This weekend, my sister and her husband were holding a cookout to celebrate several happy occasions. My sister turned 30 this spring, while her husband turned 35. They were also celebrating their third wedding anniversary.
I'd promised, as part of our gift, that The Gryphon and I would help prepare. We drove up to Bellefonte on Friday so we could spend as much time as possible helping.
This meant I had to take off work on Friday, and The Gryphon worked a half day at the contract job where he is doing some coding right now. I picked him up, and we headed for my sister's place.
As we neared our destination, The Gryphon and I were getting very silly, as we were both hungry. He suggested making a movie called Ferrets on a Panel Truck. As you might imagine, ferrets get loose on a panel truck, causing havoc. In the first half of the movie, they eat Carrot Top. In the second half of the movie, Gary Coleman comes in as the hero ferret wrangler and saves the day.
When I expressed some doubt as to whether a studio would want to finance such a project, The Gryphon said, "What, you want to do some kind of French film?" So, taking that as a cue, I suggested a film called Ferrets on a Panel Truck starring Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve as former young lovers who used to see each other every summer when their families would vacation at the seaside in Nice. They grow apart, and find separate lives. Many years later, they both return to revisit old memories.
She's got a teenage daughter who has ferrets as pets, and he is a divorced delivery man who drives a panel truck. They encounter each other and fall in love again. The title, I explained, is symbolic of the reuniting of their lives and also how crazy and unpredictable love can be.
The Gryphon didn't like this version and said it lacked action, so we worked out a compromise. In this version, Gary Coleman moves in next door and steals Depardieu's panel truck, screaming "Yahoo!" and flooring it over the hill in a scene reminiscent of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The ferrets have stowed away on the truck and save the day by jumping on his head and distracting him until he has a fender bender.
We also came up with an idea for a breakfast cereal made specifically for Godzilla. It would feature marshmallow shapes of people, buildings and cars. The slogan would be "It's atomically delicious."
As we arrived in Bellefonte, we became aware of a loud, buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from my car, so I put the CD on pause. Then I realized it was coming from outside: the sounds of thousands of cicadas. I'd never heard anything like it. When I got an opportunity, I recorded some of it. This was recorded with my digital voice recorder, standing under a tree loaded with cicadas (who were occasionally dropping on me!).
As we pulled up, my sister was waiting for us out front, since she'd just called to find out where we were. She greeted us with a hug, then helped us carry our stuff inside. I noted with amusement that both she and I were wearing red tops. Along with her husband, we went to a restaurant just outside Bellefonte. It's a casual eatery, with beer, sandwiches, pizzas, and some Italian entrees.
At dinner, we told my sister and her husband about our movie ideas. She preferred The Gryphon's original idea, primarily because of Carrot Top being eaten by ferrets.
For dinner, I had a large portabella salad with pistachios and apple slices, along with a local draft beer, served with a slice of lemon. It hit the spot. Plus, I figured, it was a sensible meal, considering I was planning on splurging Saturday.
Afterwards, we dropped The Gryphon at home so he could begin preparing the taquitos he was making for the party. The rest of us drove to a nearby grocery store to pick up necessary items, such as paper plates, cups, hot dogs, hamburgers, and condiments.
Upon returning, my sister and I took our dogs, Una and Emma, for a walk. That's when I began to realize just how prevalent the cicadas were. Not only was there a constant buzzing sound which, as The Gryphon described it, was like something out of a science-fiction movie, but cicadas were literally dropping from the sky right in front of us. Dead, and mostly dead, cicadas covered the sidewalks and streets. It was truly biblical.
My sister told me that her Little Sister wouldn't be attending the barbecue, because she was afraid of the cicadas. Of course, my sister hadn't known this until she tried to take her to a children's fair in Bellefonte the week the outbreak started. The poor little 10-year-old girl was screaming and crying until they managed to get back inside.
When we got back, we opened one of the containers of cask wine that The Gryphon and I had brought. We enjoyed a glass or two while my sister and her husband engaged in some preparations for the next day. The Gryphon cooked up the filling for two types of taquitos: chicken and vegetarian.
I wasn't much help, because I was having some indigestion problems. I took it easy on the couch and promised I'd be more help the next day. The cicadas hummed us into the night.
Ten-year-old girls are far less interested in cicadas than I am.