Cicada Files Archives: May 21, 2004

Up Close and Too Personal

Friday, May 21, 2004 @ 10:20 PM

I braved the elements earlier this evening to go out to dinner with one of my girlfriends and her daughter.  When they came to pick me up, my neighbor was outside cutting his lawn.  BIG mistake.  As I opened the door, he smiled and waved enthusiastically.  “Hi!  Look, we’ve got cicadas!”  I looked down on the ground to see an entourage of cicadas eagerly following the lawn mower as my neighbor mowed back and forth like he was the Pied Piper or something.  My neighbor’s wife and little daughter were outside eagerly watching the cicadas zip back and forth following the hum of the lawn mower.  As the cicadas realized that it wasn’t a male cicada trying to put the moves on them, one by one, they flew off…and headed straight towards me!  As I ran to hop in my girlfriend’s car, my neighbors were chuckling.  “Oh, they’re harmless.   You should see our backyards!  There are hundreds of them back there!”  That’s when I told my girlfriend Yvonne to pull off.  I had heard enough.

Yvonne was cruising towards Route 40 past all kinds of trees with her windows down.  That’s a blatant invitation for a cicada to fly in and take over your car.

I was dreading the return trip home, so before we left the restaurant, I grabbed my keys, armed and ready to march straight to my front door.  Yvonne looked at me and asked me what I was doing with my keys out.  Apparently, she must’ve thought that I had forgotten that she drove.  I didn’t forget, I was just trying to be on the ready.

Finally, when we arrived at my house, I was very apprehensive about walking up to the front door.  I didn’t know if the cicadas were camped out in my yard, or chillin’ on the door frame.  I stood there for a good 30 seconds, not sure of what to do.  Should I run, open the front door and hope that there’s nothing close enough to fly into the house?  Should I walk slowly and cautiously, so as not to disturb the cicadas?   Or should I ask Yvonne to drop me off at BWI so that I could catch the first flight out of town?  Yvonne, concerned, sent her daughter Kyra to open the door for me.  I asked Kyra if she saw any cicadas on my front door; she told me that she didn’t, and then she waited for me to open the door.  She’s such a sweetie pie.

Later on, my sister Shani called to tell me that she read my weblog and thought it was hilarious.  She was laughing uncontrollably, which to me, indicated that she was laughing at me, and not at my journal writings.  I asked Shani how many cicadas had she seen thus far; she said she’s seen one cicada shell.  Okay, now she’s disqualified.  I’ve seen cicadas hanging from trees, flying around, landing on my shoulder, waving at people, chilling on lamp posts, directing traffic in parking lots, doing the cha-cha slide on the sidewalk, you name it.  I’ve seen a few dozen cicadas to her one…and she has the nerve to laugh at me.

And anyway, why is Shani perpetrating now like she isn’t afraid of bugs?  This is the girl who used to scream when she found a cricket in the laundry basket.  She’s trying to laugh at me?  That’s a shame and a half.

Wait until a cicada lands on her shoulder.  I bet she won’t be laughing then.

Scratch Dot Com (Part 2)

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story…”

I was supposed to meet BroLightEyes at Tyson’s Corner one evening after work for an early dinner and a movie. We had chatted on the phone a few times, and I immediately was drawn to him because of his smooth, baritone voice. In his online photo, BroLightEyes had captivatingly hazel eyes and a great smile. I could not wait to meet him. On that fateful day, I drove to Tyson’s Corner, parked the car strategically facing the incoming traffic and primped in the mirror while I waited. I was dressed to impress, well-coiffed hair, lip gloss gleaming. BroLightEyes wouldn’t be able to resist me.

I sensed disaster when I spotted a beat-up white car sputtering around the corner. My heart sank. It was BroLightEyes. How did I know? Those hazel eyes were blazing. He was studying me as if I was his prey. BroLightEyes parked his car and got out, and as he approached, he chucked a hocking wad of spit across the parking lot. Everything I thought was attractive about him dissipated. He had on a brown leather bomber jacket, and a dull brown shirt-and-tie ensemble. It was 90 degrees outside! He adjusted his hanging work badge around his neck just so that I was able to see that BroLightEyes was Mel Jones, Jr., a Network Security contractor with Lockheed Martin. I supposed he expected that would turn me on. As I watched him shuffle towards my car, my hopes for the date evaporated in the warm, late spring air.

Mel seemed much older and wearier than he appeared in his pictures online, about a decade or two older than what he had put in his profile. He walked like “old Arthur” was getting the best of him, yet he was trying to strut like he was some hip cat from the 70s. Totally deflated yet compelled to go through with the date, I trudged along as Mel wandered through department stores looking for furniture for his new apartment.

It’s been a long time coming,” Mel warbled along with Sam Cooke whose voice floated from the store speakers. I could tell by Mel’s stupid grin and his winking eye, it was going to be a long time going.

During our aimless walk through Tyson’s Corner, Mel made several attempts to grab my hand. My mother taught me never to hold hands with strangers. And so I didn’t.

While I was silently suffering, Mel was happy to have a companion he could drone on to about the ex-wife, the son she won’t let him see, the roommate with the vomit-spewing cat, the arthritic knee and persistent back pain, eye problems, knee problems, the on-again-off-again love affair with cigarettes, and a whole lot of other stuff I wasn’t listening to.

“I can’t believe it,” Mel said. “In a couple of weeks, I can’t wait to move into my very own apartment.”

Then he pumped his fist in the air with an awkwardness and utter lack of coordination that made me want to hide myself in the clearance bin.

“Finally!” He cheered.

What the eff?

Mel, who looked like he was old enough to have had a couple of his “very own apartments” already, didn’t have his own place? Never had his own place?

Mel grinned sheepishly and tried to tell me in his deep Mr. Smooth voice that he never had his own apartment. He sounded like Mr. Magoo.

“How old are you?” I blurted out, not caring what he thought of me asking such a question right behind his overdue declaration of independence.

“Well,” Mel sighed. “There’s something I need to tell you…”

I already figured it out, Mel, I thought. The good angel on my left shoulder was trying to tell me that Mel was just a year or two older than his profile stated. But the bad angel, who had become my best friend over the past hour, bet the good angel that Mel was much older than that. My money was with the bad angel.

The bad one was right.

Mel’s profile claimed he was 36. The joker admitted to being 49. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being 49. It’s a great age. But not for Mel. He actually could pass for much older.

As he talked and gestured, the big, dangling gold earring from his left ear bothered me. No man with the amount of gray hair that Mel had should be allowed to wear an earring that big or a leather bomber jacket in 80-degree weather.

“So did you want to grab some dinner?” Mel asked, gesturing towards The Cheesecake Factory. That was the first question he asked me the entire time we were together.

The Cheesecake Factory would have been a wonderful place to go for dinner with a date, but just not this date. Besides, it was Wednesday, Results Night on “American Idol.” Simon needed me. America needed me. And that became my perfect excuse to escape.

On the drive back to Baltimore, I reflected on my streak of bad luck with men I’ve met online and restaurants. There was a pattern here, a dangerous one.

Now MrBrandMan2U had a slightly skewed view of the world. He considered Horn & Horn and Red Lobster to be “upscale restaurants.” When he went out to for dinner, he brought his own special blend of Old Bay Seasoning and crushed Cayenne Peppers to restaurants and would send a little container in the back for the cook to season his crab legs with. He was so well-known throughout the restaurants in the area for being a BYOS (Bring Your Own Seasoning) patron, that they usually accommodated him.

I realized for sure that this cat wasn’t the one when he took me to a breakfast restaurant: Happy Family Restaurant. The name was a misnomer. Nothing was happy about that dump. It was a bland, blah-looking eatery, its style harkened back to the days of Howard Johnson and your local diner trapped in the 70s. Our server’s name was Velma, typical server name, I’d guess. She was a plump, surly-looking woman stuffed in an old-school pink waitress uniform complete with the frilly lace ruffles. She snarled at us as a form of welcoming us, and took our orders.

MrBrandMan2U was giddy. “This is going to be so much fun,” he chirped.

He asked for his milk to come out with his breakfast platter. Velma replied, “Oh you’re one of those types, huh?” Then she rolled her eyes and sauntered up to the counter. Stunned, I asked him if he thought she was being rude. Apparently, he didn’t.

“It’s part of the gimmick,” he said bouncing in his seat like a 4-year-old.

When our food came out, she slammed our plates on the table.

“Excuse me, you forgot our syrup,” MrBrandMan2U giggled like a third-grader.

“Go up to the counter and get it your damn self,” Velma barked, and walked off in a huff.

He was laughing hysterically. “That’s what they do here! They’re rude. On purpose!” MrBrandMan2U popped out of his seat, amused and very animated. “If you ask for anything extra, they make you go get it!”


Then Velma came stomping back to collect the tip from the people at the next table who seemed to enjoy being insulted as much as my date did.

“You forgot my milk,” he was on the edge of his seat waiting to be insulted.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in my life.

Velma put one hand on the table and the other on her hip, and assumed the I-Am-Black-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar stance.

She leaned in, and in a low voice filled with attitude, “Just like you took your happy ass up to the counter to get your damn syrup, you can carry your happy ass back up there to get your damn ‘I want it with my meal’ milk. It’s that simple.”

I lost my appetite.

MrBrandMan2U bounced and ate as the sound of rude waitresses insulting patrons ricocheted off the walls. He later said that was the best date he ever had at the Happy Family Restaurant. And not because of me. But because Velma cursed him out.

And he left her a tip!

The next morning, I logged into, clicked on “cancel profile”, and the computer screen frowned. “Are you sure you want to leave” I clicked the “yes” button. “We will miss you,” the next screen chirped. “Are you sure?” I clicked “yes” again. “We can make your profile inactive in case you want to take some time off from the dating scene,” the screen chimed. “Are you sure you want to leave permanently?” Underneath the question was some syrupy blurb about being patient, remaining hopeful, and giving another chance. Once again, asked if I wanted to leave. I didn’t see a “Hell yes” button on the screen, so I just clicked “yes.”

And with that, Mocha1Mocha and her legion of online suitors – MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, SuaveRev007 and MrBrandMan2U – vanished. I was looking for Mr. Right, not Mr. Will-Do, Mr. Liquid-Crack-Seller-Slash-What-Does-He-Do-Anyway? or Mr. I-Am-Just-Getting-My-Own-Apartment-At-Age-One-Hundred-and-Six. It was obvious to me that Mr. Right wasn’t online. On a site like, he didn’t stand a chance again

Scratch Dot Com (Part 1)

DISCLAIMER: All names have been changed to protect the identities of persons mentioned. No animals have been harmed in the writing of this piece. Furthermore, this essay does not reflect the views or opinions of anyone other than me. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else. Ever. I mean it.

Every time I see the eHarmony commercial featuring Neil Clark Warren and those sappily-ever-after eHarmonized couples, I have flashbacks to my own dramatic experiences with online dating.

I made the foray into online dating  about three years ago after a string of unsuccessful relationships. I lamented about my dreary state of singleness to anyone who would listen. I had painted such a sad picture for myself. I would be single forever while the rest of the world would bask in a lifetime of marital bliss. It just isn’t fair, I whined to Stephanie, one of my happily coupled-up girlfriends one rainy Saturday. After having endured several of my dramatic, well-rehearsed soliloquies, she stopped me.

“Have you thought about online dating?”

Dumb question, I thought.

I met Warren, Satan’s first cousin, on a site I like to call His profile stated that he was a hard-working brother with an executive job in sales, and a beautiful townhome in Northern Virginia. It also said that Warren enjoyed traveling, sports and hunting. In reality, Warren was a lazy copier salesman hanging onto his cushy job by a thread. And the stately townhome in a swanky Northern Virginia neighborhood was about to go into foreclosure because his ex-fiancée had had enough of his wandering eye (a hobby he forgot to mention). When I met him, I saw a tall, chocolate brother who looked more attractive in person than he did in his online photo. After a few short months of dating, Warren, the polished, smooth-talking, attentive gentleman who obsessed over fine suits, ties and crisp creases in his dress slacks, turned into a sadistic Class-A jerk that had a woman for every day of the week.

Warren’s horrible behavior and inconsistent lies had me sprawled out on my friend’s couch crying over my broken heart. So for Stephanie to suggest I venture back into cyberspace on another quest for love was ludicrous.

Stephanie, a self-professed online dating expert, offered to tweak my online profile to help me get more hits from potential suitors. After all, she had just met a great guy herself on the internet, and she was still racking up winks, nods and online kisses. Stephanie’s edits ended up being edited by my friend Marissa, a dating expert in her own right. Wild and brazen, Marissa wasted no time in marking up my profile with drastic and racy changes.

“You look like a goddamned saint in this picture,” Marissa pointed out over drinks one evening. “Loosen up, let your weave down. Get some big hoop earrings, and for God’s sake do something with your makeup.” Marissa frowned. “You need to turn up your oomph factor, ‘cause right now you need to be a 100 and you’re really at negative 500. You need to look like a good girl who’s just a little bit slutty.”

My new and improved profile ended up being a hybrid of Stephanie’s distinguished edits and Marissa’s tawdry suggestions. The first day the new and improved Mocha1Mocha appeared online, she got over 100 hits. I was delighted.

I hastily scribbled down the user names of the cute gentlemen I wanted to respond to: MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, MrBrandMan2U, SuaveRev007. Eager to erase the memories of Warren from my mind, I started firing off responses to my admirers.

MillionaireBy40 was the first to respond. His real name was Ray. He lived in Baltimore. He was 41, and not a millionaire. Ray was an entrepreneur with big dreams and lots of dumb ideas. His goal was to get rich selling “liquid nutritional products” through his internet-marketing website. He claimed he also had a side business as an independent contractor, for some lucrative business on the verge of big profits. Doing what, you ask? Hell if I ever found out. The only real clue I had was that Ray said his workday normally started around two in the afternoon. By then, half the day was gone. Ray wondered why his business was so slow. I guessed he assumed that the average person didn’t start working until late in the afternoon, and that banks, merchants, vendors and hospitals opened at two in the afternoon. Just as frightening images of me being the wife of a liquid-nutritional-product-hocking-slash-independent-contractor-of-nothing flashed before my eyes, Ray said he had just read the book The Secret. After reading the book, he wrote himself a $10,000 check and taped it to his bathroom mirror.

“Interesting,” I deadpanned.

“I just know that I am going to cash that check one day soon.”

I wondered why he just didn’t write himself a check for a million dollars. After all, he was MillionaireBy40, and according to his age, he was slightly behind schedule.

Ray insisted that the positive energy of wealth was flowing through him. But apparently, it wasn’t flowing strong enough to keep his gas, electricity or telephone on. It seems that MillionaireBy40 was in the middle of billing disputes with the utility companies at the time. I only found this out when I asked about this Jesse Anderson person whose name appeared on my caller-ID screen whenever Ray called. When he attempted to offer an explanation, he stammered “see, what had happened was…” the first five words in a chronic liar’s vernacular. It turns out that Jesse Anderson was Ray’s good friend who had good credit. I saw no future with the liquid nutritional product marketing executive slash part-time independent contractor of nothing who couldn’t get a line of credit with BGE or Verizon, and crossed him off the list.

SuaveRev007 called me one rainy evening to ask me out on a date. During the conversation, he seemed like a great guy, decent conversationalist, well mannered. I was kind of touched when he offered to pray before ending our phone call.

The first date — at a outdoor concert on the Sunday before Labor Day – was rather uneventful save for a trip to his office in Warrentown where he wanted me to check out the lobby and the restrooms. I think he was more concerned about me being impressed that he had a key to his office building. Wow.

Then another Sunday (all of our dates were on Sundays, it seemed) I accompanied him to a guest-preaching gig at a friend’s church. Before he began his sermon (which was about a dry as the Mojave Desert), he took a moment to acknowledge me – his girlfriend – Michelle for coming out to support him. I wanted to raise my hand and tell him, “Excuse me, but my name is Kim.” But I didn’t.

And there was another Sunday…the Sunday I’d like to call Salad Bowl Sunday. We visited a big, vibrant church, and the singing was so good, I felt compelled to put a little extra in the offering plate when it came around. “God loves a cheerful giver”, that’s what the Bible says.

God loves babies and fools, too.

SuaveRev nudged me and asked, “Can I borrow five dollars for my offering? Things are tight for me this week.”

Alrighty then!

After church, we headed up the road to Ruby Tuesday’s for something to eat. We both ordered plates of those cute little Ruby mini-burgers and unlimited salad from the salad bar. SuaveRev let me know halfway through the meal that he was broke and wouldn’t be able to pay for the meal, yet he continued to eat heartily assuming I would take care of the bill (I did.) When the server placed the check on the table at the end of the meal, SuaveRev slid the check, face down, towards me and asked for two carryout boxes. Between the two of us, we had just three teeny, tiny burgers and five French fries left. Why would he need two carryout containers? Was he planning on feeding the multitudes like Jesus did with the three fish and five loaves of bread? Actually, he took one of the containers up to the salad bar and loaded up as if there was no tomorrow. I should point out here that I go by the general rule of thumb when it comes to all-you-can eat restaurants: all-you-can-eat generally means “all you can eat while you’re at the restaurant.” And if I were to put that in a way for the SuaveRev, man of the cloth to understand: “Thou shalt not loadeth up on stuff from the all-you-can-eateth salad bar that thou art planning to carteth home.”

To be continued…(Trust me, there’s more.)