When we moved to New Jersey 17 years ago, I had a lot of expectations about what I would find in the suburbs. I was prepared for the large number of minivans, the malls and the women in mom jeans.
What I was not expecting was these huge, prehistoric-looking monster insects known as cicadas.
Having come from New York City, I was used to some large insects. But these bugs were so big and so ugly, I was sure the Men in Black would show up in my yard and tell me the bugs were actually aliens from the planet Zorg. Then they would vaporize the bugs, flash me with that memory wiper gadget, and I'd forget the whole thing.
Truthfully, 17 years later, I only have vague recollections of this entomological nightmare. Much like pregnancy and childbirth, I think I blocked most of it out.
So this spring, when the news agencies started to prepare us for the re-emergence of the 17-year cicadas, I had trouble remembering just how bad they had been. Until they arrived. Then there were so many that I kept waiting for the boils, the frogs and the Angel of Darkness to appear.
Experts estimate that this time around there are something like thirty billion cicadas .... as many as 1.5 million per acre. They're loud, they're annoying, and all they're interested in doing is having sex. It's kind of like the bug version of the show "The Jersey Shore."
Much as I can appreciate the scientific wonder of this phenomenon, I'd rather it happen in some other part of the world. Between the noise level and the abundance of vacated cicada exoskeletons all over my yard, I can barely stand to be outside. Unfortunately, I have a dog whose bathroom is the great outdoors, so I'm forced to venture out into Jurassic Park several times a day.
Clearly I'm not thrilled about this. But oddly, our dog Monty is a fan.
Not of the mating noises or the miracle of the 17-year cicada metamorphosis, though. No, he just simply likes the taste. And for a dog with a taste for bugs, our backyard was a total all-you-can-eat cafe.
As I took him outside so he could do his business, Monty immediately discovered the bug buffet and began to chow down.
"Ew. Monty. No! No eating the bugs," I yelled at him.
Sadly this was not one of the commands the dog learned in puppy kindergarten. He ignored me and continued his bug binge.
Horror-struck, I went inside and called my husband.
"The dog is eating cicadas," I told him. "It's so gross. How can he do that?"
Page 2 of 2 - "Well you know what they say about cicadas," he told me.
"Tastes like chicken."
*Note: Tracy's new book, "Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs," makes a great beach read. Get it on Amazon and everywhere books are sold!