Visitors charm and alarm us

We loved it, our new house. It was not newly built but -better than that -an old house, well-built and perfectly suited to our needs. And after being in it a few days, we realized we had a cricket in the house.

My, weren't we pleased! We shared with each other old wives' tales we remembered from childhood - about how a cricket in one's home brings good fortune. So whenever we heard the chirping - and we heard it often in the evening, only rarely in the morning - we felt blessed. Our own cricket, in our very own house!

Both of us adults, sophisticated city dwellers, college educated and all that, were utterly free from superstitions. Still, we were in love with the folklore and thrilled and delighted that a cricket had chosen to live in our house.

We unpacked our boxes, placed and replaced our furnishings, hung our pictures, cooked random harum-scarum meals, reveled in the fact that our house had a resident cricket.

After a week or so of unpacking by ourselves with no outsiders around, we talked about hunting up the cricket when we had time for outside errands and finding a cricket cage in a shop specializing in Chinese "collectibles."

In a couple of weeks, ready to unwind a bit, we had some friends in for a proper meal.

They heard the chirping, and we were delighted to regale them with our plans for the cricket.

That was when we learned it was our smoke alarm complaining that its battery was expiring and we'd better replace it right away.

I suppose they had to tell us.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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