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insects

I always tried not to be the dirty kid or the creepy kid or the stupid kid. It was a good way of growing up. I retained an ample amount of friends, was never disliked by the teacher, and towards my teen years and high school, got to date good-looking girls. However, it was a sheltered life.

There was this one kid in kindergarten that when I think of now, I envied. His name was Nick and he was the kid that your parents warned you not to be like. He was the class clown and I became close enough friends with him that I got to hang out with him and watch him do crazy things. It was during recess after lunch and everyone was playing in the little ward. We were playing ninjas or something of that sort but Nick and I were distracted by this huge cockroach that began climbing up my feet. Nick grabbed it, and with a smile on his face he looked at me and said, “You dare me?” and bit the roach in half. He eventually spit it out and was overcome with how disgusting of an action he'd just committed. Yet, I still think back on that memory whenever I see bugs and wonder if I could have ever done it.

Fast forward 17 years later, I am on Pac-Rim and chilling with some of the girls from the group in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. We decided to eat out for dinner and I recommended this place that I'd been to a few days before named 'Highway 4' which was recommended in the Lonely Planet. What I didn't tell them was that Highway 4 serves crickets and I was going to make sure that I did not miss the opportunity. Long story short, we get there, ordered drinks and food. I got the crickets with everyone's approval.

The dish smelled so great! The crickets were fried with lemon grass and chillies. I immediately grabbed my chopsticks and picked up the plumpest looking cricket in the plate. I examined it for a bit and with a mischievous glance toward the girls I popped it in my mouth. It cracked and popped as I chewed and eventually became something resembling crispy. The flavor was a taste of crispy meat and lemon. I swallowed it down, feeling the thin piece of leg fall down post-gulp. It really wasn't that bad. Actually, I have to say that it was my favorite dish of the evening.

Now as I write this, I remember thinking of the memory that had happened all those years back in kindergarten during my Gryllidae experience. I might have never had the inclination to do such a thing had it not been for then. And with that, here's to you, Nick.

Fayez