You know who you never hear about anymore? Jiminy Cricket.
Not that I should be surprised. Pretty much every Disney character that exists has more exposure than Jiminy — I really haven’t seen the green moral compass since the 1988 film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
Also, I’ve usually met somebody sharing a name with other characters. I’ve known a few Mickeys, one Minnie, played Frisbee with a Donald, saw a girl with “Daisy” on her name tag and even worked with a Roger. But I’ve never met anybody named Jiminy; can’t imagine I ever will.
But I digress. I thought of Jiminy when a cricket settled in the ceiling of our office. I like to think that he greeted us nightly, yelling, “Hey guys, how was another day of journalism? You guys rock.” But he never bothered to learn English, so we just heard, “Chirp,” for five hours.
• Dianna Hernandez made it personal. And that’s how Toby the Cricket came to be.
“I did not take anybody’s opinion,” Dianna told me, completely unaware I was quoting her. “I just said, ‘His name is Toby.’”
• Jenna Zamie, a page designer with the closest desk to the chirping, was less pleasant.
“I hate that thing,” Jenna told me, knowing full well I was writing everything down. “If I would have been able to get up there and crush that thing, I would have done it.”
• The first night I heard Toby, I was neither happy nor sad — just confused. I had always known crickets as outdoor creatures. Thus, my mind kept trying to tell my body that it was slightly breezy, and my body responded that there’s no wind in a climate-controlled office.
Confusion and all, I decided he shouldn’t go to waste. So I pretended I was a standup comic who was bombing. “Cleaner? I hardly even know her.”
But his presence also made me think back to old Jiminy, and how I should let my conscience be my guide. I can just imagine Toby the Cricket telling me:
• “Kevin, if she’s disinterested in basketball, it’s a fool’s pursuit to turn on the charm. What if she becomes your girlfriend and she wants to go for a picnic during the NBA All-Star Game?”
n “Just because the person you barely know invites you out, that doesn’t mean you have to go.”
• “Kevin, wait until the 49ers win before you start goading Cowboys and Jets fans about losses.”
And maybe Toby the Cricket could have told Kanye West not to interrupt Taylor Swift. Or told senators they weren’t elected to create useless gridlock. Or fill in your own.
The office fell silent Monday, to Jenna’s joy and Dianna’s chagrin. This day was to be expected, since a cricket’s lifespan is only a few weeks. I can only hope I keep Toby the Cricket alive in my heart and mind, and be a better person.
And if not? Hey, at least the office is quiet again … unless Toby left behind a family and some cricket eggs. I’d better tell Dianna to get some names ready.