Friday, July 25, 2008

Got some water out of the Sparklett's jug earlier. Brought my cup up to my mouth and noticed something floating in the water: ants.

And there are ants on my desk, upstairs, right now. They're just roaming aimlessly. There's nothing here for you! Move along! And of course they do move along. Constantly. Cursory glances around the room reveal no spilled food or errant abandoned candies or sugars. I spy a dead fly on the floor, but the ants seem to be ignoring it (and why wouldn't they?) Last night I fell asleep on the couch and woke to a big orange spider crawling over my head. I had taken out the trash earlier and walked headlong into a spider web, and then probably brought the thing in to nap with me on the couch. It was pretty good-sized one, too. When I went to crush it, I heard a c-r-u-n-c-h as its tiny exoskeleton splintered beneath my hand. It was a tad disturbing, and I felt even a tad guilty for snuffing out the little life of the hapless bug, the unwitting wayfarer who hitched inside. Some dark place inside of me wishes I could feel the crunch of the bones as I snuff out the ants on my desk. I would get a gleeful satisfaction out of it, and I would do it mindlessly while reading the news. Pest removal as bubble wrap.

The concrete guy on the job site told me the other day that if you have a nest of ants living in the frame of your house, it's a good thing. Expecting some Feng shui superstition, I was surprised when he told me that the ants love to eat termite eggs. He said they'll eat every single one of them. "Yeah, but then you have ants."

"True. But your house doesn't fall down."

I suppose I should be grateful. We had inadvertently hosed a nest of ants and they were evacuating up a wall, fanning out, carrying their eggs. After a few minutes it was quite a sight -they covered the wall for yards. At one point someone pointed out "The Queen!" and you could see her engorged abdomen, surrounded by attentive drones. I leaned in to take a look, as I had never seen the Ant Queen before. There was nothing particularly unusual about her, but the small glom of ants tending her on this broad, flat, white surface meant there was no mistaking her. I stepped back a few paces and checked the wall again: there were about fifteen queens, each one covered with her adoring ant-minions. It was a disturbing sight. Disturbing in that third-act, Aliens 2, sort of way -where they discover the queen alien laying alien eggs. Sorry if I ruined it for you.

Something inside of me wanted to kill each one of the ant queens on the wall, but that seemed antisocial at the time, so I resisted the urge. But I thought, perhaps I could flush them out of my own house and find the queen that way... But then it occurred to me that there's been enough flushing out my house lately.

When I lived at Dantean Point we had ant problems, too. It was a bachelor pad, so the ant problems were much more impressive and even profound. At one point, Carey, unable to defeat the ants, decided he would embrace them. The New York Times Book Review had recently covered a book titled simply, The Ants, which was a massive, full color, tome that claimed to be the most exhaustive, definitive work on the, well, ants. We didn't buy it, (the thing cost $100) but we did sit in the Barnes and Noble with a latte one night and move through it a page at a time. Did we learn anything about the ants? Not sure. The book ended up winning the Pulitzer Prize, though.

I shouldn't complain. My sister lives in Hawaii and the ants there are tiny, swift moving yellow little things that number in the billions -and they're nothing compared to the helicopter-sized roaches. I believe my sister keeps all the food Ziplocked in the refrigerator or some nearby bank vault. But when I think about how I'm going to be living in this house on the mainland with the ants for the next thirty years, I just get kind of depressed. I may resort to tossing raw candy into the neighbor's yard to draw them away, or, worse, I may just make them all pets.

As if I needed ten million more pets around here.


NO JOKE: 11:45AM. The pest control guy rang my doorbell and offered a summer discount on their monthly ant removal service. His sales pitch reached an overpowering crescendo when he thumbed out an ant crawling up my door frame. I signed up. I didn't care what it cost.