February 21, 2001
Making Mountains Out of Anthills


"We have company," I grimly announced, when David walked through the door last night. And I handed him the vacuum cleaner nozzle.

The startled look on his face said Wait a minute! I've already cleaned this apartment from top to bottom!  In honor of my mother's upcoming visit, he spent most of last weekend with a scrub brush in one hand and a can of Comet cleanser in the other hand. The place has never looked better. But this had nothing to do with my mother, or with her visit to the Bay Area (which we are thoroughly enjoying, in spite of the rain) ... or with the fact that I have the world's most incredibly thoughtful, most incredibly industrious life partner. This was 'company' of a different species entirely.

I wordlessly waved the nozzle towards the ceiling.  And there they were.


Millions of ants. Bazillions of ants. Millions of bazillions of tiny, inky-black ants ... an endless surging river of them, flowing in a straight line across the top of every wall in the apartment ... marching fluidly from one corner of the living room, through the dining room area above the computer, straight across to the kitchen to wind around the ugly pink appliances, and looping back again to the living room.

I've never seen anything like it.

We've had ant infestations before, of course. Ants come and go around this place like boy-band posters in a junior high gym locker. But this was no mere infestation. I hear the word 'infestation,' and I imagine opening up the cupboard and finding an ant family homesteading in the sugar bowl.

This, my friends, was an ant onslaught. This was a CAVALCADE of ants.

This was ANT WAR.

David gently took the vacuum cleaner nozzle from my hand and immediately proceeded with the extermination. As always, I was unable to watch (or listen) as the executions took place: I squeezed my eyes shut, plugged my ears with my fingers and noisily hummed a few bars of 'Bohemian Like You.' It didn't completely drown out the sound of violent insect death going on all around me -- once or twice my eyes popped open, and I inadvertently caught a glimpse of David shoving the nozzle into the space between the sofa and the wall -- but mostly I tried to distance myself from the carnage as much as possible.

(I may not like them ... I may not want them in my apartment ... but neither do I want to watch them sucked down a long plastic nozzle into the yawning maw of a 3510W Power Partner. It's the same way I feel about Regis Philbin.)

After he'd finished vacuuming up the ants -- it took more than an hour -- David and I went all around The Castle, trying to locate their entrance/exit points. Eventually we were able to pinpoint two: a crack in the living room windowsill, right next to Grandma's ashes, and another, bigger crack at the base of the door frame. He sprayed both areas with several metric gallons' worth of Raid ... ran a final spot-check around the walls and the furniture ... and finally pronounced us ant-free.

And we remained ant-free, too. For about eight hours.

This morning when I got up to turn on the coffee ... they were back. Only this time there were about ten times MORE of them, and they all seemed bigger and sturdier and angrier at 6 a.m., somehow, than the ants from the night before ... almost as though the ants we murdered last night managed to get *word* out to their friends and relatives and co-workers, through some sort of Insect Psychic Hotline from beyond the grave (or in this case, from beyond the vacuum cleaner) ... and now their friends and relatives and co-workers had been dispatched to exact revenge, except that this second group of ants were from the shallower end of the gene pool, if you know what I mean: the big, stoopid second-cousins, the Billy Bobs and Bobby Earls of the ant colony, mean just for the sake of being mean ... and they were all hopped up on Raid Ant & Roach Killer, and they were gathering strength, and they were really really pissed off, man.

Even though it wasn't even light outside yet, David went around and vacuumed them up again. (I'm sure our neighbors were plenty hating us, right about then. But then again, when your neighbors are people like Car Alarm Guy and Tone-Deaf Karaoke Girl, who cares?)  It took longer this time. This was a tougher bunch of ants. They didn't go willingly. This time I didn't bother closing my eyes or plugging my ears: I wanted to make sure that they were gone. When he was finished vacuuming, David emptied the can of Raid all over the window-hole and the door-hole, and all around the doorframe and the windowsills and the edges of the furniture, and he said "That's about as good as it gets for now."

I cast a dubious eye at the ceiling. Yes, it was clear for now. But god only knows what horrors await us when we get home from dinner tonight.

All I know is that if I hear the sound of teeny-tiny chainsaws, coming from the other side of the door ... I'm not going in.

one year ago: seventy-two hours from hell
[wow! i'm going through the EXACT SAME THING RIGHT NOW,

before i have to kill somebody ...
help bring back Fast Lane Tea!
[tell 'em SECRA sent you]

throw a rock