October 8, 2002
Little Harbingers

miles to go: 454.25

5:57 a.m.

I am seated -- as I am always seated at 5:57 a.m., rain or shine, weekdays and weekends alike, relentless creature of habit that I am -- in front of the computer. The world is still dark, both inside and out: in the next room, my husband still has another hour of snooze-time ahead of him. In one hand I'm holding my trusty Vidal Sassoon Turbo-Dry 2000S; in the other hand, a lukewarm mug of Italian Dark Roast.

While I drink-and-dry, I scan the overnight crop of e-mail.

A couple of "Hi I like your journal" notes from new readers. A bit of *Survivor chat* from my pal Phil.  An e-mail from Bev, detailing the highlights and lowlights of JournalCon. The usual stoopid advertisements for bust enhancers and 'marital aids' and penis enlargers. (Boy, have YOU got the wrong household.)

As I'm reading, I am vaguely aware of something tickling my bare leg. A stray hair, probably, blasted loose from my scalp by the mighty Turbo-Dry 2000S ... or maybe another one of those pesky little brown spiders I keep picking out of the sink. I brush my leg with my fingertips, unperturbed, and continue reading my e-mail. (The Grillaz are talking about squirrels in their pants again: I may have to step in here and divert the conversation to something more civilized if this keeps up.)

The tickling sensation persists ... only now it's more of an itch than a tickle.

Annoyed, I glance down at my leg. In the half-light/half-darkness, my left calf appears to be covered with fine, downy black hair. Jesus H. Christ on a Lady Gillette! How long has it BEEN since I shaved my legs, anyway?? However, upon closer inspection I can see that these things are too dark and too random to be leg hairs. Plus there are way too many of them.

Plus ... they're moving.

It's a good thing I'm not superstitious.

I remember our last big Ant Infestation as clearly as if it happened just yesterday, even though it's been more than a year. I can tell you everything about that morning: how I was running late because the coffeemaker overflowed, and I had to stop and clean up the mess before I could take my shower ... how I stood in the bedroom doorway for a couple of minutes, once the coffee crisis was resolved, and watched David sleeping, wondering if I had time to crawl into bed next to him and whisper a few *naughty nothings* into his ear (but how I decided against it eventually: the overflowing coffeemaker had already fudked me, timewise) ... how I went into the bathroom, reluctantly, and shucked off my nightgown and flipped the light switch and was horrified to discover 43,897,621 tiny black ants crawling around the grimy porcelain interior of the bathtub.

I can even tell you the exact date and time that the infestation began: Tuesday morning, 5:57 a.m. ...

... September 11, 2001.

If I were superstitious -- if I believed in things like Dreaded Bad Luck Songs and black helium balloons and unlucky pennies -- I might read something into the sudden unannounced return of the ants this morning, especially since we haven't seen hide nor mandible of the little suckers since that black day. (Essentially they hung around for 24 hours that day -- just long enough to add to our misery -- and then they disappeared into the woodwork, virtually overnight. We haven't seen them since.)  If I were a superstitious person, I might see them crawling up my leg this morning, and be reminded of that sad horrible morning, and assume this is a sign that Something Terrible Is About To Happen. I might have to start wishing on turkey bones and vapor trails again, in an effort to ward off impending disaster. I might have to wear my pajama top inside-out, or hold my breath when we drive through The Webster Tube, or dig out the Herman's Hermits album and play "I'm Into Something Good" a few thousand times. 

I might have to start saying "Rabbit Rabbit" every morning.

So I guess it's probably a good thing that I don't have a superstitious bone in my body: otherwise I might be freaking out, right about now.

I flip on the desk light above the computer.

There are at least fifty follicle-sized ants crawling up the side of my leg, and another 43,897,621 of them puddled on the floor below my computer chair, inches from my bare foot. They appear to be mostly congregating around some formerly-foodlike substance -- a hunk of leftover garlic bread from last night's dinner, from the looks of it -- and unless I'm mistaken they're actually getting BIGGER, right in front of my eyes.

Hiya, Secra! they shout, when they see me looking at them. Long time no see!

Ordinarily I would probably be standing on top of the computer chair right about now, screaming for David to come and rescue me. Or frantically dialing the apartment manager. Or typing "exterminators Alameda CA help help help" into a web browser. But I'm not doing any of those things. The fact is that I'm not much in the mood for nonsense -- or superstition -- this morning. I didn't sleep well. I haven't had nearly enough caffeine yet.

I've already had a phenomenally shitty week, and today is only Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the ants are circling my computer chair. We are The New Harbingers of Doom! they chant together in ominous chorus. We are your Twenty-First Century 'Marrakesh Express'! We are the upended salt shaker on your picnic table ... the tails-up penny laying on your sidewalk ... the single black helium balloon, floating above your head! Look upon us and be afraid! Be very very ...

"Oh shut up," I snap at them irritably.

And I point the Turbo-Dry 2000S under my chair ... and blow the little fudkers away.

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© secraterri 1998-2002
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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

i don't believe in the easter bunny anymore, either.
[easter bunny: "yes, but *i* still believe in YOU, secra."]