August 8, 2000


I think the ants were starting to *bug* Jaymi over the weekend.

Jaymi overlooking Crab Cove

She went to change her clothes the other night, right after we'd gotten home from the zoo (and a quick side-trip to Ocean Beach, to look at dead jellyfish), and when she flipped open the lid of her suitcase, it was crawling with ants.

Bazillions of them.

Even Karaoke Guy across the courtyard paused in mid-Hall & Oates when he heard her scream.

David and I immediately jumped into the Subaru and drove to Safeway, where we loaded up on ant traps and ant poison and ant spray and teeny-tiny ant handcuffs. By the time we got back to the apartment, she had completely emptied and vacuumed her suitcase, pulled all of the cushions off the sofa and vacuumed them top and bottom, and was now laundering every article of clothing she'd brought along on the trip, whether they were dirty or not.

"Ants creep me out," she said. No kidding.

While I cooked dinner, David went into the bathroom and commenced the mass execution. I couldn't bear to watch. He set the little ant poison dispensers on the floor behind the wastebasket and the toilet, and then he thoroughly sprayed around the tub and in the toilet paper dispenser and under the sink and around the cracks of the windowsill and all of the other places we know they like to hang out and do all of their little ant stuff.

It took a couple of days, but this morning when I went into the bathroom, there were no ants crawling along the side of the tub.

There were no ants in the sink, or in the medicine cabinet, or climbing up and down the new shower curtain, or smiling up at me from my toothbrush holder. ["Yo! Secra! How's it goin'?"]

There were no ants. Period.

I wasn't sure if I felt relieved ... or bereft. A little bit of both, maybe.

The truth is that I've run hot and cold where the ants are concerned. In the early days I always tried to *save* them. Whenever I encountered the occasional solitary ant, scurrying around in the bathtub or in the sink, I took great pains to scoop him up with a wad of toilet paper and gently deposit him out the window before I turned on the water. The first time I walked into the bathroom, though, and encountered ten hundred thousand of them swarming on top of a discarded tampon wrapper ... it was all over. I turned into an ant-killing machine. For the next couple of months I never went into the bathroom without a bottle of Windex in my hand.

But over time I eventually made peace with the ants. What was I gonna do? Tweak out every time I needed to use the bathroom? Nope. I adapted. I never brushed my teeth in the dark. I took special care not to leave half-eaten chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies sitting on the side of the tub. And I learned to shake and inspect the toilet paper before I wiped. Eventually all of this stuff just became habit.

So now that the ants are gone ... the bathroom seems strangely empty. "I sorta miss them," I confessed this morning. Plus I'm stuck with all of these stoopid, useless new habits.

Jaymi probably thinks I'm nuts.

But then again, I'm sure there are a lot of things about life here in The Castle that baffle her. How can we exist on a day-to-day basis without a microwave, for instance? Or a toaster? Or basic cable? Or a silverware drawer divider, forcryingoutloud?

Why are all of our canned food labels written in Japanese?

How can David and I remain so unfailingly upbeat and optimistic all the time? Why are we so sickeningly nice to each other? Why isn't he dumping pitchers of raspberry iced tea over my head? Why aren't I throwing plates of spaghetti at him?

How can we live in this dark, chaotic, claustrophobic, book-strewn, vinyl-intensive, ant-infested four-hundred square foot TELEPHONE BOOTH of an apartment -- with pink kitchen appliances, forcryingoutloud -- without going stark-raving bullgoose loony?

(More importantly: why haven't we had Karaoke Guy assassinated yet?)

I'm sure a lot of this is downright mystifying to the daughter who once witnessed me throw a lit pumpkin at her father, just because he'd painted the dining room wall the wrong color blue.

At least we've put a temporary halt to The Great Ant Infestation, though. She can sleep easy and untroubled tonight. She can sleep on the FLOOR if she wants to. (Hell ... she can fall asleep on an entire BED of cookie crumbs and tampon wrappers, if she wants to, and not a single solitary ant will so much as cross her big toe while she sleeps.)

But just to be on the safe side? Maybe we'd better not tell her about the nest of angry bad clowns living under the kitchen sink.

thirteen years ago

throw a rock