Susan's Blog

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What’s Bugging Me

I noticed that there is yet another movie about ants: the Ant Bully. That makes three: Antz, Bugs Life, and now this. What is with moviemakers, to think there is so much interest in ants? This, from someone who never had an ant farm and in fact, has always been grossed out by ants. They are not up there with spiders, for which I even have my own measuring system of scariness. Ned will say, “How big?” And I will give him the body-to-leg comparison. If the body is fat and bigger than a pinky tip, then it doesn’t matter how big or small the legs are: a fat-bodied spider wins on Susan’s Scary Scale. Ned will also ask, “Hair?” And I will shake my head, or better yet, nod, with chilling satisfaction. (As a girl, I had memorized the page in the S Encyclopedia where a full-color photo of a tarantula spread out over two pages in Playboy centerfold glory.)

I must digress a little and talk about our first apartment, 508 South 41st in West Philadelphia, which we call “The Roach Motel.” So many German cockroaches (I’m not being racist, that is what they are called, and they are extremely quick and hard to get rid of), and I, an otherwise happy newlywed, was miserable. We even changed the room we slept in because we saw bugs in our bedroom! All of my wedding gifts, full of roaches. Spaghetti box, infested. On my plane trip back from my honeymoon in Italy, I was thinking one thing (no, not that, you filthy minds): what about those bugs?

We ended up fleeing (like roaches when the light goes on) only days later to a blissfully clean, beautiful apartment on 44th and Pine. It had a little stained glass window and a tiny kitchen, sans insects. And that landlord from the Roach Motel took us to small claims court for breaking our lease! We won, however. Ha, ha! He even had a lawyer! Total loser.

Ants are not screamingly-gross-can’t-even-kill-it-call-Dad/Ned, but I admit to a horror/fascination with ants when they are doing a food pile-on and it looks like an undulating brown rug until you look closer and realize: it’s tons of bugs on a cracker crumb! Then I just want to stomp, stomp, stomp. (Or how about those dusty beige mounds that burst from your lawn, like a Liliputian mini golf course? I love messing them up with my feet. I imagine the little buggers saying, “What the F***?” in their antennae language, bleeps and buzzes or something, and then they have to go and spend another lifetime digging a new back door in my crappy lawn.) But I don’t, because of Max. He actually gets a little sad when I kill a bug. What a darling. He doesn’t say anything, he just gets this little sad expression on his face while Ben howls with satisfaction: “Did you get it?” For some reason, I have no problem smacking bees, even sometimes with my bare hands. I do not fear stings; I’ve had them before and believe me, my sister’s or Nat’s pinches were worse. But harmless things like ants or spiders — well, I don’t or can’t kill them under Max’s scrutiny.

It’s funny to me to think that I actually got rid of “sugar ants” (makes them sound so benign, doesn’t it, sweetening them like that?) just by washing the table every time after Benji ate there. Nat is a messy eater, too, but the ants were not on his part of the table; just Benji’s. Tiny little black ones, but they still bothered him. It reminded me of when I was little and I was pouring out the Apple Jacks, and a little dead ant fell out into my bowl. I was so sickened I couldn’t eat Apple Jacks for like a year. Laura and I called out together, “Ma! There’s ants in the cereal!” To which she undoubtedly replied, “Oh, sh**!” Mom HATED bugs in the cabinet; but who doesn’t. Yet, somehow, Mom’s hatred of them bordered on religious fundamentalism. (Dad would then pretend to scoop up a bug and eat it.) Ned tells me that once, he and his mom were baking and out of the egg beater popped a roach, which then plummeted to its lumpy death right into the batter. And my friend John tells me that his mom once made biscuits with ant-infested Bisquik, not realizing the added protein in the mix. [My friend John just wrote to tell me the following: “No, it was my grandmother who made the chicken and
dumplings with the ants in the Bisquik, and my mother
who wanted us to pretend they weren’t there!”]
[And Ned wanted me to add that it was meringue, not batter, and that they did not eat it!]

It really bugs me, having to live side-by-side with insects.


Be grateful for the bugs. Here in Singapore, to prevent the spread of mosquito borne illnesses, they spray huge, dense plumes of pesticides over all urban areas every week. There is not a single bug around. (Except for the cockroaches, they live forever). Since there are no bugs, there are no birds. I am scared to even think about the pesticide load on my body.

— added by Doris on Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 9:11 am

Well there was them

Which scared the hell out of me and taught me about the LA storm drain system at the same time.

Then there was the Naked Jungle

Which was even more scary cos them ants were not even radioactive monsters, but real ants, like the ones in your back garden (or so it seemed at the time)

— added by The author on Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 10:07 am

What Doris said puts it all into perspective. I would much rather have the bugs than breathe in chemicals and totally ruin the water supplies and holy crap that is just horrid to think about. I get that feeling this time of year as well, though. The bugs take over and there is nothing you can do except clean your butt off and chase after kids and their crumbs. On a side note, I started a blog here and need to figure out how to bypass our security to access it. Lame.

— added by mrs. gilb on Friday, July 28, 2006 at 12:41 am

I hate bugs too. But I think of it this way, fruit flies or show shoveling? Flies or ice on the wings? Ants (in my bathroom???) or running the furnace.

God I love summer, even with the %$#@ bugs!

— added by Mom on Friday, July 28, 2006 at 7:45 am

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