The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

HOW DRY I AM: Ants are pretty industrious little critters, as I’m sure you already knew. Most people who don’t know anything else about ants, and the number of people who don’t know anything else about ants is a much larger number than you would expect, do know that ants, all species of ant, in fact, are hard driving take charge get the job done in record time little suckers, always up for a go at the toughest jobs imaginable. This attitude towards ants may be a survival from our childhoods, when our mothers read us the fairy tale about the industrious ants and the silly grasshopper, but it’s an attitude that resonates with many Americans. We often see ourselves as the industrious little ants, slaving away while others enjoy month long vacations at the beach, but we’ll get the last laugh, won’t we, when winter comes and the silly grasshoppers have no warm place to go in order to get through the bad times. Ants, by their very nature, resonate deeply with the inner Puritan in every American.

So it comes as a bit of a shock to see these usually industrious and abstemious insects, most of whom are members of the Scottish Kirk and who would never do such a thing in their own homes, come to my medicine cabinet and get totally crocked on my cool mint Listerine. This is an altogether nauseating thing to see; watching any species degrade themselves is a horrible sight, but to see these usually hard working and clean living little bugs get falling down drunk on mouthwash is especially disheartening, and something no one should have to see their medicine cabinet, or anywhere else, for that matter.

I don’t know what it is about ant society that so alienates its members to the point that an evening guzzling a few mouthfuls of mouthwash seems so very appealing, or even the lesser of two evils. I suppose you could argue that the tensions of living and working in your standard ant colony some ants over the edge and compel them to find an outlet in such dangerous behavior. Ants, for example, do not sleep, and so they do not need to go home at the end of the working day; they can keep working 24/7 without a stop. Nor can they argue that have family issues and so must go home to attend to them. An ant’s workplace is their home and the rest of the ants in that workplace are her sisters, and beyond that, in an ant colony only the queen copulates; everyone else is sterile. So your average ant has no children to worry about, no mouths of their own to worry about that might take time and energy away from the good of the colony. There’s only work, work, work, and more work, except for the queen, who is the mother of them all and who stays in the deepest part of the colony’s nest, laying eggs faster than any two championship hens you could think of. An apologist could well argue then that after a few weeks of non-stop grinding drudgery, why shouldn’t the girls get a night off to go get plastered and make lewd remarks at that hot young praying mantis male down on the next shelf while he still has his head on his shoulders, or whatever passes for shoulders for praying mantises.

I can see the result of these all night drinking binges when I go into the bathroom in the morning. Hardly a morning goes by these days that I don’t find three or four ants clinging to the Listerine bottle or lying on their backs on the floor below the medicine cabinet, too drunk to know that they’ve fallen five or so feet and are now just waiting to get stepped on. There is tragedy here as well; some of these ants manage, as drunks will when they try to go anywhere in an alcohol induced stupor, to fall into the toilet bowl and drown before they could swim to safety.

These are terrible stories, but they are all too common here in our happy little burg these days. Many people want to help, but there is very little anyone can do to stop such utterly willful self-destructiveness. The local schools have hired a psychologist and two social workers with experience in the field and have instructed the teachers to do everything in their power to try to keep this pattern of behavior from repeating itself in the next generation, but this smacks of too little, too late. This pattern of dysfunction will go on until the ants themselves decide to change their behavior, and until they do, I will go on killing the annoying little bastards. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t afford keeping every ant within the city limits supplied with drinks; frankly, I don’t want to be an enabler of such antisocial behavior. I have enough problems of my own without my making their problems worse.


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