Ants In My Pants (A respost in memory of Renee Khan)

1.

Outside my home, life is passing by. There are students on bikes with heavy backpacks filled with books. There are buses filled with pedestrians and cars filed with five-day-work-week commuters. Trucks, vans, government vehicles are all making their way through the intersection of life, that sits just outside my door. Inside my home, there are ants. Billions of ants that cannot be defeated no matter how hard I try. There are ants in the cupboard board, ants in the stove, ants in the bathtub, ants in the couch, ants in the bed and ants in my pants.


I have always been adamantly averse to killing any living thing. I preached to others the virtues of sparing a life- even if it was only a moth, mosquito, fly or spider. I have often heard myself compared to the Jains, who are members of an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world. Whether you want to call it your karma or your luck I believed that if you took another living creatures life it would eventually reflect back upon your life in a negative way. Besides, I felt better when I let a fly, spider, mosquito or moth go free. I had the power to take its life but instead I made a more noble choice to let it be. Somehow this made me feel like I would be rewarded by the Gods who would appreciate me for all the lives that I had saved. Instead, what I have received for my virtuous acts is a home infested with little black ants.


I have been killing ants with the fervor of a Nazi. I have become convinced that all ants must die because they are polluting the sanctity of my home.  Not only is it unhygienic to live in a home with billions of black ants but it is also one of the most frustrating annoyances to constantly find then running across your arms and legs, through your hair and sometimes into your eyes and mouth. I find ants in my food and between my toes. They have made their way into my books, into my pillows and onto my toothbrushes- they are polluting my entire life, so I had no choice but to induce a full-blown fight.


I spend hours a day waging war against these annoying creatures. The ones that I can see with my naked eye are only a half of the entire gang that is infesting my home. They lodge in the ceiling and underneath the house- but it is my hope that by killing all the ants that I can see I will send a loud message to the other ants that are below ground and in the roof of my house that I am not fucking around.  I have spent over a hundred dollars on non-toxic ant spray, which I use excessively. I spray it like a hose, all through out the day, wherever I see ants congregating together. I whack them with brooms, flood them out with water, wipe them up with wet rags and have even thrown burning paper on a few. I like to watch them suffer, and when I am done with what can only be compared to waging genocide- I like to walk around and look at the piles and piles of dead ants. I know that this is a war that cannot be won- but at least I can do my part to get some sweet revenge.


2.

This morning I had a job interview. I put on one of my favorite suits and made sure that I looked just right. I shaved, put gel in my hair (something I never do) and I must say that when I looked in the mirror I did not look like a man that was living with billions of ants. I looked affluent, in an educated kind of way. I looked like I had a bank account filled with money and expensive food in my tummy. Instead I was going to a low level interview as a copy editor for a company that I had never heard of. I probably did not need to get as dressed up as I was, but since my bank account is empty- I was desperate to make a good impression. I met with a group of corporate looking people who call themselves “the board.” They put me in a single chair in front of their elongated table, behind which they all sat staring at me. They asked me a series of ridiculous questions like “why do I feel like I am the best candidate for the job?” and “what about my editing abilities makes me an effective copy editor?” I certainly did not reveal to them that I am dyslexic and have a terrible time spelling correctly but I did talk at length about my love for reading and my years of experience working as a writer and a high school English teacher.


Everything was going well until what felt like small, brief pinching sensations in my crouch began making me feel very uncomfortable. I had been noticing all morning that I was itching myself more than normal but I just assumed that was because of the starched suit I was wearing. I crossed and uncrossed my legs trying to nullify the slight pain that was starting to make its way down my legs. While I tried to maintain my composure and talk about why I thought I was the best candidate for the job- the pinching sensation intensified. It felt like I was being bitten in the strangest way. The sensation proceeded to very slowly move all the way down to the bottom of my legs and when I looked down at my shoes I could not believe what I saw, ants! My heart raced, I twitched, scratched and began to sweat. I cannot imagine what “the board” must of thought of me- but I tried to appear as confident as I could. I am hoping that they assumed that it was nervousness that caused me to twist and turn in such strange ways.


When the interview had ended, I shook all their hands and walked as quickly as I could to the bathroom, where I proceeded to take off my pants, shirt, socks, tie and shoes. I stripped down into my underwear in a bathroom stall and with tissues I wiped off the dozens of ants that were on my pants, legs, and socks and inside my shoes. I cursed the little creatures to hell before I squashed them and I even shed a few tears out of frustration rather than sorrow. “Why me?” I muttered to myself, but abstained from saying it out loud. When the bathroom was vacant I went out to use the sink and ran soapy water all over my legs, feet and chest. After what felt like hours of sanitation– I got dressed and returned home. In my car I still felt itchy all over my legs, which I prayed not to be more ants. I looked down on the floor of my car and found dozens of ants there to.


It was at this point that I decided I had lost. I threw my hands up in the air and declared “surrender” out loud. The war could not be won. The more ants that I killed the more that they multiplied. Karma had fucked me and there was nothing that could be done. I had to drive home resigned to the fact that there were ants crawling all over my legs and there was nothing I could do about it. The sensation drove me mad but all I could do was drive and breathe. For months I have been trying to avoid calling an extermination company into my home but I have decided that it is the only thing that can be done to bring my wife and I some relief. When I arrived home I took off my suit and stripped down into the nude. I noticed dozens of ants crawling around on my legs and between my toes, on the bedroom floor and when I got into the shower there were more. Under the hot water I washed away whatever sins and ants were left upon my burning body. I rinsed myself down with patchouli soap and watched the ants helplessly get funneled down the drain. The phone rang and I did not care. I heard the message on my answering machine, which was turned up much to loud. “Hello, this is Wendy from the board whom you just interviewed with. Someone found socks and a tie in our bathroom and I am almost certain that they belong to you. If these are indeed yours could you please contact me as soon as possible, I will hold them for you just in case. Thank you.”

 

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