Mi Casa Su Casa

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

There are ants in my bathroom.
I first saw them there three days ago. There were only four or five very tiny little ones moving stealthily up the side of my glass shower door at first. Then I espied one on the floor next to the grey mat that I planned to step out of the shower onto. What was he doing there? Or she?
I reached my index finger down and mashed gently onto the cool white ceramic tile. Do you believe that when I turned my finger over to inspect the poor dead creature, there was nothing there? Nothing. I scoured the floor, checking between the octagonal tiles thinking that the teeny little ant had somehow slipped away and hidden in the dark grout. I glanced back over to the shower door, but there were no longer any brother or sister ants making their slow, slow journey up to the top of the chrome frame. They had disappeared. “Fast little buggers,” I thought to myself.
I began feeling some remorse at having smushed the tiniest of the ant family with my finger, even if I never could find his body. Could it be possible that there was some magic alternate universe where ants moved back and forth with ease? Escaping big flat feet, soapy sponges, and even index fingers of giants who appear, often at just the moment a bright light flashes from out of nowhere, seems to be something they are quite good at.
I set about imagining Ant School where physical education is far more important than English Lit; where hordes of ant boys and girls spend large parts of their day practicing evacuation techniques, are involved in countless hours of track and field exercises. They may now and again be allowed some time for a quiet game of dominoes, but football and soccer are required; courses; hand-eye coordination being critical to the task of lobbing bits of breadcrumbs and carrying them successfully over their heads as well as moving bits and pieces of foodstuffs with their teeny little cleat-shod feet in defensive patterns.
Back to my bathroom. Or yours for that matter. What in the world would a team of tiny, tiny ants, no bigger than grains of sand be doing in a place where no food is served; at least not at my house. If they were thirsty, there were much closer water holes to access than the dripping shower head which was about thirty thousand ant-miles from their anthill home.
Next day, more ants. Lots more. It is obvious to you, dear reader, that I am somewhat obsessed with these uninvited visitors. Granted, they did not cause a disturbance, other than that made by me stomping around in my slippers trying to dispatch them–with little success I might add. “Sneaky little buggers,” I muttered. I discovered that a wet cloth was the best method of trapping them, but then there was the issue of what to do after I had embedded them in the nap of my washcloth?
Now, I am not a Buddhist and so do not subscribe to the notion that we should not kill creatures like ants, or even snakes, but I did feel uneasy, kinda like God was watching me, asking, “Just what has My little ant done to offend you?” Since I had no good answer, I walked to the front door (yes, in my PJs), opened it and stepped outside. As you may remember March has been anything but sunny and warm, so, I shivered, teeth chattering and tried to shake the ants off the cloth, while waving to my neighbor. “No, No. I’m alright,” I answered to her shouted question if there was something on fire. I shook and shook, while the little sand-colored specks dug their little cleated feet in and hung on for dear life! I would have to give up and put the wet cloth into the laundry hamper where it would probably cause my better underwear to mildew before I remembered to rinse them out.
I turned from the linen closet and there on the sink where I brush my teeth and in the area where I normally apply my makeup was, I assumed, a gathering of a large girlie slumber party. I gave up trying to flush them down the drain; they just swam madly in a circle and were hanging around the silver rim when I turned the faucet off. There was a smaller group hiding among the bristles of my purple toothbrush.
Actually, they don’t taste much different than the cinnamon-flavored Sensidyne toothpaste I have begun using, and I find it quite a lot of fun watching the girls applying mascara after curling their very fine eye-lashes, and puckering up their cute little ant lips to put on Passion Pink lip gloss before scurrying out of sight into the Wonderland that is that alternate universe where they can adjourn in the blink of my eye.
If you are even still reading and are perhaps thinking I have lost my mind, the answer is “Not at all.” I have simply decided to start enjoying these little creatures who appear out of nowhere and disappear like smoke into “who knows where.” I step around them, not on them, and share my toiletries gladly. I mean, how much can they possibly use.

** Sixteen years ago March 28th, our family was blessed by the most beautiful little Princess in the realm. Funny, talented, and smart; you make my heart sing! Happy 16th Birthday, Erin. (Don’t ever forget your mascara.)

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