My Chinese American husband doesn’t see dirt. At least, not in our house. He’s got a whole dirt manufacturing thing going on in our yard with multiple compost piles, but can he spot an errant leaf or Lego on the floor and pick it up? Haha, no. Not even after he’s experienced multiple late-night Lego fire walks into our son’s bedroom.
Back when we were dating, Andy would get mad about his roommate leaving crumbs on the kitchen counter.
Now that we’re married? Andy leaves crumbs on the kitchen counter.
He says he wipes down the counter.
I say, “Really? Because that ant right there is running off with a crumb from your sandwich and he’s going to share the joyful news with the rest of the colony and they’re all going to come running.”
Andy: “What ant?”
I squish the ant with a Clorox wipe and hold it in front of his face. “THIS ant. How can you not see this ant?!”
“Our kitchen counter is black! The ant is black!
“The counter is MARBLED black and white. Our cabinets are WHITE. How is it you never see these suckers and I have to kill them all?!”
At least twice a year, usually when it’s hot and dry, the ants send scouts into our house. If we’re lucky, I spot and kill them before they find the honey in the pantry or the cat food on the dryer. If we’re not lucky, I have to clean out the entire pantry and kill ants for days. And if we’re really unlucky? They set up an entire colony under a fallen black sweatshirt in the hall closet (true story).
I don’t know if it’s the drought or the fact that the city cut down our old trees and ground up the roots, but lately the ants have been relentless. They’re attacking on multiple fronts: kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, and bathroom. The ones in the living room found an old potato chip in Andy’s recliner. If we were wealthy, I’d’ve burned it and replaced it. As it was, I had to take the chair apart, vacuum it, and wipe it down. Repeatedly.
The kitchen ants are the worst, though. I’ve spent the last few weeks fending them off. I sweep, vacuum, and clean counters, trying to make sure there are no enticing food bits.
Undoubtedly, some readers are wondering why the hell we don’t try poison.
First, I’m not a fan of any poison in any biome. Second, we have pets that can get into every nook and cranny and cabinet in the house as well as under the house. Some of these pets think everything is edible. Others think everything is a toy.
So I remind Andy to look for ants in the morning when he gets up before I do. He says, “Sure.”
It’s Monday at 5 AM. Andy’s in the bathroom when I turn on the kitchen’s overhead lights. I see ants on the counter next to his half-full coffee mug. I kill the ants, then open drawers and cabinets to see where they are coming from. I discover a line of ants under the kitchen sink. I kill more ants, grumbling to the dog about certain blind persons in the house.
That night, I tell Andy that maybe, just maybe, light would help him see ants when it’s dark. I refrain from telling him I’m convinced he’s deliberately not turning on the lights in order to not see the ants because he doesn’t want to have to deal with ants. I remind myself that even before the recent invasion, Andy preferred to blunder about in the dark and the cold rather than pay any utility company more money.
The next morning, Andy’s up first. He leaves me a cup of coffee on the counter. By the dim nightlight on the stove hood, I see an ant crawling around next to my mug. It’s just one of many I have to kill, including some making a concerted foray into the pantry.
Andy is still in the bathroom when I leave with the dog. Fuming.
I fume all day. I kill straggler and scout ants all day. That night, I update Andy on the ant carnage tally, including the one right next to the cup of coffee he poured for me mere minutes before I entered the kitchen.
He argues, “But I looked! I didn’t see any ants!”
“I don’t know how you could have missed them, unless you weren’t really looking.”
Andy is offended. Then adamant. “I did a good job! I was looking!”
“Did you turn on the lights?!”
“I used a flashlight!”
“You—a flash—I just—” I throw up my hands and leave the room.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Or turn on a light.