Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ants: A Triumph of the Soul

They say Albert Schweitzer fed the ants in his house because he had a reverence for life. I say he had Stockholm Syndrome. Still, as a graduate of Schweitzer Elementary, it’s always with a vague sense of guilt that I wipe away those first few ants of the rainy season.

For some reason, every year I think those first few will be the only ones. Then the next day I think, “No big deal, I can wipe up ten every morning. At least they’re not getting to the food.”

But this year, as with every year, soon there were fifty each morning. We bought traps for outside and pet safe orange peel spray* for inside. Our house smelled orangey fresh. It was almost a good thing we had ants. It smelled like we were riding Soarin’ Over California in Disneyland. Yes. Except for the time the spray ricocheted off a doorframe and into my eye, it was exactly like going to Disneyland.

Gradually everything we owned made its way to the refrigerator. Do ants like coffee beans? I don’t know, but the beans went into the fridge just in case. We started to have avalanches every time we tried to get something to eat, but at least the ants weren’t getting to the food.

One morning I took an open bag of Reese’s Pieces out of the fridge, shoved the avalanche back in (was that a baseball glove?) and set my candy on the counter to thaw while I got ready for work. Twenty minutes later I threw the bag on the passenger seat and munched on peanut buttery goodness all the way down Stony Point Road. Then, sitting at a red light, I saw it. One single ant crawling its way out of the bag and across the seat. Slowly, I brought the bag closer and peered in.

How to describe the feeling you get when you see movement among your Reese’s Pieces. Repulsion? Horror? Anger? When I got home eight hours later, the kitchen was as bad as I feared. They were everywhere.

And that’s when I lost it. “What if I build you a little fairy house outside and put sugar cubes in it? No, the neighbors would be mad if I invited every ant in town.” Yes, I was talking to the ants. Nothing was ever going to stop them. I was a captive in my own house.

No! Not a captive! A humanitarian. I was like Albert Schweitzer. “I suppose you may as well make yourselves comfortable,” I told them. I wasn’t crazy. It was a triumph of the soul.

* Still wipe this spray up as the bottle instructs. I didn’t and I think it gave my cat seizures.

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Physical Comedy Lesson One: How to Drop Groceries

Physical Comedy 

Lesson One: How to Drop Groceries

1. Buy one 4-pound bag dog food, one 14-ounce carton Haagen-Dazs chocolate chocolate chip ice cream (get the ice cream insurance plan if offered), and one small bag chips.

2. Leave checkstand.  Hold dog food bag in crook of left arm, ice cream in right hand, and balance chips on top of the dog food and the ice cream. Don’t balance them too well. Well-balanced groceries always look like they’re dropped on purpose.

3. Exit store.

4. Wait until a man walking toward the store is about 10 feet in front of you. (This part is crucial.)

5. Lower ice cream just enough for the chips to slide off.

6. Try to catch chips by taking a few of your fingers off the ice cream, lunging forward, and attempting to snatch chip bag between fingers and ice cream carton.

7. Fail. (See #8 for details.)

8. Throw ice cream at the approaching person. Make sure carton rolls off your fingers so that it continues its roll right up to the man’s feet.

9. Try to come up with zippy one-liner. It’s funnier if you fail and say something dumb, like “right to ya.”

10. Accept ice cream from laughing man who has picked it up for you. Here’s where having another person in your incident  scene is crucial. You’ll only know you’ve perfected your slapstick if he looks like he’s trying not to laugh but can’t keep it in.

I hope you’ve learned a lot from my first installment of physical comedy lessons learned from real life. If you’d like to know what I create when I’m actually TRYING to be funny, please find my fairy tale comedy Littlefoot Part One on Kindle.

 

 

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