One of N’s biggest and most persistent fears is of insects. This is yet another area in which he has come a long way. Used to, he would go into full panic mode with the passing of a fly. I usually know if he has come upon an insect inside (whether dead or alive), because of his dramatic reaction and genuine, raw fear. We have brought many a spring al fresco dinner indoors, due to the mere sound of carpenter bees at work. He just won’t hear any reasoning about any of the bug population. I tell you this so you will appreciate his bravery in this tale.
We have had a wee problem with ants in the kitchen lately. First, there were the medium black ones who weren’t too fast. Then there were the “crazy busy” bigger black ones, which were harder to get rid of. They all love the sink area. Each time we get one group under control, another replaces it. The last I discovered were a tiny, pale brown species – in my saltine crackers. Now, hang with me while I segue once more. (And yes, I am sure they were ants.)
Last night I made lemon pie filling. Uh huh, just the filling. I had no desire to make a crust, plus I had little tart shells. They used up only a portion of the good tangy stuff, so today N. and I were looking forward to some pie filling. I needed something to “crust” it with, and after pondering, decided graham crackers would be perfect. We two were so happy with our luscious creation: graham crackers topped with plenty of lemon pie filling, plus Reddi Whip on top! Yes! Mine was about 1/3 eaten when my eye caught some movement in my yummy dessert. What was that? Oh, no! Couldn’t be. Not the pale brown ant. I am good at putting my head in the sand, and I ate another bite, willing it to be gone. Then I saw several. On my plate. Now I wanted to slam my chair to the ground and run outside, spitting and carrying on.
At this very second, I had a flashback of something most impressive that Meryl Streep once did. Supposedly, while she was filming “Out of Africa”, they were doing a long outdoor scene, and, in real life, she knew there was a big, horrible insect inside her blouse, crawling around. She carried out the scene perfectly, but the second the director yelled, “Cut!”, she jumped up and ripped off her top. (I love Meryl Streep. Always have. How on earth did she possess such self control?) So, back to my drama, how harmful are ingested ants? I don’t know. But if I acted at all perturbed by their presence, N would go beserk-o on me (and even if I didn’t, he would). Play like Meryl. So, go on eating? Take his away with a smile? No. He loves dessert more than he hates insects. Play like Meryl. “Oh. I am not sure, but I think I saw something in my pie that doesn’t belong there,” I said, in comatose fashion. Unalarmed, N. asked what it was. “Not sure, but I think it could be a TINY ant,” I heard my voice answer, with a yawn. Surprise of the decade comes next. “You know what they say—ants are protein,” was his response. Wha---? “I don’t see any in mine,” he said next. It is good to know he has some of my attributes, especially the head-in-the-sand one. Next came reality. “OH MY GOSH, I think I feel their little legs scratching down my throat!”, he said as he rose to medium panic. “OH NO, OH NO!!” and then he rushed to the sink where he began rinsing and gargling like crazy. Much, much better reaction than I could have ever hoped for. My self- restraint paid off (thank you, Meryl, for your example), and perhaps he was calmer because I was calm. In fact, I think I deserve an award for that. Meanwhile, I just wish I did not feel their little legs scratching in my throat as well.