Insects in outer space, on our kitchen counter
My wife bought the kids an ant farm. Actually, I guess they don’t call it an ant farm anymore for political correctness reasons—ants can live in hip, urban environments, too, you racist—so it’s actually called Ant Universe. The tagline of Ant Universe is “A Space Age Habitat For Ants!”
Indeed the space theme is well represented via a small, vertical block of hard plastic, which is filled with a solid blue gel. A mere glance at this magnificent structure will take your mind on a journey into the beautiful, infinite abyss of outer space. Also, I think the ants are supposed to wear tiny space helmets or something.
Speaking of the ants, they were only thing missing. Like the various marketed toys of my youth, the main attraction of Ant Universe was not included in Ant Universe. On discovering this, I couldn’t help but hear that fast-talking Micro-Machines guy voice say “antssoldseparately.” As such, my wife had ordered the ants from the ant factory (“$5plusshippingandhandling”), and we waited anxiously for their arrival.
And waited, and waited. Each day my wife pleaded with me to retrieve the mail, as she was very concerned the “poor ants would die in the mailbox.” Unsure what a package of ants looked like, I carefully opened each piece of mail daily, even junk mail from car dealerships, fearing a colony of ants would emerge seeking revenge.
Three weeks after placing the order, the ants finally arrived in a small tube. A label on the tube read, “CAUTION: Ants sting. Parental supervision required.” My wife allowed our older daughter to hold the tube of ants while she attended to our younger daughter, who had somehow managed to fall in the toilet. Our oldest was under strict instructions to hold the tube carefully and not shake it. I parentally supervised this, and it was literally 20 seconds before she started shaking the tube and I removed it from her grasp.
My wife carefully opened the ant tube, placing it at the entrance of the ants’ new space home. Apparently, the ants did not want to live there—possibly because they had just been violently shaken and had lost their capacity for reason—and several of them escaped, running rampant on our kitchen table.
Chaos ensued. The girls shrieked while my wife frantically removed the dog so he did not eat the ants. I furiously moved around, accomplishing nothing, feebly trying to corral the ants with a paper towel while yelling, “CAUTION, ANTS STING! CAUTION, ANTS STING!”
One by one, my wife calmly corralled the ants under the lid of her take-home Starbucks iced coffee container, which is just how they did it in the olden days on the ant farm when the ants became unruly. (It should be noted that if this had happened while my wife wasn’t there, I would have panicked and killed all the ants.)
The ants were all safely inside their space habitat. Now what? My wife and I checked the Ant Universe manual for helpful instructions, such as:
Check to see that an ant is dead before removing it from the Ant Universe.
OK. (I asked my wife if we would be forced to host several ant funerals in the near future, and she told me to be quiet because she was watching the ants.)
Ants in your Ant Universe dispose of bodily waste matter just like any other ant.
Out of their ant butts? Do ants have butts? I know nothing about ants.
Evidence will be in the form of small, brown spots/streaks (usually in the corners).
Duly noted. One thing I definitely needed in my life was to care for another living thing incapable of cleaning its own feces.
Anyway, this is going to be the best spaced-themed ant habitat ever! I’ll let you know how things progress. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an ant funeral to host. (opens Bible)
“Family and friends, we all loved ‘George Clooney’ …"
Note: This column appears in the 4/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/4 issue of the Peoria Times.