One of the first things I did when I moved from Yankee territory was to go poking at one of those big ant mounds that are found throughout the south. I got stung about fifty times while the boys I was with at the time fell all over themselves at my stupidity. An ant that stings was completely unimaginable where I was raised. Ants were good for squashing, that was about it. They could crawl on you and you wouldn’t blink an eye.
In the south, fire ants are everywhere. I have come to believe they are the minions of Satan himself. I can’t stand more than five minutes on any piece of grass in South Carolina without dancing around like a fool because fire ants are covering my sandals and chewing on my ankles. It looks like I tried to kick a field goal with a cactus.
My pain and suffering is of course a never ending source of entertainment for the boys. Which is why when they get stung by a fire ant or two I secretly say to myself “About time”. The boys have of course grown up with fire ants. Like any group of bored kids I have seen them invent all kinds of games that have made me shake my head and wonder where they come up with some of the stuff they do.
One day we were playing soccer and during a water break I noticed a group of boys huddled in group at one end of the field. My House Parent senses told me that something was up, so I walked down to them and asked what they we were doing. They were all laughing and taking turns putting their hands into a fire ant mound and seeing how long they could keep it there. The record was ten seconds at that point, and probably one of the stupidest things I have witnessed as a human being.
I have also seen the boys on occasion kick ant mounds on each other and run around laughing while getting stung on the arms and face. If the south ever did rise again, this is the kinda mentality the North would have to face. I know some tough Northerners, but not one of them would take a fire ant mound to the face and run around laughing. They grow em tough down here.
One of my favorite pastimes is the eradication of fire ants. I hate them like I hate cancer. The kids and my wife just stand back and say a prayer every time I head out the door with a gas can and matches. I forget they probably crawled out of hell anyway and the fire probably just makes it a little more cozy for them, while my lawn looks like it barely survived a Napalm bombing run.
Trying to kill them isn’t helping my ulcer any. I’m starting to think that maybe I should adapt the kids outlook on the dreaded fire ants and learn to adapt, using them as a natural resource, a way of separating the men from the boys by plunging my hand into an ant mound. Amazing what a group of boys can teach you…. -Launch