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Close Encounters With The Worst Kind

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When this story really began we were busy lying I mean reminiscing while he was preparing the grill. He almost had the fire just right but asked me to go get some more wood from the wood pile. He either forgot to warn me or assumed I knew to be careful of fire ants in the wood pile. I had never heard much less seen ants of any kind in a wood pile. He chose that moment to tell a particularly funny story. I half looked at the logs I was picking up. I quickly brought six logs that I was cradling in my bare arms to my friend. I set the logs down near the grill just when the story got to it’s funniest when I felt what can only be described as every inch of my arms were tickling.

I looked down desperately trying to find the source of my discomfort. My skin is not pale white but it is not then or now red but when I looked down at my arms, they were very red. I looked closer and my arms were alive……I was at a loss at what was happening but suddenly when I should have been laughing the feeling in my arms turned from ticklish to being on fire. I had come in contact with “Fire Ants.” The good ol boy was absolutely right I would never forget my close encounter with the worst kind.

My friend is very much like me when it comes to telling a story. He pretty much is unconscious of what his audience is experiencing especially when they are on fire. I am told that I did not cuss ( though I desperately wanted to but with women and children who could cuss better than me I did not want to embarrass myself) instead I began to run in circles trying to get the “Fire Ants” off of my arms saying over and over again, “I really think I have a problem.” My friend’s 8 year old son said, “Hey look Dad, he’s got “Fire Ants” on his arms.” Ya think? I have never in my life felt anything like the pain I felt at that moment. This was not a time for anyone no matter how young they were, to state the obvious. At the moment my attention was focused elsewhere. I was seeing red. Shoot, I was on fire.

Looking back I am amazed when I think about how the fire ants did it. Hundreds of ants climbed off the logs that I was carrying on to my arms. They waited until as many as could fit on arms arrived before a chemical signal was given and they all stung/bit me at once. Theoretically and on paper it is an interesting concept but experiencing it is another story. I was able to get the “Fire Ants” off of my arms more quickly than I would have thought possible due to my extreme panic I suppose, thank goodness. Almost as soon as I got the “Fire Ants off of my arms huge blisters formed on to put it bluntly arms that were probably not my best feature to begin with and after the “Fire Ant Attack became my worst feature. On top of that I was still on fire. My friend’s wife had me put vinegar on it which helped for some reason and made me smell like a cucumber it eased the pain though…………some. To make things worse I felt hot and cold and sick to my stomach.

I was glad that Sunday was the next day because it gave me a day to heal. This helped but not much. I teach students who have profound mental challenges. One of the best things about my students is that they say what they think. I came to work in a short sleeve shirt since long sleeves stuck to my arms. As my students got off of the bus one of the students took one look at me and said, “Mr. Ewing, I don’t mean to be rude but your arms are ugly and I can’t look at you with your arms so ugly please cover them up. She began to cry. I quickly borrowed a long sleeve shirt from the football coach (why he had one I will never know since he always wore a t-shirt and shorts). I was to have to wear a long sleeve shirt for a month until I completely healed. I did obviously lose this battle but I have never lost another one quite like that. I regularly get bit/stung by ants of all kinds including “fire Ants” not often but sometimes. When I do it doesn’t do anything other than to strengthen my resolve to win this war, a war that can only be called “The War of the Ants in my World.”

The thing is after my encounter with the worst kind I do not hate ants especially “Fire Ants”. In fact I greatly admire them. One could say that I even respect them and approach any “Fire Ant” with caution. I am however at full and complete WAR with them. I now know of their cunning and deviousness. I know that they are ever watchful ever careful always on the lookout. I might be called paranoid but I have seen their ANTics. I have been ANTagonized by them. They may not be giANTs but they are large in their ANTicipation of every any enemy’s moves. I have seen how these ANTs are everywhere. There are lots and lots of uncles and ANTS with lots and lots of dependANTs. Their military tactics are anything but ANTiquated. Oh I have had my victories I guess and they have been sweet but there are always a few left who are quiet defiant. They will never accept defeat and become compliANT. It is time for me to stop this rANT before it becomes redundant.

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