I’m not sure if you guys are aware of this, but my husband, Nar, and I often have Sunday brunch at the McCain’s. They are a lovely family, and Cindy makes an ambrosia salad that could make you tinkle with joy. Usually Cindy and I ready the table, talking about “girl stuff” like clothes and makeup and back pain prevention that won’t make you call a press conference.
It should come as no surprise that my friend, John, is a little stressed of late. With the Iraq War, a probable Presidential bid, the Iraq War and the IRAQ WAR, who wouldn’t stress?? But our last visit was a little different, and I thought I would share my experience with you.
The McCain’s have a lovely house in Arizona, and as we pulled up, we noticed John running around the side of the house, in full camoflauge, with a team of insect exterminators.
As we entered, I noticed holes in the wood paneling. Every once in a while, a small winged bug would fly by: the McCain’s have termites.
Cindy greeted us in her usual laid-back manner, her silver hair and steel blue eyes glistening in the late morning light.
Cindy: Hi! Come on in!
We exchanged pleasantries, but we could hear John shouting instructions from the back yard.
Boo: What’s going on?
Clutching her mimosa, Cindy answered under her breath.
Cindy: Bugs, honey. We have -
Suddenly, John stormed in through the back door, screeching.
John: Fire ants!
I detected a small role of the eye from Cindy, then she pursed her lips so tightly a Zip Lock bag would be jealous of the seal.
John: Fire fucking ants, Boo! They invaded our neighbor’s yard 2 nights ago. And our neighbor, though I respect him as my neighbor, clearly has a failed policy toward the fire ants. It’s a failed strategy.
At this, Nar put a friendly hand on John’s soldier and lead him into the kitchen. Cindy and I followed, and I noticed a small brigade of termites clustering near the cabinets. John went to the back window, looking out over his backyard battlefield.
John: The consequences of failure to erradicate an imposing fire ant invasion would be grave. I can’t guarantee success, but now I have the right strategy at least.
As John spoke, I watched as the exterminators sprayed the fence, the cacti, Cindy’s stone collection. Some of their equipment didn’t even seem like it was working, and one gentleman just sat back and smoked a blunt as the rest of his team sluggishly continued.
Cindy offered me coffee, and I noticed that as she passed me the cream, a termite was struggling frantically to escape her hairsprayed hair. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like bugs, and the visual of seeing this winged insect fight for its life in Cindy’s coiff made me vomit in my mouth a little. That aside, I couldn’t help but ask:
Boo: John, do you actually have a fire ant problem?
John: We do … somewhat have a fire ant problem. Our neighbors, well, one of the most frustrating things that’s ever happened in my neighborly life is watching this train wreck of a plan to deal with such an imposing problem.
Here he bangs his fist down on the counter, killing a termite with his bare hands. Nar, at this point, could only rub his head rigorously.
Nar: May I suggest, John -
Nar: May I suggest that you have, what should I call it … a termite problem in your house, and you’re spraying for fire ants that are not in your backyard? It seems a little -
John: This strategy can succeed, Nar. If you oppose this strategy, why don’t you offer your own?
Nar: Bring the exterminators inside to spray for the termites … just sayin’.
John: Withdrawal is retreat is defeat, young man. If we leave the backyard now, the fire ants will follow us into the house!
Boo: You won’t have a house if you keep letting the termites eat it.
John: You are basically casting a vote of no confidence for the men out there fighting for our freedom to have a bar-b-que in the backyard without the threat of fire ants.
John began choking a little here because as he shouted the word “ant” a termite flew into his mouth. Nar patted his back, but I’m pretty sure John just swallowed the damn bug just to be stubborn.
Boo: John! You have a termite problem right now, dude! What the hell??
John was so angry at our questioning of his competence to deal with the situation that he stormed out onto the back porch. He continued to yell at us from outside.
John: Shit people! We need a unity of command! A unity of effort to -
At this, the entire porch, made of what was once a beautiful cedar, completely collapsed. We rushed out to help our friend, who laid on the ground flailing wildly.
Nar extended his hands to John, propping him up.
John: YOU SEE! THE TERMITES ARE HELPING THE FIRE ANTS! JESUS CHRIST … CAN’T YOU PEOPLE SEE??
Cindy ran to her husband’s side as any loving wife would.
Cindy: We see, John. We see.
John: It’s a path to success … I can succeed … I can …
Cindy: Yes, dear. I know, but now it’s quiet time, dear.
Nar and I looked on in wonder. We had completely lost our appetites.