Messing Up Ant Pheromones

Lying on the floor reading several days ago, I noticed a tiny ant traipsing along, proudly waving some kind of delectable twice its size overhead like a banner. Then I saw another...and another...and...good grief, they were everywhere, scurrying to and fro, carrying unidentifiable forms of ant food. Apparently they've established an outpost in my living room, and the carpet in my workspace is heavily trafficked. They're so small and the carpet camouflages them so well that I never realized how many there really are.

So today I got down to business. I began by vacuuming the carpet thoroughly with my Hoover vacuum cleaner, which is powerful enough to ingest anything within three feet of it that isn't bolted to the floor--but no, not good enough. In short order the ants were back, parading their foodstuff in triumph.

This could not be allowed to continue. After researching about ant control online, I misted the carpet with white vinegar, which messes up the ants' pheromone trails so they don't know which way they're headed and they lose all sense of meaning and purpose in life. Many grow depressed. It's a weird thing to hear scores of despondent ants weeping, the sound of their lamentations drifting up faintly from the floor.

The carpet now smelled like a giant foot, but that was a small price to pay for messing with an ant colony's pheromones. Now for my next step. I headed to the store and purchased ant spray, borax, and a bag of diatomaceous earth, a powder so fine that it sifts inside an ant's exoskeleton, slices it up, and desiccates the ant. Picture hundreds upon hundreds of wee little mummified ants. Or don't. It's up to you.

Back home, I took the can of ant spray and sprayed all around the baseboard and door frame inside, and outside along the patio. Then, following the directions on the bag of diatomaceous earth, I sprinkled handfuls of the stuff all over the carpet in the ant-infested area. Heh, heh! I thought. This ought to sort the little buggers. I just, according to the directions, needed to work the powder into the carpet with a broom.

Did you know that diatomaceous earth is so incredibly, almost molecularly, fine that it acts like mud even when it's dry? It doesn't "work into the carpet"; what it does is sort of smear all over the place in big white blotches and streaks that do not, no matter how hard and long you sweep, go gently into that good nap. Nope. Once those blotches are there, by golly, there they are. Only time and repeated vacuuming will make them go bye-bye.

Ah, well. The ants are in for a time of it, anyway. Now to complete the job by mixing up a paste of borax and corn syrup. Supposedly ants love the stuff, and they'll cart it back to their nest, where it will slowly poison the whole colony.

Ant spray, diatomaceous earth, and borax--three-pronged hell descends on the ants in my living room. This better work, that's all I can say. Gadz, the carpet looks like a disaster.

Three Is a Funny Number: A Tip for Writing Humor

Three is the number of completeness. In Christian theology, God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In music, three notes--the root, third, and fifth--make up a complete chord, known as a triad. And in writing, groupings of three create a sense of wholeness. One sentence is a statement. Two sentences are an expansion. But three are a unity. In his book Writing Tools: Fifty Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark says, "In our language and culture, three provides a sense of the whole." He gives examples: Beginning, middle, and end. Moe, Larry, and Curly. A priest, a minister, and a rabbi. Executive, legislative, and judicial. Three just feels right. And triadic statements are a great device for writing humor. A friend of mine, Bob VanStee, recently posted an eloquent comment about lightning bugs on Facebook. It was a lovely bit of prose that captured the beauty of fireflies floating like tiny Japanese lanterns over the fields. He didn't put it that way, but what he wrote was every bit as rich in imagery: firefly fields ... sparkling like sequins on a lady's gown ... rising like the bubbles in a glass of champagne. Very sweetly stated. Bob is clearly a romantic, and a number of people liked what he wrote. I was one of them, and I said so. Then, upon further reflection, I posted a second comment: "The female Photurus firefly will mimic the flash pattern of another species. Then when the male of that species arrives to mate, she eats him. I'm surprised that Dave Barry didn't have something to say about this in his Complete Guide to Guys." In the context of the overall thread, the jolting shift from sublimity to cannibalism works as humor. Well, it strikes me as funny, anyway. Instinctively, I used a triadic approach which consisted of the following:
  1. a factual opener,
  2. a shocking middle, and
  3. a wry editorial conclusion.
With variations, I think I use this formula often in writing humorous pieces. You might want to give it a try too.