When I was a child, I spent Saturday afternoons watching scary movies with my father in our basement. Back then, there was no Netflix, DVR, or even a Blockbuster Video. Just Chiller Theater. This television show opened with a cartoon hand coming out of a grave, and eating the “Chiller” letters one by one. It probably wasn’t the best programming for a five-year-old, and each week my mother screamed down the stairs at my father to shut it off.
“Bill, put Bugs Bunny back on or she’s going to have nightmares!” she hollered while we watched Godzilla vs Mothra, The Blob, and Planet of the Apes. And like most things my mother yelled about, she was right: I did have nightmares. But I loved every minute of those times with my dad.
This brings me to the 1958 movie, Them. Based on the improbable, but no less entertaining, hypothesis that nuclear testing could create a colony of giant-sized mutant ants, the movie delivers a rollercoaster ride of suspense that could send any five year old to therapy.
Fast forward to today and I can’t help but think that this movie wasn’t too far from reality. I’m getting used to a lot of things about living in Costa Rica, but I just can’t get over our ant issue. It’s not that I don’t like ants, or have any type of bug phobia. It’s more about the sheer number of them that begin invading our house once the rainy season starts.
They march single file under the doors and through each and every electrical outlet like they’re preparing for battle. As I watch them, I feel as if I should be selling war bonds or handing tools to Rosie the Riveter. Sometimes we come home from doing errands to find the outside of our house completely covered in ants.
“Uh… let’s come back in a few hours,” we say, forfeiting the fight before one grenade is launched.
Unless you enjoy breathing carcinogenic fumes on a daily basis, spraying insecticide is useless. The ants come back. Someone suggested using cinnamon sticks, but since I can’t find any at the store, I started dumping cinnamon powder all around the baseboards and kitchen counters. This has a nice effect of making my house look filthy while simultaneously causing it to smell like apple pies.
The ants are a nuisance, but how can I complain since they were here first? To them, I’m the one who is part of a colony of mutant, giant-sized monsters. There are days when living in harmony with my environment can be difficult, but the monkeys howling outside my window remind me that there is an eco chain that should never be broken, especially with something as toxic as a can of RAID. I know from experience that in time this ant invasion shall pass.
I suppose things could be worse: it’s not Planet of the Apes in my backyard yet, but you’ll be the first to know if the monkeys start knocking at my door and establishing a new rule of law.
And although the giant moths I do see aren’t quite the size of Mothra, this is Costa Rica… the rainy season has just begun.
This is what happens when moms leave the dads in control of the television.