As if the people down in Houston don’t have enough to worry about, here is a new threat. Floating stinking colonies of fire ants. I read about this in an article I came across.
I hate fire ants.
I mean, I hate fire ants. Really. My deep loathing comes from several episodes in the American South during my tenure with the Army.
Once upon a time, I attended a rigorous course of instruction known as Officer Candidate School. It was the Army’s desire that I became an officer and a gentleman, and in order to achieve that lofty goal I had to endure months of sheer hell. A favorite activity of our instructors was to have us assume the push-up position (the “front leaning rest”) until muscle failure. You couldn’t get up no matter what, and heaven help you if you were the first one to quit.
So for long minutes we would hold that body position in full gear with sweat burning in our eyes. Arms trembling, we would refuse to quit.
And so there I was on that fateful day, in a field somewhere surrounded by my peers. My rifle lay across my hands, I was looking at the feet of the soldier in front of me.
My arms were burning, of course. My neck ached. Actually, pretty much everything hurt. And then I noticed something odd.
My hands were burning, too. The burn spread up my arms, and across my chest.
And that’s when I saw them on my rifle. Fire ants, lots of them. I was being stung all over, the little bastards were everywhere. I couldn’t help it, I yelled hoarsely.
An instructor came over. He laughed at me.
“Having trouble there, Candidate?”
“Sir, Officer Candidate Lambright. Sir, there’s fire ants all over me!”
“Well, get the hell up and brush yourself off, Candidate! There’s discipline, and then there’s stupid! Fix yourself and then go see the medics, son.” He paused and spoke to the others. “All right, Candidates, get up. There’s a fire ant nest in this field, looks like I’ll have to smoke y’all somewhere else next time.”
Thanks, buddy, I thought.
I hate fire ants.