Don’t Fear the Fire Ants

I’m in the habit of making semi-snide comments to my boyfriend about his iPhone/laptop addiction. Admittedly, this is not nice. Especially because, I’m a little bit addicted to my own digital crutches. (Yes, I know, you can’t be a little bit addicted… that’s like being a little bit fat.) I can’t even make dinner, garden, pluck a tick, or clean clumps of detritus out of my vacuum cleaner without first consulting the internet. Because the Internet knows everything. Everybody knows that.

Twitter. Are you there yet? I tried. My eyeballs are seeping fluids at the mere thought of the ubiquitous roll-call of tweets that infect nearly every page I visit, shooting holes in my serenity with their machine gun delivery – bam, bam, ba-bam bam BAM! Tinyurl actually exists. Have you thought about that one? Fills a need, sure, but wouldn’t it be a lot more fun if the majority of tweets didn’t exist only to direct you elsewhere? Like we need more virtual places to go!

Twenty years from now, our eyeballs will just fall out, just plain fall right out in protest, boing, boing, they’ll spring from our slack sockets on sinewy tethers like those trick glasses so popular among office-cube dwellers, except the red veins of fatigue will be oh, so real, and they won’t pop back in.

I was watching some documentary – yes, on one of the seven screens that dominate my life – and there were female human beings with bad, unkempt hair and brightly colored, aboriginal, robe-like clothing, sitting on the actual ground under a real, live tree of some kind, with broad leaves and graphic bark. I’d Google it, but (by the way, have you ever wondered how many verbs start with capital letters? NO, don’t you dare look it up, just don’t!) that would be just too hypocritical, because of all the afore-mentioned preaching I do about how we should strive to resist the knee-jerk, insta-knowledge, Pavlovian drool-bucket habit of Googling friggin’ everything within milliseconds of experiencing a knowledge gap anywhere near our increasingly feeble minds. As in, “Gee, I wonder what cow hooves are made of? I know, I’ll Google it!” Or your dinner mate says, “Yeah, it’s that movie with Susan Sarandon that starts with a ‘T’ and they drive off the cliff but I can’t think of the name…hey, let’s Google it!” Synapses are dying by the second every time we don’t bother trying to remember the name of that flower that grows by the side of the road.

So, under this real tree of which I know not the name and don’t care (wink, wink) these humans were shelling some kind of nuts or peas. (God help me not to look it up and please, Lord of the 21st Century, I beg you to help me learn to live with uncertainty, though my head implode with the strain.) They were just sitting around shelling these edible items with their fingers. Sitting in a circle, a bunch of women sitting directly on the earth’s surface without benefit of ergonomic chairs, swivel chairs, lounge chairs, gym balls, or, for that matter, walls, wall coverings, rugs, LED lighting, flats screens, mouse pads, infernal tangles of wires, drawers full of broken ear buds and headsets and obsolete phone chargers, paper clip dispensers, wrinkle cream, RSS feeds, or 5-hour energy drinks. OK, maybe they had a gourd filled with tepid water teeming with bacteria and a fried plantain wrapped in a leaf, but nary a Lazy Susan or wine caddy in sight.

My mind mini-convulses every time I think of living in such simplicity. But in a good way.

Air. Water. Tree. Gourd. Hand-woven basket. Hand-woven shawl. Mysterious vegetable item that shall go unnamed, consisting of a casing and the vegetable itself inside the casing, apparently suitable for eating. Shell goes here, vegetable goes in the basket. Boom, dinner. Sun above, earth below, fingers move, mind free and easy. Singing a song together, exhibiting sisterhood. Bathe in the river. Laugh at the goats. Walk back to your shelter. Nurse the baby. Know every face you see.

Sounds good, right. I wonder if they’d accept me into their tribe. And if so, how long it would take before I went stark-raving mad from shelling vegetables all day, and how soon that neck thing would kick in to leave me writhing in agony on the hard, barren earth. And if I sat on a nest of fire ants, would I have an allergic reaction and die of anaphylactic shock? Can fire ants give you an allergic reaction that could lead to anaphylactic shock?

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Photo credit: Alex Wild

Hang on a minute, I just need to…. Nooooooooo!

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