May 10, 2002
I feel sorry for the ants. I probably shouldn’t. After all, they’re invading my kitchen, crawling all over my counter, and they’re getting crushed by my thumb. I still feel sorry for them. The Marquis de Sade, who was a philosopher in addition to being, well, the Marquis de Sade, said that all our actions are driven by instinct. That means instinct makes me crush the ants, but instinct also makes me feel bad about it. Go figure. What really made me think about this was the fact that this morning I crushed an ant carrying a little piece of coffee bean, and I thought how bad I’d feel if some giant crushed me under his thumb while I was getting my morning cup of joe. Of course the ant wasn’t doing it for herself (all worker ants are female, you know) but rather for the entire colony. And it was a big piece of coffee bean, too. If I had that much coffee I’d be hanging from the ceiling.
I read somewhere that ants can carry up to ten times their own weight, which is impressive until you think about how much an ant weighs. But I digress. There’s something a little too simplistic about our belief that ants are a kind of specialized team, an extraordinary assembly line where everybody works together. The fact is ants are all in it for themselves. In some old cartoons ants are portrayed as gathering together to declare war on picnickers, collectively carrying pies and turkeys. It’s a cute image, but in the kitchen the ants walk right by a five-pound bag of sugar that would go really well with all that coffee. Ants may be more like a human assembly line than we realize, with everyone just doing their job without any real interest in what anybody else is doing, but at least we get to take breaks, vacations, talk to each other at the water cooler. Ants don’t have any of that. The workers don’t even have sex. Worker ants probably follow each other, looking at the ant ahead and thinking, "Wow, she looks good. Lifting ten times her own weight has really paid off. Gee, I’d really like to…" And they can’t. Worker ants are probably leading lives of quiet desperation, unable to enjoy even the fruits of their own labor. When I think about that, I think maybe I’m doing a favor by crushing them.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
A kindergarten pupil told his teacher he’d found a cat. She asked him if it was dead or alive.
" Dead." She was informed.
"How do you know?" she asked her pupil.
"Because I pissed in its ear and it didn’t move," answered the child innocently.
"You did WHAT?!?" the teacher exclaimed in surprise.
"You know," explained the boy, "I leaned over and went ‘Pssst!’ and it didn’t move."
A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later…. "Da-ad…." "What?" "I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?" "No. You had your chance. Lights out." Five minutes later: "Da-aaaad….." "WHAT?" "I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??" "I told you NO!" If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!!" Five minutes later……"Daaaa-aaaad….." "WHAT!" "When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?"
An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, "How do you expect to get into Heaven?" The boy thought it over and said, "Well, I’ll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, ‘For Heaven’s sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!’"
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can’t dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy’s room."
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."
It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children’s sermon. All the children were invited to come forward. One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the pastor leaned over and said, "That is a very pretty dress. Is it your Easter Dress?"
The little girl replied, directly into the pastor’s clip-on microphone, "Yes, and my Mom says it’s a bitch to iron."
When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old came into the room when I was just getting ready to get into the shower. She said, "Mommy, you are getting fat!"
I replied, "Yes, honey, remember Mommy has a baby growing in her tummy."
"I know," she replied, but what’s growing in your butt?
A little boy was doing his math homework. He said to himself, "Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven. Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine…."
His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, "What are you doing?"
The little boy answered, "I’m doing my math homework, Mom."
"And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?" the mother asked.
"Yes," he answered.
Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, "What are you teaching my son in math?"
The teacher replied, "Right now, we are learning addition."
The mother asked, "And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?"
After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, "What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four."