The Perils of Novelty Pet Ownership

4 Dec

I think maybe recently I have been overdoing it slightly on the bartending posts but, as I mentioned, when it rains it pours so we must prepare ourselves for the oncoming drought.  Today, however, I am not going to recount to you the ridiculousness of my job but instead I will talk about something even more pressing:  my ant farm.

When I was little I never had an ant farm.  I had a dog and a cat. I had hamsters, gerbils, mice, a guinea pig, Charlie, that I inherited from my friend Alisha when she and her mom moved to Utah.  Charlie was cool.  One summer while I was at camp my mom got sick of Charlie and donated him to the local nursery school where he was very popular.  I don’t recall being overly pleased about that particular turn of events.  My mom has always had this tendency of just like, donating things without asking.  One year she donated all of my Care Bears and Popples.  I LOVED my Popples.  When I was really little I would walk around downtown Maplewood holding between 5 and 10 Popples by their tails, a big puff of stuffed animals that could be turned inside-out to reveal their alter egos:  soccer balls!  Baseballs!  Balls of no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever!  Granted, when my mom got rid of my Care Bears and Popples they had been sitting in plastic cartons in the basement for the better part of two years but then one day I wanted them and they were gone.  Same thing happened to my dad’s electric fry pan that he used no more than two times a year to make fried matzoh.  Nevermind that you can make just as good fried matzoh in a regular, non-electric fry pan.  It’s the principle!  If you don’t nail it down, off to some fundraising sale or another it goes!  NOTHING IS SAFE! I bet if I still lived at home I would one day wake up to find myself with a $5 sticker on my forehead in the basement of St. Francis during it’s annual garage sale, my mom standing with some perspective buyer saying

“Yea, she’s in perfectly good condition but at this point she’s just taking up space.”

Anyway, back to the farm.  I never had a farm.  On top of the multitude of normal-kid pets, I had one of those see through frogs.  Remember those?  My see-through frog initially came as a tadpole with teeny tiny legs and I got to see him morph.  Then he just hung out at the bottom of the tank with his arms outstretched, looking dead.  One time in the middle of the night I thought he WAS dead and I had a total meltdown and ran into my parents room screaming.  He wasn’t dead but I think it made my parents concerned about the depth of my attachments to animals that were either stuffed or imitated being dead about 95% of the time.  Then they bought me sea monkeys.  I ordered them from the back of my older brother’s comic book and you know what I discovered?  They were not monkeys AT ALL.  They were microscopic specks (AKA brine shrimp) that you could only see using a magnifying glass and even then I was fairly convinced the company had just sent me a tank with some specks of dirt in it.  Even with all these ridiculous mail order pets I never had an ant farm.  That is, until about 3 weeks ago.

So there I was, out with a few friends, talking about this and that (and ant farms), when my friend Mike went on his Amazon Prime account from the bar and ordered not one but two ant farms.  Two days later I received the following text, with accompanying photographic evidence:

Mike: So…2 of these Ant Farms showed up at my apartment on Sunday! Do you still want one?
Me: I’m so excited!
Me: Did you put your ants in???
Mike: It doesn’t come with the ants so I ordered them separately. Probably get them early next week.
Me: Why wouldn’t it come with ants?
Me: What good is an ant farm with no ants??
Me: Are you excited about the farm?!
Mike: I am, but I want the ants!
Me: Me too!!!
Me: Antzzzzzz!

For anyone wondering, this conversation is typical and is a reason why no one should ever give me their phone number. Ever.

Fast forward about a week and, you guessed it, arrival of the ants!  They came from Utah and they have no Queen because apparently it is illegal to ship the Queen into New York. Also, they bite.  Mike found out the hard way.  You have to transfer the ants from a tube into the farm and in the process one escaped, bit Mike and then, in all the surprise and hubbub, got smashed.  RIP ant.  Obviously, being afraid of death by tiny ant pincer, I made Mike transfer my ants into their new home which is not made up of sand like the days of yore, but is instead comprised of this weird blue goo that is like the trifecta of awesome: tunnel component, food, AND hydration.  Ant super food!  The first few days of ant ownership were blissful.  My ants were busy at work, tunneling away! Sometimes they made tunnels that brought them back up to the surface, sometimes they made tunnels that for some reason they didn’t like and abandoned, and sometimes they made tunnels that were secret passages to previously made tunnels.  Ants that perished along the way were deposited in the discarded pile of blue goo on the east side of the farm to where other ants occasionally came to pay their respects.  Then, one day, the ants stopped.  They had built all the tunnels they wanted to build.  They found the deepest most section of the tunnel and now many of them crouch there, in eager anticipation of the arrival of their Queen.  Only she will never come.  She is stuck in Utah.  The few ants that have come to understand this reality have now set upon excavating the rubber strip that secures the lid onto the farm.  This is both sad and alarming.  It would be terrible to be bitten by this now bitter and angry horde of ants.  Realistically, I don’t think they will manage to escape because the rubber strip is big and is affixed to extremely hard plastic, plastic that event insects capable of carrying 50 times their own weight cannot contend with.  So now I avoid looking at my ants because every time I do I feel like a horrible asshole.  So now the question remains:  do I free them into the wilds of Brooklyn where they will surely die, or do I leave them inside their prison where they will also surely die?  Sigh.

In conclusion, owning novelty pets as an adult is fraught with feelings of anxiety, guilt, and internal monologues about mortality and the meaning of life.  And to my ants:  I am sorry.

4 Responses to “The Perils of Novelty Pet Ownership”

  1. Josh December 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    They are from Utah and you live in ‘South Slope’ they will do just fine. And in a few months they will live in a bigger apartment than yours, have ridiculous mustaches, wear stupid hipster hats and wear brooklyn shirts…..

    • FranklyRebekah December 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      I do not live in South Slope but that is a conversation for another day. 🙂 Hehe..I am imagining the smallest little skinny jeans ever.


  1. Poop, Ghosts and Baby Chickens | franklyrebekah - December 10, 2013

    […] human being.  I have a job where things happen that people like to read about.  I have an ant farm that at first provided me hours of entertainment which then morphed into soul crushing guilt […]

  2. What I’ve Learned So Far in 2014 | franklyrebekah - January 6, 2014

    […] my left arm.  Another one in my hair.  I became convinced that I had bedbugs.  Then I thought, what if the ants escaped!  (They didn’t.)  Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I had the following thought: it […]

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