An overactive imagination coupled with a tendency to self-diagnose can make life difficult. It doesn't help that the world has up and gone fucking crazyballs. People are eating each other’s faces off in Florida. News outlets threaten influenza from any number of farm animals. Whole television shows are devoted to insane people who eat nail polish or are obsessed with sniffing doll heads (I'm serious). It’s all enough to make a guy go crazy, and after what happened last week, I’m about ready to give up and seal myself in a giant tupperware coffin for the rest of eternity.
I was sitting on my couch watching a movie and absent-mindedly snacking from a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips. I had nearly finished the bag when I happened to glance at a chip before popping it into my mouth and was startled by what I saw. The little flavor specks were larger than normal, and for a moment my brain didn’t register what they were. When I realized that they were actually dozens of dead, curled-up black ants, I felt a sudden wave a nausea overtake me. My mouth went dry. I dropped the chip back into the bag and then sat very still for a moment. I couldn’t quite reconcile the reality of eating a few dozen potato chips covered in ants without realizing it. Nervously, I peered inside the bag and saw hundreds of ants resting at the bottom, possibly an inch of them piled up around the few remaining chips. Instinctively, my hand jerked and I tossed the bag away from me.
I freaked. There’s no eloquent way to describe my reaction. I freaked the shit out. My knees went weak and I started gagging uncontrollably on the floor. I don't want to live anymore, I thought. I would have gladly invited death. I couldn’t imagine existing in a world where chip bags might house whole colonies of dead ants. To make matters worse, it had been a new bag of chips, meaning the ants had shipped from the factory.
In such an unpredictable, messed-up world, snack foods should remain a safe haven of comfort. How is one supposed to remain sane in the face of such chaos? How am I expected to bring children into a world full of anguish and fear?
It didn’t matter that the ants I'd ingested were dead. In my head, any one of those ants might be a queen with eggs that would hatch and feast upon my insides. I felt like vomiting. I feebly crawled into my bedroom, drew the shades, wrapped myself up in a blanket, and waited quietly to die. In the dark, I pondered what it would feel like to be eaten alive from the inside out by ant babies.
I fell asleep and in my dreams I had a giant pregnant belly full of gestating ants. When I woke, my hand instinctively touched my stomach, but it was thankfully unchanged. While I didn’t feel as nauseated anymore, my worries hadn’t subsided entirely. I still suspected I might have living things in me, and that I was a now an incubation chamber for insects.
For the rest of the day I was on edge. Something had awakened in me and I was now afraid of everything. I cleaned my whole apartment and Febrezed all my furniture, just in case they were full of tiny bugs. I refused to touch any doorknobs, lest they be contaminated with whatever virus was in 28 Days Later. When I had to take the bus that evening to meet a friend, it was all I could do fend off a panic attack at the sheer number of possible contagions that might very well surround me.
Even now, I lay in bed at night and wonder if there are still ants inside me, somehow living in harmony with my internal workings. I remember reading about a woman in India whose baby died during pregnancy, and since it was too large for the body to reabsorb, it calcified and remained inside her for several decades. It doesn’t seem so wild to imagine I might have a community of bugs tunneling through my bones, forming communities. Perhaps before long they'll tunnel into my brain and start controlling my thou—RSDKFJJJSUGAR SUGAR SUGAR WORK WORK WORK GIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE QUEEN YOU ARE A SLAVE TO THE QUEEEEEN