I lead a very small life. I get up in the morning, have coffee, stumble around, and try to wake up. I kiss my husband and pet the cat, or maybe the reverse. I can’t always remember. Most days, I sit down and write. Unfortunately, sometimes I have an appointment, errand, or chore that has been relegated to the morning, which is never my idea, but you can’t always control the world. I would rather sit down and write in the morning. Hence, mornings are predictably boring, followed by afternoons and evenings of…well…nothing much.
It’s possible my saving grace as a writer is my vivid and unpredictable imagination. I never know where my mind is going to go, taking me and my five senses along. If I witness something or hear a conversation between people or even animals, I am likely to concoct an entire scenario around that. No, I am not a dog, cat, or horse whisperer. It’s not just the words I pay attention to, anyway, but the emotions behind them. Plainly put, the world and its inhabitants are grist for my mill even though I have no mill and I’m not completely sure what a grist is. But I do love the phrase. And the sentiment.
Regarding the ants in the tequila, it was not about calling Orkin or Terminix. Our condo is ground level, in the midst of many gardens. I am surrounded by all sorts of living creatures that do not bother to knock and wait to be asked in. I am used to uninvited guests. However, I have never encountered ants in any of our booze before, let alone the tequila. Yet there they were, floating around, dead drunk, not a suicide note to be found. My writer’s mind clicked in. Where to go with this?
My instinct said this incident might be an article, blog, or flash fiction. It wasn’t novel material. For where was the story? And characterizations? Would I make one of the floaters my protagonist? Would I name him Harry? Or, as the ratio of female to male ants in a typical colony is three to one, Henrietta, Frieda, or Penelope? A lonely guy/gal, having left the nest, out on the town, only to find a pool of tequila too irresistible to ignore? No, no. No novel here.
In the meantime, we threw the bottle of nearly full tequila out, ants and all. Never mind that alcohol is a natural antiseptic, purifying anything it touches. I read that’s how the early Romans made such headway in Europe. The legions traveled on their stomachs, with a canteen of watered down wine by their sides to drink, as opposed to the local water. No local water, no dysentery. An inebriated, but hale and hearty group of marauders. That’s the Romans.
But back to my tequila and those marauding ants. My margarita days were at an end. I didn’t care if all the bacteria had been killed by the alcohol. Do not talk logic to me now, oh mighty Caesar. The sight of those small beasties drifting face down in the Don Julio, happy though they may have been at the end, did me in. I moved on to rum. Then I pondered on how to write about this incident.
Which is how the tale came to be right here, right now. All is grist for the mill, donchaknow, even though I’m still not completely sure what a grist is.
7 thoughts on “Ants in the Tequila by Heather Haven”
And by the way, Annelise, I’d love to read your story! Maybe you can share it with us at a later time?
Heather, what a fun post! It is so true, what a writer’s mind can concoct out of the smallest of things. Well written and entertaining!
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Thank you, Paty! It was fun to write.
Alcohol and insects? Who knew? LOL. Oddly enough we have noticed a dearth of ants in our homes in my area, and we’re not sure why that is. Perhaps because I don’t have any alcohol in the house? And yes, I looked up “grist,” and found I did know what it meant, “grain,” but not its extended meaning, something that “can be used profitably.” Thanks for the education.
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Susan, thanks for your comments. It has been an education for me, too. Why wouldn’t they go after the Triple Sec? Much sweeter. I have no idea. Grist means grain? Hmmm. And there we are. I looked it up, too.
This brings back memories. When I was poor and going to school for my nursing degree I took an English class and the prof wanted us to keep a diary for a couple of weeks. One night while studying, i noticed there were 4 or 5 cockroaches milling about in a cabinet which contained nothing but a bottle of cheap sloe gin. My imagination took hold (after I dispatched the roaches, though they always came back because the gal living in the apartment beneath me was a pig and would never let the exterminators in) I concocted a lengthy story about that group of cockroaches and what happened when they got drunk on sloe gin. I made that story my diary entry for two days.
I got an A.
And more proof, Annelise, that a writer’s mind is unending and fascinating!! Thanks for the feedback.
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