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.