I watched an old CSI show the other day where Grissom told a story about a guy who found a spider swimming in his toilet. For a couple of mornings the guy watched the spider struggling to survive the maelstrom of flushing. One morning, the guy decided to rescue the spider. He took it out of the water and set it on the floor. The next day, he found the spider dead. “Why,” Grissom asked, “did the spider die? Because one life impinged on another.”
In my case, it’s ants I find, and my tale is about ants in the microwave. At this time of year, ants are an epidemic, so it’s difficult to keep on top of the infestation. (I’m telling you this so you don’t think the microwave is filthy. It isn’t.) I don’t like killing anything, not even insects, but if you don’t keep on top of the little critters, they go home and tell all their friends about a great party house they found, and the next thing you know, you have ants boogieing all over the place, even on your body when you sleep. Not a pleasant way to be awakened, that creepy-crawly sensation. (Cinnamon sprinkled in corners, by doors, and under windows usually keeps ants away, but a few manage to find other ways into the house.)
The same day I watched CSI, I opened the microwave door after heating some food and found a couple of Pharoah ants scurrying around inside. (Pharoah ants are more commonly known as sugar ants because they are attracted to sweets and greasy foods. Sounds like most of us, doesn’t it?)
Obviously, the ants were inside when I started the oven, so they should have been nuked, but they weren’t.
A bit of research explained why they survived. Microwave ovens don’t heat evenly, so ants can hide in the cool corners. Ants have a relatively small amount of water inside their bodies compared to their outside surface, and apparently it’s the water that heats up in a microwave. This large body surface compared to their volume helps cool them down, so if they make a mistake and end up in a hot spot, their heat dissipates quickly.
So here we have a tale of two insects, one whose life was impinged on by another, and one whose life remained unimpinged.
The moral is . . . I don’t know. Perhaps that we have to live our lives the best way we know how, and if we impinge on other lives, so be it. It could even be that impinging is what life is all about.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.