The Trouble with Ants … and Fancy Pants

By  | October 20, 2009 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Posts by M. Boilard

My older sister and I are separated by 15 months. In our younger years we were the same height, the same weight and all around the same size, so therefore many would mistake us for twins. We were two tow-headed peas wrapped in fine polyester/cotton pods, handcrafted by our ever-so-talented mother.

Mom sewed everything … shirts, pants, skirts, pj’s and even a coat or two for her children; all on her treadle Singer sewing machine. I won’t speak for my sister, but there were times when I resented the result of Moms efforts. Today I am somewhat ashamed of those ungrateful feelings; for I now know that she did everything she could for each and every one of her six children, despite the fact that money was tight.  As girls, we were always impeccably dressed; but still I confess, her resourcefulness instigated a mild form of rivalry between my sister and me.

I did not like being a ‘just-about’ twin. I resented the trim on my sister’s dress matching my blouse, and the plaid of her pants matching that of my skirt. I vividly recall our little summer tops…pop-tops we called them. They were sleeveless, barely reaching our waist, buttons down the back with two rows of ruffles along the front, bottom edge. I can still clearly see them with my mind’s eye. Mine was a pretty pink with a double white/blue gingham ruffle. My sister’s was of white/blue gingham with a pretty pink, double ruffle. Our shorts; mine a chambray blue with dark blue cuffs and tie at the waist, and my sister’s; dark blue with chambray cuffs and tie. Now, match this look with identical, short bobbed haircuts and you’ll have a clear picture of the almost-twins, standing nose to nose one summer’s day, out in the middle of the hay field behind our house, both seething resentment over their double-image effect.

My older sister was a tomboy, who was highly susceptible to the ‘I dare you’ game. My brother once dared her to dive into a mud puddle, so the silly girl obliged him with a giant belly flop into the largest one she could find. I admired her for her bravery though; as she would never waver under the disapproving eyes of our parents whenever caught in the act of one of her misdeeds. I rarely taunted her like our brother, but as a result of the anger I felt, looking squarely into her face that day …I did it.

“I dare you to… stand on The Hill!”

It may sound like a benign statement to you, but the fact is that The Hill was an extremely large ant hill on the edge of our property that always teemed with thick, glossy black ants. As kids we knew well to leave it alone, however to my amazement that day, my sister took bait and began to dance and stomp on The Hill.

I can still feel how my eyes widen from the chill of concern that crept up my spine. Sister held my gaze as she danced and pranced – slowly at first, and then faster and faster. It wasn’t long before her gaze began to falter and then finally, her eyes broke free of mine as her dance became wild and frenzied with arms waving frantically above her head.

“Get them off …Get them off…Get them off!” she shrieked to the beat of her dance.

Terrified that she would die; I ran to her and began wildly swatting at her back, her head, her legs, and her arms…the ants were everywhere. Sadly, despite my efforts, I too began my own dance right along side of her. I’m sure we presented an odd picture to anyone driving by on the highway, for little did anyone realize that what made those two crazy girls dance in the field, were those angry black ants in their matching fancy pants.

It was the sharp ‘come-hither’ whistle that jerked us back to sanity. Supper was ready, and Pop’s famous high-pitched whistle was well known as one that was not to be ignored. So despite our agony, we ran jerkily toward the house in our fancy attire, arms still swatting ourselves and each other.

Finally, sitting in our strategic places across from each other at the large supper table, we managed to eat in relative peace, staring often at one another in secrecy, twitching now and again with the odd pinch. During our rice pudding dessert, my father piped up in a loud inquisitive voice and asked his eldest daughter.

“What were you two doing way out in that field…fighting again I suppose?”

Although my sister fell easily to the dare game…she never…ever…squealed. She was always loyal in our fights and again, I admired her for it.

“No… just playin.” she smiled sweetly with her reply.

My brother, always ready with his uninvited two cents, snorted,

“Naw…they were probably having a royal hissy-fit”

Pop laughed aloud at his son’s wit, always welcoming a new English word.

“Hissy- fit”?  He laughed aloud again. “…Yah…royal hissy-fit! It sure looked like it!”

As everyone else laughed and chattered through dessert, we said nothing, with heads down peering at one another from under our thick bangs. I was suddenly horrified, as a large stray ant crawled inquisitively from under my sister’s arm, up around her wrist, and then slid off… right into her rice pudding. It struggled a bit and then clung helplessly to a raisin. My sister’s eyes drifted from mine to the ant and back to mine, glowing with her faint wicked smile. Suddenly and completely unexpectedly, she moaned aloud with mock weariness.

“I’m so full…I can’t finish my pudding. You want it?” She asked sweetly, as she slowly pushed her half-full bowl toward our brother.

I could not believe my brother’s gullibility. My hapless brother, still pleased with his wit, only had eyes for Pop’s approving nod.

“Sure…go ahead. We wouldn’t want her to have another royal hissy-fit would we?” Pop grinned from ear to ear.

‘Yeah…’ my brother laughed, as he mindlessly grabbed the bowl and quickly finished off its contents….raisins and all.

MB

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