Black Cats and the Great Oklahoma Ant War

black cat color


If you grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, the best thing about the Fourth of July was Black Cats.

I could spend hours pushing the firecrackers into ant holes and blowing them up, just to show the ants who was in charge.

But the ants weren’t stupid. After a few kabooms, if they saw me holding a firecracker and walking toward their ant hill, they knew I was about to ruin their whole day.

So they smartened up.

After I’d lit a fuse and jumped away, several hero ants would climb onto the burning fuse, get turned into silver death, and extinguish the fuse. So no kaboom.

This meant I had to wade back into the ant hill and try to light a fuse that was now perhaps one-eighth-inch long or waste the firecracker.

Now, it’s hard enough to do that when there are no distractions. But when dozens of angry ants (and uncles … it had to be said) go on the offensive, it’s impossible.

The ants started splitting up into two groups.  The hero ants would hurl themselves onto the fuses.  Meanwhile, the fricken jihadi ants who would climb up my legs as far and fast as they could go and sting the fire out of me.

Which would take all the fun out of it, and simultaneously require that I get even.

Now, if you are a boy between the ages of 10 and 99, when you are holding explosives, what little commonsense you might have had sort of goes up in smoke.

During a particularly nasty battle with some really nasty big black ants, I had been stung more times than I had successfully blown up their stupid ant hills.

Needs More Gasoline

So, clearly, I needed to pour gasoline on it.  Figuratively. 

I mean, I was stupid, but not THAT stupid.  My Dad was a Fire Marshall, and I knew full well what would happens if I ignited gasoline: my Dad would explode my butt.

So, no gasoline.

Instead, I decided to impale a long-handled shovel right next to the ant hill, uproot the whole dang thing, and then —  here’s the great part — light a 100-pack of Black Cats and carpet bomb the little bastards.

It was a great plan.  At least on paper.  Much like the Little Big Horn, I suspect.

This particular ant battleground was like concrete because it was August in Oklahoma. 

So it was just not possible to stab the shovel into the ant hill from a safe distance.  

So I leaped over the ant hill and, in one smooth motion, hurled the shovel deep into the anthill, just as my Indian ancestors had hurled their lances into wild buffalo.

Except the shovel fell over and several ants got into my converse tennis shoes and stung me.  Which meant it was war. 

But, as I said, the ground was like concrete. And I was not a big kid.  So I had to jump up and down on the shovel.

Meanwhile, approximately 10 million really angry red ants were racing up the shovel and onto my arms and exposed legs.

Some stung me on impact. But the truly evil ones ran up my bare legs, got under my cut-offs, and proceeded to sting me with reckless abandon right in the Boy Zone, if you catch my drift.

Ladies, you may not be able to understand exactly how much this hurt. Let me just say that it hurt a lot.

But, as a guy, I innately knew that casualties were part of warfare.

So I just kept leaping up and down on the shovel, while simultaneously trying to smash the ants in my pants without smashing my dangly bits.

After what seemed like ages, I had finally succeeded in breaching the enemy ants’ fort.

And I could see bazillions of the bastards. All of them crazy angry. Running in all directions.  Some carrying eggs. Some throwing little tiny hand grenades at me.

I smirked a Bruce Willis’ Smirk, lit the fuse, leaped over the exposed Ant bed and released the Black Cat payload.

black cats

It was beautiful, until the strand of firecrackers bounced right out of the hole.

By the time I had gotten the firecrackers back in the hole, I had been stung, conservatively speaking, 10 million times. Maybe more. But it was all worth it.

Because I was now watching half the ant colony climb onto the long string of Black Cats. I really wanted to watch this, so I leaned directly over the ant bed.

When they started exploding, every kaboom hurled a battalion of completely unreasonable ants up into the air and onto my head and down my shirt.

Who’s Your Ant Daddy?

I ripped off my shirt and cutoffs and started slapping all the ants who were having a great time stinging me to death.

To this day I have no idea how many times I was stung. I know that I was covered with welts on my chest and arms and legs. And my neck was on fire.

I had so much ant venom in me that I was sick to my stomach and started to get a fever.  So I left the shovel and went home.

Despite the fact that I had almost been killed in this daring mission, my mother was not at all happy.  Go figger.

In fact, she sent me back into harms way the very next day to collect the stupid shovel.

On the long walk to the battleground, I started to smile, and then to gloat. Sure, I’d been stung, but did I kick those stupid ants’ butts or what?

When I got to the scene of the epic battle, it was like nothing had happened. They had rebuilt everything overnight.

Dozens of ants were still walking up and down my shovel handle, ready to sting it to death if it so much as flinched.

There was nothing to do but shake off the ants, declare victory, go home, and put on more ointment.

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