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.

We spent hours and hours pushing the firecrackers into ant holes and blowing them up, just to show the stupid ants how patriotic we were.

But the ants really weren’t that 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 wised up.

After I had deposited the firecracker in their hole, lit a fuse and jumped away, several hero ants would climb onto the burning fuse and extinguish it when there was about an eighth of an inch of fuse left. 

So no kaboom, which was really annoying.

Now, it’s hard enough to light fuses when the ants are starting to get unhappy.

But when the firecracker is jammed deep into an ant hill, and it has a really short fuse, and dozens of angry red ants are going crazy, it’s nearly impossible. 

But you still had to try.  

On one short-fuse effort, I got stung a lot and never did get the dumb firecracker lit.  So I just gave up and went home. 

Not hardly. No self-respecting Okie boy would ever let a bunch of ants call him a woosie. 

I just needed to get more strategic.  And by “strategic”, I mean involving gasoline. A lot of gasoline.

But my Dad had been a Fire Marshall.  I knew full well what would happen if I ignited gasoline trying to kill ants.  My Dad would have exploded my butt.

So, no gasoline.

Instead, I walked all the way home to get our long-handled shovel.

I decided to uproot the whole big, fat ant hill and —  here’s the great part — light a brand new 100-pack of Black Cats and carpet bomb all the ants.

It was a great plan.  At least on paper.  

But this particular ant colony was in a field, and the ground was hard as concrete because it was August. 

I wasn’t a big kid, so I had to jump up and down on the shovel to make any headway.  Meanwhile, a bunch of angry ants started running up the shovel. 

And my legs.

Some stung my ankles. But the kamikaze ants ran under my cut-offs and proceeded to sting me right in the Boy Zone, if you catch my drift.

The pain was excruciating, but war is war. I kept leaping up and down on the shovel, while simultaneously trying to smash the ants in my pants.

Many stings later, I finally succeeded in breaching the enemy ants’ fort.

I turned the who thing over. And I could see bazillions of them scurrying around carrying eggs. 

I lit the 100-pack of Black Cats and dropped it right into their hole and waited for glory.

black cats

Hundreds of ants climbed onto the firecrackers, but I knew they had no chance of extinguishing this big, fat fuse.  So I leaned directly over the ant bed to watch them all die.

Really bad idea.

As I mentioned earlier, every firecracker was covered with ants.  Every time a firecracker exploded, it killed some ants and hurled others way into the air, and they covered me head to toe. 

I swatted them out of my hair, tore off my t-shirt and jumped out of my cut-offs. But it was way too late.

There was no way to know how any times I got stung.  I know that I was covered with big welts on my chest and arms and legs.  My neck was on fire.  And don’t even ask about the boy zone. 

I had so much ant venom in me that I got sick to my stomach and started to run a fever.  I left the shovel and limped home. 

Despite the fact that I had almost been heroically killed, my mother was not the least bit impressed.  I got doctored up and put to bed with no sympathy whatsoever.

The next morning Mom ordered me back to the war zone to collect Dad’s  shovel.

On the long walk, I started to smile. Sure, I’d been stung a lot, but did I kick those stupid ants’ butts or what? Yes I did!

When I got to the scene of the epic battle, ready to gloat big time,  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.

I kicked the ants off the shovel and went home.  If you believe that, you must be new here.  

I went home for more Black Cats.  And the gardening hoe. 

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