They only warn you about the operation of heavy machinery and alcohol. They say nothing about the ants. At first you do not feel them. Then you just pass it off as a random itch on your leg that you scratch without thinking about it. Then there is a tingly, not quite an itch, on or in your nose. You can’t quite tell. Is it a new perfume? Was this a Pavlovian response to an arriving aunt and her fabulous baked goods? The tingling quickly morphs into an itch, in your nose, in the well at the tip. Is anyone else feeling this? A few swipes try to take care of the itch, but no luck. A stutter-like rub with your knuckles is needed and does the trick.
But then the feelings moves to other parts of your body. Elbow, shoulder, the other thigh. Ear. Ear? Did they teleport there?! The creeping, crawling feeling and itching intensifies. Where are these ants coming from? They are invisible but, crap! Their little @#$@! mandibles hurt. You scream, Deal with these fingernails now, bitches! Thankfully no one looks at you. You scratch here, there, and everywhere. Head, shoulder, knees, and toes. When did ants get so itchy and persistent?
That is barely doing the trick. You need something stronger, harder. Look down, the Berber carpet! Take off your shirt and drag yourself along carpet in the guest bedroom and hope no one comes in. Ah, that feels good, better than good, sweet. It feels sweet. Your skin is a little raw so you gingerly put your shirt back on. Relief.
Downstairs the ceiling fan is on high, and that brings the itching back. Now it feels like they are burrowing into my organs. How do I scratch my spleen? Liver? I hope they stop before they reach the duodenum. This is some brutal shit. You need something sharper, more to the point. There must be something in the kitchen. Sharps drawer. Where is that? Don’t ask. Look. There. Okay. Relief soon, hang in there. Rummage, rummage. Corkscrew . . . maybe. Lemon zester . . . too small. Cheese grater! A big one! From Oxo. They really know how to make handles. Privacy needed. Pantry. Rub! Rub! Faster! Reverse order this time: toes, knees, shoulder, head. Ahhhh. Ahhhhh. Ouch! Crap. Now I am bleeding.
I can’t go back out there bleeding. Band-Aids. Who keeps Band-Aids in the pantry? Not this aunt. What else can stop the bleeding? Cereal? Too messy. Oatmeal? No water and no heat source. Cool Ranch Doritos? Might be cooling to the mouth but not to open wounds. Pop Tarts? Pop Tart Wrappers? Yes! Kinda crinkly. Who cares? Do it! Eat a few. Dryer than expected. Have the wrappers. Need adhesive. Where where where? Honey! Dab on the wounds. Head, shoulder, knees, and toes. Wrapper, wrapper, wrapper, wrapper. This will have to do. At least the bleeding has stopped.
Peek out. No one is there. Run out to the guest bathroom. Damn! Door locked and fan on. What uncle is in there? Any of them will take a long time.
Screw it. I’m outta here. Everyone is looking at the new baby. Run to the car. A few wrappers fly off. And you’re not wearing a shirt. Drive home. Hot bath. A sleeping pill. Ordeal finally over.
Since 1983, all family reunions have been presaged by a warning not mixing alcohol and the heavy machinery, no matter how sober you think you are. However, the family reunion this year was most remembered for the new addition to the family, six month old Georgia Kennedy Parrish, the absence of one of the middle cousins from the Wright side, and the curious case of the mess of Pop Tarts and mysterious shirt in the pantry.
Later you discover that one of the less-discussed side effects of the new medication you were on at the time is extreme itching. Anti-histamines can usually lessen the severity of the itching.