Sunday, 27 April 2014

Grown-up problems: When ants attack

I found ants in our kitchen.

I opened a cupboard and there they were: crawling on the tuna, nibbling at the chopped tomatoes and - worst of all - trying their luck with my peanut butter. It was like living in the creepy crawly room at the Natural History Museum except with real bugs.

It was Easter Sunday morning and there I was, attempting to annihilate the ant community by slapping it with a packet of udon noodles and screaming "Just F*** off you little sh*ts!" when I thought: how did I end up here?

Sure, I could recall wandering down the stairs with an overwhelming desire for peanutty buttery toast, but I couldn't quite summon the memory of the moment when this sort of crisis (yes, crisis - did you know ants have six legs EACH?!) became my responsibility. As I covered every corner of the house with ant powder (if only my mum's boil-the-kettle-and-soak-the-bastards approach worked indoors), I realised that at 28, the answer to that question is: ages ago.

There comes a time when you realise that calling your parents isn't always the quickest way to solve your problems. I found this out a couple of years ago when a friend and I returned to the room we were sharing after a night out to discover a large spider on the floor. She screamed, I screamed, and the spider just sat there looking evil. And though we were terrified, we resolved not to call her dad who was probably asleep and definitely a three-hour drive away to help us fight this monster, but to pop it under a glass until the morning. Neither of us slept much that night but at least her dad did.

I think I imagined that by the time I was old enough to own a house and get married I would just magically know how to deal with all the grown-up problems that would come our way: the insect infestations, the locks that suddenly decide to break, the garden than seems utterly determined to evolve into one giant weed... But I don't and neither does he so, unfortunately, we have to work this sh*t out by ourselves.

Well, I say by ourselves but what I really mean is that we use Google. At the press of a button my search for 'how to make ants get out of my kitchen' led me to websites and discussion forums with every suggestion I could need (although I don't recommend reading too many of them - finding out about the variety of places people across the world have found ants was almost enough to make me sell up and live on a boat). And it turns out there's these wizards called 'Locksmiths' who can make even the most knackered of door security mechanisms work with just a drill and some cash. Incredible.

But of course, we can still go to our parents for advice from time to time, in fact I'm sure they'd hate it if we didn't. (How else is my mum supposed to pass on her ant extermination wisdom? She's right, they most definitely do not like Dettol.) But we're old enough now to at least do a little thinking and research of our own before automatically speed-dialling Home.

Adulthood seems to happen overnight. I imagine everybody feels like that. One minute you're thinking about whether you've successfully nailed the dance moves to Stop! by the Spice Girls and the next you're sat having dinner with your husband discussing whether the best way to solve ant-gate is just to get a new kitchen.

Now I come to mention it, I might just see what my parents think about that one.

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