Mighty Antphrodite

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

If you leave an empty bottle of coca cola on the floor in Bali, within seconds it will be covered with tiny ants running around the rim. Should there be a coffee ring of sugary Balinese coffee on the table, the ants will soon be lapping it up. At first glance you might think they were running laps for exercise – with all that sugar, it’s no wonder they’re running around like crazy. But I think Balinese ants are a little more spiritual. Those coffee rings are their mandalas. High speed mandalas.

With their keen sense of smell, you’d think ants would have large schnozzes. But no, you can’t even see their noses. Ants can tell good food from meters away, yet we humans can walk right into a restaurant and then be surprised to get a bad meal. All when the food was right under our noses!

The difference is that the ants are being directionally driven by their nose, according to the Balinese cardinal directions: the mountain and the sea: “Aha! A pizza breeze coming from Mt. Agung at 2 knots. Everyone rise and get ready to march!”

“Aha, aha! From the direction of the sea comes a scant scent of cappuccino! Oh yes, not only that, I detect that the cappuccino belongs to that bule who always has five cubes of sugar!”

“Aha, aha, aha! And, my most sensitive schnoz tells me a secret about the bule: she is eating a slice of tiramisu today. Come, boys and girls! Sound the kulkul drum! March!”

I admire ants. It seems that everything they do is extraordinary.

The other day I came home from the gym completely exhausted. While I was sitting on the sofa resting, a tiny ant had the gall to trudge across the floor in front of me carrying a breadcrumb five times his size. How can he do that?! I work out four times a week at the gym and I could never carry something of those proportions. It was a terrific insult. I cancelled my gym membership.

Truly, ants are the hardest workers in my house. They even work on national holidays and they never take time off for ceremonies. But where do they get all that energy? They run around all day never needing to take a break. Think about it: Have you ever seen an ant just sitting around, resting?

And where do they get all that muscle power? Ants don’t even work out.

Maybe they do work out; I just don’t see them. At night when I’m sleeping, maybe they hold weightlifting contests in the kitchen.

Emcee ant: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Tuesday night weightlifting contest. Tonight we have three ants, each performing a very difficult maneuver. First, in the lightweight class, weighing in at one one-billionth of a gram, we have Ernie, who is going to lift a loaf of whole wheat bread.

(Ant crowd responds with polite applause).

Emcee: In the middleweight class we have Theodore, at 1.1 billionths of a gram, who will lift a piece of Indian nan.

Crowd: Ooooooh!

Emcee:  And in the heavyweight class we have Bruno, weighing in at a whopping 2 billionths of a gram. Bruno is going to lift what no ant has ever lifted before: a refrigerator. Just look at him flex all four biceps!

Crowd: Ooooooh! Ahhhhhhh!

Emcee: Just a reminder that after the contest we’ll have the usual arm-wrestling contest for ants up to 2 weeks old. First prize is one home-baked chocolate chip cookie morsel; second prize is a dried drop of honey; and third prize is a grain of sugar. For the little tykes up to 6 days old, we’ll have the usual single-file marching drill.

Before we start the weightlifting contest, I’d like to remind all adult ants to stay out of the empty beer cans until the performances are over. Any questions before we start? Yes? Ant in the back, go ahead.

Ant in the back: Excuse me, I’ve lost baby Justin. Would everyone take a moment and look around for him? He’s 6 days old, has a reddish-black body and walks in a zigzag.

Emcee: Everyone, please stop what you’re doing and look for baby Justin. Someone go check the bottoms of the bule’s shoes at the front door. Someone else check the soup pot on the stove. Weightlifting contestants, please relax for a few moments. The contest will start in five minutes.

I’ve now taken to reading fitness magazines rather than going to the gym. I’ll never look like the 20-year-old models on the cover, but I wouldn’t look like that even if I did work out. That’s because they’re getting paid to look like that. No one pays me to work out. So I can eat that chocolate ice cream in my refrigerator without feeling any guilt at all.

Hey, wait a minute. Where did the refrigerator go?

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