Ants and Their Rocks

The ant pushed the boulder.

Now, you may be thinking “ants can’t push boulders, they’re too small.” But to an ant a boulder could be the size of a piece of aquarium gravel, or smaller, depending on the size of the ant. Those little red fire ants are much smaller than those large black carpenter ants. You see what I’m saying here? Try to look at it from the ant’s perspective for a while, at least through the end of this tale. It’ll make it easier on both of us.

Come to mention it don’t those carpenter ants look sort of like a big bold colon. No, colon as in : not the one inside you. But, I digress…

This ant, the one that was pushing the boulder (which incidentally was a chipped piece of concrete from the patio that he was currently traversing was, in fact, a carpenter ant. A small one though. Actually, he was the smallest of the hive of full grown adult carpenters. Have you ever seen a baby ant? Baby ants are ugly! They are mostly just larvae and pupa until they can walk. Nasty little buggers, no pun intended.

And this was the reason he was pushing the boulder. He was often ridiculed. Due to his small size he was unable to perform much of the work that the other, larger ants did. “Fred,” they would heckle, “if you can’t keep up then why don’t you go and eat wood with the termites at the other end of the tree.” And this would infuriate him.

We learn a couple of important things about Fred in that last paragraph.

First, we learn that the ant’s name is Fred. He actually preferred being called Fred as opposed, to say, Carpenter Ant Dude. He felt stupid every time someone actually referred to him or his fellow ants as carpenters. The truth is that carpenter ants don’t build anything. They don’t even eat wood like termites do. The most harm a carpenter ant would do to a piece of wood, a tree stump or a telephone pole was to hollow it out a bit to make room for the nest. And they always make sure to neatly pile the wood dust that they create neatly nearby. Fred often wondered if the intent was to pack it back in the hole in the case the hive ever decided to leave. He doubted it.

Secondly, Fred is taunted and as a result a very insecure ant. Imagine being an insecure ant? How about an insecure ant that is the smallest of the hive? Eeesh. Not a fun thing to think about. The confidence needed just to be an ant must be enormous as it is.

He continued to push the boulder across the patio, thinking that with each step, push and grunt that he was getting strong. In all actuality, Fred had reached his maximum size and strength as he conditioned his body. This is what he did when the other ants told him to go play with the termites. He worked out.

He would never be bigger or stronger than he was right now, though. Never reach the potential that he hoped he had in him. Let’s not tell him that though, ok? Even though it would do nothing physically for him it is working wonders for the opinion he has of himself.

All the heckling didn’t help with the Queen, either. Fred wanted to have little larvae of his own someday. But the queen, Latieefa, had never given him a second look. Well, he didn’t think he had ever seen her actually. All the better, probably, you know what they say about ant with small size, right? Well, let’ not go there. Keep it clean. We wouldn’t want human larvae and pupa asking awkward ant reproduction questions in classes or such. That just wouldn’t do now would it? But still, Fred had questions about how and where the pupa and larvae were made. He was curious is all.

So, Fred, in the end would do like many do when. He would keep pushing the object thinking it was bigger than it really was. Getting nowhere but actually feelings as if he were and wondering why his life was getting any better.

Two days later a bouncing ball, thrown haphazardly, would take Fred’s life.

Two young human pupa would take note (Fred’s dark colon-like body actually stood out on the light concrete of the patio). They would comment on the poor ants small size, for a carpenter ant anyway, as they hunched over him and his legs ceased to twitch.

One of the human pupa, whose name was Lisa, would poke at him roughly and ask the other, Derrick, if he thought ants had penises. Derrick, age eight, quickly sees an opening. But he only shrugs and asks Pupa Lisa if she wanted to play doctor again. Lisa returns the shrug and they disappear into the house, forgetting about the ant and the ball.

As the two young humans commence in their new activity, Fred watches from the big hive in the sky and many of his questions on where larvae and pupa come from were answered.