Dec 062010
Authors: Jim Sojourner

The tides of war are turning. Multimedia Editor Johnny Hart and I are losing our two-front war.

We should’ve learned from Napoleon, and we should have learned from Hitler, but alas, it seems, at least in this case, even those who do know history are doomed to repeat it.

You see, Hart and I share a small apartment next to campus. We moved in mid-August and settled in. The place was warm, cozy, and, best of all, cheap.

Hart and I lived in peace for about a week, enjoying the comforts of our new home. We drank some microbrews, surfed some broadcast television channels and ate some freshly-cooked, packaged and canned food. Life was good.

And then, in our moment of lazy, complacent contentedness, they struck.

Hordes of tiny black ants invaded our floor, our coffee table and our lives. They crawled through the fibrous carpets and around the table legs; they crawled behind my computer monitor, and they crawled into the bowls of packaged and canned food we’d left around the house.

Lines of ants marched steadily and unwaveringly through our living space. Their dedication to their mission, it seemed, was unmatched. It was as if our move-in had been the first act of war and our invasion had stirred something powerful in their little ant hearts.

They were ready to die in droves for their cause. The ant uprising had begun.

With speed, I organized a counter attack. I had to make use of my advanced knowledge of tactics and my superior firepower capabilities to bring the war to a quick end. So off I flew to Walmart, where I marshaled my resources and bought a can of Raid and some ant traps.

Back at home, the ant hordes were no match for me. I watched with sick glee while below me, choking in pungent gas clouds, the ants crumpled into balls and shuttered as they breathed their last toxic breath. Victory, I thought, was imminent.

Though I could not find the clever beasts’ base of operations, I was sure I had killed enough to break their collective insectoid will, so I declared victory. I had quelled the uprising. Mission accomplished.

But success was short lived, as Hart and I soon had a full-blown ant insurgency on our hands. The more we kill, the more that crawl out of their ant tunnels to harass and terrorize our daily lives. They crawl through our sheets, sneak into our fridge and even invade our clothing.

Day after day we walk the hallway to our apartment, hearts racing and breath stifled, unsure whether this day we’ll be met with relative peace and quiet, or cells of ants, ready to sacrifice their exoskeletony bodies to drive us from their land –– death by a thousand cuts.

Were we to focus our full attention on the ant insurgency, I think we could, just maybe, handle it on its own. But, just weeks ago, our own kitchen implements rebelled against us.

Believing that by freeing them from their stifling cardboard prisons we would forever gain their loyalty, we intended our relationship with the dishes, pans and silverware to be one of mutual prosperity.

But, when the reality of kitchen life under our reign became painfully apparent –– days covered in crusty food, loved ones disappearing for weeks, months or forever under dark couches or beds ––, the kitchen became a war zone. It’s not that we didn’t try to help, but our best efforts to keep kitchen life clean, healthy and worry-free haven’t been enough for the population that seems to expect us to create utopia, and the dirty, bitter implements have made such efforts impossible without much suffering.

Each time we seem to triumph with the dishwasher, we turn around to find a new pile of dishes, gritty with food, ready to fight. Hearts and minds –– I tell myself –– hearts and minds.

But it’s only a matter of time before the ants strike again. I’d hoped the ant traps would kill them. They didn’t. I’d hoped the winter cold would kill them. It didn’t. Decades of battle against invaders have hardened the ant clans and the fight will be a long one –– one I’m no longer sure we can win.

The two-front war is taking its toll. The combined forces of the ant insurgency and the dish rebellion are grinding on our morale and bogging us down in a strategic quagmire. Victory is difficult to achieve against an enemy we can’t seem to find, let alone destroy, so we’ve set a withdrawal date for July 31 of next year.

Though Hart and I are sure to leave declaring our occupation of Apartment 62 a success –– and in some ways we’ll be right –– we know it’s the new residents who’ll have to clean up the mess we leave behind.

Best of luck, folks. You’ll need it. And remember to never get involved in a land war in Asia … or against the ants.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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