Have you ever had an experience that was so out of the typical realm of reality that people don’t believe you when you tell them? An experience so surreal that you thought it was a dream (or a nightmare)? I have a story that is so unimaginably real, that most don’t believe me when I share it. What say you?
My day had started like any other, which for me is with a glass of tea. I’m a sweet tea kind of gal and always have a pitcher of it in the fridge. I had forgotten to place my glass in the sink the night before, so I grabbed it and headed to the kitchen. On my way, I finished off what was in the glass and proceeded to refill it (’cause why dirty another glass?).
Lots of details. I know. Bare with me…
Later that day, I found myself at the local airport with my boyfriend at the time. He was working and I was visiting; a common occurrence back in those days. I noticed that my throat had been bothering me for the better part of the day. It was the kind of feeling you experience just before getting sick; throat constricting with a slight itch, combined with that mild burning sensation every time you swallow. I didn’t give it much thought as it was high time for hay fever to reek havoc, but as the day progressed, I realized that I didn’t have any of the other symptoms typical of allergy season: no itchy, watery eyes, no stuffy nose, no sinus pressure, no congestion… The more I thought about it, the possibility that something was lodged in my throat became of high concern.
After several attempts of hawking up whatever it was, I excused myself to the restroom. I retched, coughed, gargled- tried everything I could to dislodge what was possibly caught in my throat. Just as I was about to give up on my theory, I had one more idea.
I washed my hands and proceeded to stick my finger down my throat. First attempt, I gagged. Second attempt, I felt a bump on the farthest reach of my tongue, then gagged. As I opened my mouth as wide as I could, flexing and contorting my tongue every which a way, I looked in the mirror to try and figure out what the mystery thingamabob was. After making lots of strange faces in the reflection, trying and failing at getting a glimpse of the foreign protuberance, I continued using my finger as a probing device.
Now before I proceed, I want to warn you, my dear readers: if you are faint of heart, I would advise you to not read any further.
For the rest of you intrigued weirdos; you have been warned…
I stuck my finger back as far as I could reach. At this point, my entire fist was in my mouth with a single digit sticking down the back of my throat. If someone were to enter the restroom at that point, I would have had, as Ricky Ricardo used to say, ‘some splainin’ to do.’
As I withdrew my hand from my mouth, I dragged my fingernail along my tongue. In doing so, I dislodge the source of discomfort.
Curiously, I examined the tip of my finger as there was a dark specimen affixed to the edge of my fingernail. I held it up to get a closer look and became baffled; what on earth is this thing? Was it something I ate?
It looked like the tiniest fur ball in the world, but as I don’t go around licking cats, I knew this was not the case. I made my way to find my boyfriend so I could get a second opinion.
I left the restroom staring at my finger, made my way through the pilot’s lounge contemplating what I had previously consumed earlier in the day and just as I was about to enter the employee only area (it was more of a suggestion in that place), I realized what it was.
I stopped dead in my tracks and squealed. Not the kind of squeal a girl would make if you give her a puppy. No. Mine was more the kind of squeal a girl would make if she found out that she had swallowed a bug that had bitten her throat and had been stuck there for 6 hours!
The specimen that I had dislodged from the back of my tongue was the thorax and abdomen of an ant. The head was no longer attached; it had become a casualty. So what made it look like a tiny hairball you ask? The legs were curled in such a way that it looked like tiny hairs. Don’t think about it too much, I beg of you.
So remember that slightly detailed morning scenario you read about approximately two minutes and fifty two seconds ago? Let’s go back and address a minor component that was left out.
My parents’ house had a minor infestation of ants, but not just any ants; we had large carpenter ants. We had recently sprayed to eradicate the little pests, and slowly, they were beginning to dissipate. Every so often we would still encounter one running across the kitchen counter with a crumb of some foreign food in tow, of which would result in a dishrag being flung around like a fly swatter. Others would have the audacity to scurry across the floor right in the open, but would end up on the bottom of a shoe. How unfortunate.
So when I took that final swig of tea from the glass I had left out over night, I was still groggy from the early morning hour and wasn’t on my game; my defenses were down. In my stupor, I didn’t think to inspect my drink before consumption, resulting in the subjection of an unassuming ant to its ultimate death. But he being a worthy opponent, decided he wasn’t going down [the hatch] without a fight, so he used his little pincers to grab a hold of my tongue mid gulp, saving himself from the fate of my digestive system.
Yes. This happened. Yes. I now inspect my drinks thoroughly before consumption always, and I would advise that you do the same from here on out. It was an unpleasant experience for me and I’m sure, for the ant who suffered a horrific death complete with: being eaten alive, tortured, and eventually decapitated.