4 Reasons A Termite Infestation Is Absolutely Terrifying
I used to think that termites were just ants that ate wood. Spray some Raid here and there -- done. Move on with your life. But, recently, I discovered the hard way that termites are essentially an invading force of malevolent aliens not looking to make intergalactic friends. They're less E.T. and more Independence Day, with occasional flashes of Alien, and a lot of Starship Troopers. It's mostly Starship Troopers, actually.
Including future indoor football, where people regularly perform 8-foot-high twisting front flips.
The problem is so similar to the way movies depict alien invasions that Steven Spielberg has bought the film rights to my infested door and the movie is coming out in the summer of 2017. It's going to be called Bug Door. It's gonna be a spectacle. So, Stevey (we're on a nickname basis), consider today's column about how battling door-eating bugs is like humanity's fight for survival against an alien menace kind of a first draft for the script. You're welcome.
Before the Xenomorph is ever shown in Alien, the audience is introduced to tiny traces of what appears to be something larger going on. Tiny, subtle clues like the space jockey, and then the eggs, and then John Hurt's exploding stomach.
Like the Xenomorphs, the termites left behind just enough evidence to let me know something wasn't quite right, but it was never enough to set me to action, which is weird because the evidence was poop. They shit everywhere, and their shit piles up into little mounds that usually look like coffee grounds or pepper. I've never had the pleasure of really getting my face near their shit piles to examine their turd pellets closely, but apparently termite poop is six-sided. Every time they take a dump, termites drop weird D&D dice from their assholes like they're rolling for damage against my front door.
Finding piles of shit lying around is a good indicator that something has gone awry in pretty much any scenario. If you found a mound of shit in your cubicle at work, you'd ask HR if it meant anything about your employment status, for example. But, as with the start of any movie about aliens (and any kind of movie monster in general), the first sign of trouble is usually ignored; it's rationalized away as nothing. Probably because acknowledging there is a problem at all means having to deal with it and spend money on it. I'd rather my apartment fill to the ceiling with hexagonal turds than have to do things. My life is a spectacular quest to avoid hassle.
"WHAT? A PROBLEM? NO. I DON'T SEE ONE ANYWHERE."
So of course I'm correct in assuming these little mounds are in no way indicative of a much larger and much more disgusting problem that will soon take over my life. It's fine. It's all going to be fine.
Inevitably, our film's heroes have to come face-to-face with the alien villains. In Starship Troopers, it was during the battle of Klendathu, when Johnny Rico and the rest of the "Why are these white people all cast as Hispanic characters?" players get ripped to shreds by giant bugs, for example.
After returning from a late-night dog walk, I stepped into the kitchen to turn off the light above the stove, which was the lone light shining in the pitch black kitchen/living room area. Now look at this picture:
That's Bruce Wayne sitting within the glow of a street lamp that slices though the darkness to illuminate not only his dead parents but also his pain. Now, imagine that, but I'm Bruce and I'm surrounded by about a dozen little termite corpses twitching around on the stove top, wings and legs everywhere. In the 10 minutes I was out, there was an invasion, and then a massacre. The invaders saw I had left and had taken my beast with me. "NOW WE STRIKE!" said their disgusting termite lord.
They had probably been planning this invasion for weeks, studying schematics and maps, learning the details of the apartment and its occupants' schedules. Termite troops said their tearful goodbyes to their wives and children and then hopped on steam trains and waved through the window as they pulled further away until their loved ones were motes left only to be remembered. They had taken every precaution, done all of their research, and had taken everything into account, except for that thing about how they're very stupid and can be easily thrown off their game plan by a shiny light. It was an exposed light bulb; they fried and were now dying where I make eggs and shit.
Like this, but disgusting.
Their presence activated my apartment's defenses. I was safe, but only for now. There was an enemy out there, and they had made their presence known ... as well as their intent: They wanted my home.
And, by god, they weren't going to get it.
In the movies, an introductory barrage of violence and mayhem kicks off humanity's fight against the aliens. After those giant aliens in Independence Day that look like a walking Queen Amidala hairstyle blew our major landmarks to shit, it was on. War had begun. And then it ended about 12 hours later.
Unseen in the final cut was those alien bastards obliterating the world's largest ball of twine.
Like Will Smith's character, John "Independent" Day, I too had to take up arms and fight. But the termites weren't going to go down easily. See, what they did during our first encounter was called "swarming." It's when they mount a relentless, vicious attack on whatever they want to poop hexagons into next. And they don't stop doing it. They swarm after it rains, and they love coming out at night (they hate sunlight yet fly toward light bulbs like it's their disgusting mom's nourishing titty). This leads me to believe that they hate post-rain humidity and all they really want is my central air and Flintstones Push Ups.
It's here that I should quickly mention exactly what we were up against in this fight. I've mentioned the swarming, but what happens from there? Well, I've been comparing termites to aliens, but it turns out termites are basically World War II paratroopers as well. They fly in and shed their wings the way a paratrooper sheds their parachute if they're lucky to have landed alive, and then they charge headlong into battle. It's disgusting, and they should feel ashamed of themselves.
That was our primary enemy. My girlfriend and I needed weapons better than rolled-up issues of Entertainment Weekly to deal with this menace. So we got ourselves some termite-killing spray. This is our water to their Signs aliens. I've never fired a gun in my life, let alone killed someone with one, but I now fully get why psychos in movies who are mowing down dozens of people/aliens with big-ass machine guns say dumb self-hyping shit like, "Yeah, come get some!" and, "I ain't scared of you! You should be scared of me!" It mostly stems from fear -- fear of losing control and feeling overwhelmed by the unevenness of the fight, yet inviting the challenge.
There's also a tinge of power in it, knowing I'm holding a thing that is designed for the sole purpose of killing. I know this firsthand, because as we sprayed and swatted at termites night after night, we would unironically say, "Yeah, come get some!" and, "I ain't scared of you! You should be scared of me!" along with many stupid cliches off the "I'm So Jacked To Be Killing" greatest hits album.
If I'm being honest with myself, all that hyping and termite slaughter is probably mostly recoiling in horror and screaming when one touches me. But in my head, it was totally this:
This went on for days, until we finally drenched their home (our door, attached to our home) in enough of the chemical agent for it to officially qualify as a war crime. They stopped swarming. Every night was calm. Our home was ours once again.
It was over.
There's always some asshole in an alien movie who's fascinated by the invading force of murderous space things. In Independence Day, it's Long-Haired Data, who gets meat-puppeted by the alien. In Starship Troopers, it's Neil Patrick Harris. In the 2017 Steven Spielberg film Bug Door: The Horrific Tale Of Luis' Door Of Bugs, it will be me.
In case you've never noticed, that's Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I've actually grown to admire the termites, in a way. I've done some research and discovered that each of those disgusting winged bastards is carrying eggs, and they're looking for a place to settle down and make a new colony, of which they will be the queen. Think about that: They leave the colony and venture into the world so they can become the leader of their own colony. That's impressive. Their mission isn't to advance the colony's cause; it's to go off and make something of their own, to find their own place in the world and make something equally disgusting as the original colony and just as worthy of being burned to the ground by the likes of me. That's admirable. I wish they'd do that while screaming for mercy in hell, but still -- admirable.
I'm sure there's plenty of wood. How else do they keep those fires burning?
While the worst of it is over for me, I still occasionally have 'Nam-like flashbacks. Just a few days ago, I stopped at a nearby restaurant I'd been to dozens of times before. It was a little different now. It was under new ownership: The termites had invaded, and they were in the midst of a swarm. They were everywhere. Shed wings spun to the floor from the ceiling. Termites gathered around every light, especially the heat lamps over the food. The ones that had shed their wings were gathered off in a corner, walking in different directions in search of a plot of the restaurant frontier to call their own. All the horror came rushing back. The adrenaline of defending my land came back.
I never got a grand vista of a downed alien ship framed by fireworks. Just a door that I hope doesn't have any bugs in it. So, sorry Stevey, I couldn't come up with a more badass ending for Bug Door. But here's a small suggestion for what happens when my character rips open the door to find a bunch of bugs in it:
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.