“Hey,” my friend says. “Have you heard about this thing where people get locked in a room with a colony of fire ants? It’s all the rage.”
“Yeah, I saw an ad for it like twice a day for the past 6 months. It looks stupid. Why the fuck would I want to do that?” I ask. This has got to be a joke, right?
My friend shrugs. “I dunno. It could be fun.”
“Absolutely nothing about this sounds fun.”
“This guy I know did it the other day and he said it wasn’t that bad,” my friend says, lighting an unfiltered cigarette and taking a deep drag.
“Not that bad is NOT the same as good, you know. I mean, are the ants angry? Do they bite you? Is there a prize for completing it, like Fear Factor or something?”
“Nah. It’s just… mindless entertainment. Something to do for a couple hours.”
“A couple hours?!” I still see no signs of this being a joke. This person normally seems sane. “Don’t tell me you’re seriously thinking about doing it.”
I can hear the tinge of annoyance creeping into their voice as they reply sharply, “Yeah, I got my tickets last week and I’m going tonight.”
“You have clearly gone batshit insane.” At this point that I’m not sure why I’m even still in this conversation. “People everywhere are saying this is the worst thing ever but you’re taking the word of a person who says ‘It’s not that bad’. You’ve seriously got nothing better to do? And enough disposable income to waste–what– $15 on this?”
“Yes, why are you judging me?” my friend snaps, finally offended that I’ve challenged their life choice. “Thousands have people have already done it and will do it again today. If it was so terrible, why would so many people be lining up for this? If you don’t want to do it, no one is forcing you. You shouldn’t judge something until you’ve tried it for yourself. You might not even get stung. I can tell you one thing, you’ll be the ONLY one who doesn’t experience this, and you’re going to feel left out.”
Before I even get a chance to say that I don’t need to experience the thrill of being bitten by fire ants to know that I won’t like it, and that maybe they could spend that $15 to buy me a couple drinks instead, my friend storms off, presumably to the drugstore for a giant bottle of aloe to soothe the burns they’ll be tending later.
Author’s Note: I know it’s a bit of a stretch to compare the new “Batman vs. Superman” movie to toxic insect venom but seeing only clips of Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in the trailer made my skin crawl ALMOST as much as a Google image search of fire ants, so I decided to go with it.