The Circus Tent on My House
When our front door disintegrated upon a neighbor's slight knock, it was evident we had a termite problem.
"California termites are bad," a friend reported. (This fellow provides impeccably accurate data as long as you never check him out). "Some of those critters have mutated and are consuming metal," he added. (You needn't check that one out, but things were bad enough).
Critics indict those on "the Right" as being mean-spirited and unfeeling. Single-handedly, I shatter that myth by maintaining a positive, almost childlike view of the world, which, often, approaches innocence.
For example, when I would see a house completely covered by a tent, I assumed that there was a happy American family putting on their own circus. Now I know better.
The Yellow Pages turned up dozens of pest-control firms, but, none with as catchy a name as "Yougottem-Wekillem."
Their senior technician arrived in minutes and emerged from our basement, his wooden clip-board half consumed, proclaiming, "Dude, you have one terrific case of termites."
I might have been more confident in him had he not been wearing his flash-lit coal-miner's hat backwards.
Next stop was the Internet. Surely, it would provide truth and guidance. I employed every search engine for "termites" and they all dead-ended with "fumigation." I didn't learn much, but my file of recipes now includes four gourmet-quality lethal gases.
For termites, Vicane (sulfuryl fluroide) manufactured by Dow Elanco is the poison gas of choice.
Dow's warnings on Vicane are scarey. "Exposure to high concentration causes excessive fluid in the lungs, pneumonia, and convulsions." The EPA adds additional danger signals when reentering after the fumigation. "Reduced awareness, slowed movement, garbled speech, or difficulty in breathing." (These warnings are very similar to those on the label of my antihistimine.)
A final caution: if you are rendered unconscious, wear a nametag so they'll know who you were. (I made this one up).
It was time for action as the eating machine army of bugs had already sent advance scouting parties to taste my antique Brunswick billiard table. An emergency appointment at Yougottem-Wekillem's pest control center was scheduled and we should have been suspicious when we were advised to wear old clothes.
As we arrived, the police Swat Team prevented the pickets surrounding the facility from harassing us, but the crude picket signs were ugly and conveyed their message: "Extermination equals murder." "Today termites, tomorrow ??"
Still shaken by the protestors from PETI (People for the Ethical Treatment of Insects), I said to the director, "I've read all the literature. Let's go ahead with my tent and the fumigation."
"Not so fast", he cautioned', "Before we can ‘tent' you, there is a five-day waiting period and you have to face the state-mandated panel waiting in the next room. All of the arguments pro and con the extermination of termites will be presented and only then can you make the decision to forge ahead or not. You can be represented by counsel if you wish."
"This is ridiculous," I sputtered. "Let's move this along. They're eating my pool table!"
As we entered the windowless hearing room, the director donned a powdered wig, and actress Susan Sarandon rose to present the case for the termites.
"What is she doing here?" I stammered in disbelief.
"You're lucky. Last week they sent Barbra Streisand."
Sarandon made the same tired argument about all species having equal claim to the planet, but I stopped her in her tracks when I said, "What about the fact that your shoes are made of leather?"
Everybody's eyes focused on her feet. How could I have known that her feet were bare?
The fellow from the "Altered Genes Will Save The Planet Committee" was next, and his presentation was science at its best. Some were troubled by the notion of sterilizing one termite at a time, but he did get a standing ovation.
Last was a representative from Dow who was a bit difficult to understand because of his gas mask. His message was clear.
"If we follow the advice of those two crazies, what would Dow do with all this poison gas we have inventoried?"
A silent shudder passed through the room.
My concerns were more immediate than his and I quickly voted thumbs up.
Next week the circus tent will cover my house, and the fumigation will proceed.
By the way, can anybody out there take care of my two cats?
February 27, 2001
© 2001 LewRockwell.com