As a freelance designer for the S.S. Adams Prank and Magic Company, I’ve found myself facing a unique set of challenges. I’ve had to determine the best way to visualize the sound of fake flatulence, and discover the ideal lighting conditions for photographing rubber dog poo. One summer I was appointed to create an all-new catalog that would feature the company’s entire line of fun-makers. To my delight this job required me to receive one of every item on the product list (well, except for the two-headed nickel, which was easily Photoshop-able.) My workspace became an armory of deception, overflowing with plastic illusions and forgeries of everyday objects.
On a sunny afternoon as I was approaching my computer for another round of work I noticed a black cord on the floor that ran between my desk drawer and the nearby patio door. Suspiciously, I drew closer and saw that it was moving. The line consisted of two rows of worker ants, one entering and one returning outside. I cringed as I imagined what they had found. A salsa spill? A forgotten stash of unwanted licorice jellybeans? A corpse? I slid open the large wooden drawer that had been shaped to hold a deep collection of paperfiles, but at the time it was over capacity with practical jokes.
As I began removing the contents, memories were triggered of two other mishaps that had occurred in the very same place. One time a vintage tube of ammo for a toy carbide cannon had burst into a smelly mess, and on another occasion a disappearing ink container met the same fate. The latter was the easiest to clean up.
My anxiety mounted as I dug out Peanut Brittle cans full of snakes, and the newest Adams product, soap covered in faux body hair. I reached the bottom of the drawer but the lure of the ants remained a mystery. The last item left was a dribble glass stuffed with smaller gags. Some of the braver insects were still crawling up the side. Among the contents of the cup I discovered a lively sphere of little brown ants. At their epicenter was an unwrapped piece of Blue Mouth Candy, which is a hard, ball-shaped confectionery that contains an extra dose of food coloring.
With a look of disgust I took vengeance on the candy thieves, but I soon paused mid-massacre and started to laugh. It occurred to me that somewhere across my lawn an army of ants was returning to their colony, each bearing a large, indigo hunk of candy. I envisioned the leader ant making his grand entrance, and though his mouth is almost too full to speak, he proudly proclaims, “Great news! We have located a really nice supply of food; you all should go and grab some!” But as he makes his announcement to the masses he is completely unaware that his mandibles are smeared with a ridiculous blue coating.
Thus, his message is met with uproarious ant laughter from thousands of his coworkers. Then hundreds more blue-faced ants start to file in as the hysterical laughter intensifies. The mirth probably carried on until word of the subsequent tragedy reached the anthill.
Meanwhile, back across the yard, I accepted my historic new role as the first human to successfully prank the insect kingdom.