John Kujawski

Posted on April 23, 2012

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Anxiety Date

I caused great anxiety and fear when I was a child. I did it to a group of ants. I was on a school camping trip and I was sitting on a log not too far away from where the main camp site was. I was actually following the rules by sitting off my own. It was part of the class assignment but my mind was fixated on one thing. It was the fact that so many ants were running around near my feet and I wanted to perform an experiment. I wondered what would happen if I killed one.

I’m not happy about it now. At the time, murdering an ant seemed like an interesting experiment. I killed one of the ants from the group by hitting it with a rock and I watched as the other ants ran around frantically, as if they were all terrified and were not even sure what to do. I killed another one and the same thing happened, this time resulting in even more of a frenzy. Then I stopped. It may have been no worse than dissecting a frog in science class but I just wasn’t happy with what I did.

I didn’t feel much better about it even a few months after the incident. My parents took me to one of the local arcades and I played several of the silly games they had, winning as many as I could. The only problem was that I didn’t like the prizes. One of my so called rewards was a set of toy ants that were made of rubber. I couldn’t stand to have them around, thinking of my camping experience of course and I eventually just threw the things in the trash.

I stayed away from ants for many years, attempting to get rid of any memories I had of them. I didn’t want to hear about them in songs or in books and of course toys were out of the question. That was until I met a woman at the annual toy show.

The toy show in my part of Missouri was held once a year and it featured toy collectors that had specialties. There were collectors showing off doll houses and toy cars at the various tables. Somehow or another I ended up in the wrong section where the woman who collected stuff pertaining to ants was set up. At first I was looking straight at the ant farm that was displayed in front of me. When I looked up however, I realized I liked the woman right away. She was blonde. She had a sweet face and her name was Emily.

Emily sure loved ants. Not only did she have the damn ant hill but she had books about them and a collection of Ant Man comic books from the 1960’s which I always stayed away from. When she gave me her number at the toy show, I wasn’t going to tell her that I avoided ants for so long. I also didn’t want her to know about the camping trip because in her mind, I would be labeled a killer.

One thing I will say is that after our first couple of dates I wanted to just end my own life. I barely made it through them. I was so nervous during our meals and our conversations that it was unbearable and the only thing I could think about was the fact that I was guilty of destroying the lives of so many ants. The only outing I could really handle was our trip to the guitar store.

I told her I played the guitar and she was interested in that. She wanted me to tell her all about music and various recording artists and all sorts of stuff. She had this idea that I should play her a song but I sure as hell didn’t bring my guitar on the date and so we went to the music store and I played one of the ones on display. She seemed so happy, sitting on the guitar amp while I played her every Adam Ant song that I knew. On the way home, she kept asking me questions about guitars and all the different kinds there were to buy so I figured things were going well. I wish the same could have been said for my sleep.

I had a terrible nightmare when I got home from the date. I dreamt that my apartment was being invaded by ants. They covered the floor and ended up on the walls. I was upset. I was so distraught that I grabbed a rolled up newspaper and started hitting the ants, killing many of them in the process. I was striking them so hard and with so much force that I wore myself out and then I looked out my back window, only to find Emily staring at me through the glass with a cold look of anger.

Emily didn’t sound angry when she called the next day. She sounded happy. She wanted me to come over to her apartment that night and she said I should bring my guitar and perhaps some music magazines that we could at. She said she couldn’t wait to learn more.

It didn’t take me long to get to her apartment that night because I knew the area so well that I probably could have gotten there with my eyes closed. The truth was, when I saw her apartment, I almost wished I was blind. There was ant stuff everywhere, from posters on the walls, to toys in the corner of the room and she even had bed sheets that looked like they had ants drawn on them.

I saw plenty of art related stuff. It wasn’t just ant pictures that she had. She had some nice artwork and lots of comic books. I didn’t see much music stuff in the place until she went into the bathroom for a minute. I guess I shouldn’t have done it but I looked inside her closet and sure enough, there was a collection of old records in there.

It seemed like there were actually quite a few of them that she had sitting on her dresser. At first I was excited and wanted to look at them but I guess she only kept them for the album covers alone. Every damn record I tried to take out and look at had been broken.

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John Kujawski has interests that range from guitars to the Incredible Hulk. He was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and still lives there to this day. Some of his other work can be found at The Fringe Magazine and Apocrypha and Abstractions.

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