John, our landlord, who also happens to be a marine biologist, folk guitarist, landscaper, sailor, father, husband and grandfather of two, invited us over to his house, just 20 steps away from our "Christmas" cabana (The Christmas cabana earned its name when Marcia, John's wife who grew increasingly nostalgic for the holidays, painted the entire ceiling of the 50 square foot cottage to resemble the underside of a decorated Christmas tree. Attempting to nap under the dizzying ceiling each day feels a bit like the Christmas gods are punishing me for my lack of spirit year after year.) to grill some frozen salmon. This frozen salmon was the closest thing we have had to fresh fish since we arrived, so I was eager to take him up on the offer and contribute to the meal by preparing smashed yams and a mango, avocado and lime salad using greens grown by the only gardener on the island, a sassy filipino woman named Josephine who is evidently talented when it comes to building up the stubborn island soil. Halfway into preparing the meal, a couple of brown winged insects decided to join the party. I only vaguely remember John saying something about these particular insects being termites and that they were a pain in the ass and that there would probably be more of them coming to drop their wings and burrow into the house. Thinking nothing of the bugs landing on my back, neck and bosom, I continued to cook and kept the obligatory "getting to know you" conversation rolling, which soon after was cut short when another few hundred termites entered the scene.
All surfaces of the house's interior were covered with the bugs. "It's like The Birds" John yelled as he swatted ten from his arm. All cooking ceased and we declared war on the swarm, each of us armed with a weapon of our choice. John, switching on his shop vac, sucked up gobs of the bugs at once as well as the plastic bag that covered the salad. Michael, using an electrocution device in the shape of a smallish tennis racket, batted at the air until wings sparked. I pranced around the house like Julia Child on Kung Fu while bashing them with a dish towel.
John sulked a bit. "These damn termites ruined dinner with my new friends."
"No way." I assured him. "That was, hands down, the most fun I've had while cooking... ever!"
If anyone ever wanted to enliven dinner with nearly strangers, staging a massacre of pesky termites is certainly the way to go.