The interviewer’s comments are denoted through initials JK, while the interviewee’s responses are denoted through initials MB.
MB: This one scared me, oh my gosh. Part of what scared me is what my grandmother said after. You can add that to the folklore I guess. So Ann, it was so funny, said “I don’t know if I want to tell you his story because it’s so scary, it’s been bothering me”. And I said “Cmon cmon just tell me.” This is when we were kids keep in mind. And she says “Ok fine. It’s this story about girlfriend and boyfriend and the girlfriend goes to the beach and she falls asleep there. And when she woke up there were ants all over her face, all over her face. Like red ants, stingy red ants all over her face. So her face ballooned up, she got them all off. And her face ballooned up, I mean have you ever been stung by a red ant?
JK: Yea I think I have.
MB: They can sting you and she got stung all over the place. So she goes to the hospital and they bandage up her face.
JK: Did this take place anywhere specifically?
MB: My sister told me Galveston, Texas, right on the water. So they bandage up her face and they’re like, “Whatever you do, DON’T itch. DO NOT ITCH YOUR FACE.” But when you’re healing like that, oh my gosh, it’s just indescribable, just irresistible to itch. I mean it’s just like ahhh, all you can do. But they had her face bandaged up, they even tied her hands, they’re like “DON’T ITCH YOU FACE.” They tied her hands. And um, but she had a boyfriend and she begged her boyfriend, going nuts, just going nuts that she’s not able to get at her skin and it itched so badly, because it was healing we think right? But she convinces her boyfriend to undo her bandages and undo her hands and she started itching her face….. and ants…. crawled out. And they had made all these tunnels and everything in her face….. like an ant farm. Isn’t that awful!?!?”
JK: Wow yea, that is nasty.
MB: Ohhh yea, it always bothered me. So Ann told me cause she was so disturbed by it and then once she told me she felt better about it, and I was so disturbed by it then– I was like carrying it. So I told my grandmother– Granny, who i called Granny– and um, the funny thing, what does my Granny say but, “Well, I suppose that could happen.” Haha. Which totally freaked me out. There were so many red ants in Arkansas and you would get stung and it would itch, it would really itch a lot. It hurt. And the recovery itched. But the itching she was feeling was the ants crawling around in her skin. My imagination would think there are all these channels and tunnels in her skin.”
This story comes from my mother’s childhood friend, Mary. She was originally told it by her older sister. It was crazy to hear her tell the story in person and watch her face contort when she talks about the ants crawling out of the girl’s face. It’s been almost 50 years since she first heard this, and it still fully geeks her out. This story has the one aspect found in any great horror story: it is believable. What’s more, Mary could relate to it because she grew up around red ants. The cherry on top is her grandmother telling her, “Well, I suppose that could happen.”– Just the worst thing to tell a scared little kid who is looking for some kind of comfort/adult wisdom.