Stream of consciousness can be fun. You just start thinking about one thing and that leads to something else and that leads you to write a bizarre novel that gets you labeled a literary giant.
That won’t happen here – at least not today. But I did just spend about 20 minutes drifting from my patio to something I read last night to an incident from my youth that led to my irrational fear of bees, hornets, wasps – really, anything with a stinger that flies, floats or crawls.
The stream started when a bumblebee landed on the petunias in front of me. After a couple seconds, this dastardly minion of Satan rose up and trapped itself under our umbrella. It bounced around under there looking for a way out.
I wasn’t buying it. I knew better. It was just trying to fool me into thinking it was an idiot. Nothing to fear here, sir, I’m just a bumbling bumblebee who trapped itself in an umbrella. Go back to your computer and forget about me.
My wife also tried convincing me it was harmless. Mind you, this is the woman who once almost killed me in a rollover car accident and later tried giving me salmonella. Only that time she got the plates mixed up and ended up with her own case of food poisoning.
So I’m not sure I can trust her when she says something is harmless. She could be in cahoots with the bees. I wouldn’t be surprised.
So anyway, this bee finally figures out how to escape from under the umbrella and flies away, no doubt waiting to return once I’ve relaxed and stopped paying attention. That’s when the attack will come, I’m sure of it.
Just last night I was thinking about bees. Actually, I was reading about them in a short story by Joe Meno called “Frances the Ghost.” In one scene, Frances, a young girl, is convinced by an older friend they should go into the woods and throw rocks at a beehive.
When the bees attack, Frances can’t turn away fast enough and they descend on her. What happens next is … well, I won’t tell you what happens. Just read the story. Meno is a fantastic writer.
This is where my mind wandered back to my youth. I must have been about eight or nine. I did lots of stupid stuff in those years, so I tend to think that anything I did that was really stupid happened during that time frame.
We were at my cousin’s house for a birthday party or some other summer gathering. As boys will do, we became bored and went looking for fun. That usually translates into trouble.
Someone spotted a hornet’s nest in a tree beside the gravel road we were on. Let’s see … hornets … young boys who were bored … lots and lots of rocks. I'm sure we all see where this is headed.
I don’t remember who threw the first one, but I do remember I tossed at least one. And, like Frances, I turned to run too late. I slipped on the gravel and hit the ground. I got stung multiple times as I lay there in the road trying to cover up while my cousins ran off safely.
I am now convinced this story has been passed down to generations of bees. I am convinced anything with a stinger knows I once threw a rock at a hornet’s nest. And I am convinced they are all just waiting for their chance to get me again.