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The face of my enemy.
It started out pleasantly enough.
In fact, it was a gorgeous, if overly hot afternoon. My friends and I decided to wander along the creek in Bidwell Park. As is often the case along the creek, we stumbled upon a watering hole that was deep enough for a friend’s dog to swim in, so we stopped and got in, too. We sat on half-submerged logs, in dappled shade, dangling our feet in the deliciously cool water while we chatted, laughed and threw sticks for the dog to swim to and fetch (eat your heart out, Huckleberry Finn).
Finally, we decided to get out as we wanted to have time to eat homemade ice cream before going to a magic show (seriously, that was our day).
And then, M shrieked.
She had been sitting on the banks, letting her feet dry, when a yellow jacket wasp bumbled against her and then stung her. I froze in abject terror.
Stories of people being stung by bees/wasps horrified me as a kid. It just sounded terrible. It’s like getting a shot for no reason. I hate shots. One time when I was 3 or 4 and at the hospital getting a checkup, I saw my nurse down the hall, coming back with a needle. I jumped up and and ran out the door. I dodged various white-coated adults trying to catch me, slid on the floor between legs, turned tight corners at high speed. No one could catch me (it was all very impressive if I do say so myself.) Finally, I saw my mother. Sanctuary! I jumped into her open arms, and then once securely in her arms, she held out my arm for the shot. Ah, the cruelty of betrayal.
But anyhoo– as you can imagine, I hate the thought of getting stung. As a result, any time I hear buzzing or see a yellow/black insect, I RUN. No, really. I have taken off down the street with no warning, leaving many a confused person behind. Though a few were disgruntled, my actions had saved me and I could say, with no small amount of pride, that I had never been stung.
Until that day.
After M got stung, I hurriedly put on my shoes and socks so I could begin the running. I clambered up the bank and was on the trail when I heard it. The buzzing. It was so close, by my ear. It sounded like it was ensnared in my hair (which, considering the humidity, was a real possibility). I gathered my energy for the sprint, but I was not quick enough. It stung me.
Auggh! I’d been hit! AND THE PAIN. It was worse than any shot. I felt a spreading burning sensation in my shoulder. Shrieks and wails at high volume emitted from me (and maybe an expletive or two). My friends hurriedly came over and informed me that the yellow jacket had left its stinger in me and they scraped it out. I felt like throwing up.
Would I be allergic? I checked to see if I was breathing normally. Aside from having used a lot of air for screaming, I seemed to be fine.
But I was in shock. How could this happen to me? I had lived more than 30 years without experiencing being stung and had just assumed that I would live 30 more years the same way. It sounds crazy, but I really didn’t think it was ever going to happen.
What really shocked me was realizing that I had thought this way; I had been subconsciously clinging to this foolish belief in bee-sting invulnerability (although yes, I know it was technically a wasp.) Seeing my own stupidity was a sharp slap in the face.
I felt betrayed. (Funny how my betrayals seem to come at the end of a sharp point.) But this time it was by my self. I wonder how many other things I’m subconsciously holding onto that have no basis in reality, or how many erroneous conclusions I’ve drawn (or am still drawing) based on faulty reasoning. A pattern is not proof. Just because things have been that way in the past, doesn’t mean they always will be. Things change. People change. There is no knowing the future.
But at least you can look forward to it.
After this escapade, mine held homemade ice cream, so yay! Happy ending after all! 😉
Photo by Brooke
(Where I got stung. It doesn’t look like much but that’s because the photo was taken a few hours later. And it was still sore.)
Jammie Karlman is the entertainment editor for the Chico Enterprise-Record. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JammieKarlman