In the summer of 1993, when I was ten-years-old, my best friend John, John’s little sister Amy, our friends Mark, his sister Rita, Mark and Rita’s cousin Terry, some other kids that I don’t recall, and I were planning on doing some exploring in the woods.
John had been my best friend for about a year or so. John was about my height and on the husky side. John had a special interest in baseball. His favorite Major League Baseball team was the Atlanta Braves. If he wasn’t playing baseball, then he likely was trading baseball cards. If he wasn’t trading baseball cards, then he was watching television. For a long time, I wished that we would’ve been doing one of those three activities so that we could’ve avoided the upcoming event. You can’t be in two places at once, you know.
Amy was a couple of years younger than I was. She was short, skinny, had freckles on her cheeks, and she had light-brown hair that may have had a little bit of red in it. I had a little bit of a crush on Amy, but I kept it to myself since my aunt Denita was married to Amy’s and John’s dad Donny. I also had another crush, but that’s another story.
There was an opening through the fence by the basketball court down the street from the apartment that I currently reside. My friends and had I walked behind the fence, along the front of the woods, and we were rounding the bend to go deeper into the woods. I was bringing up the rear, and nobody had thought to warn me about the log in the middle of the path ahead where a swarm of honeybees had carved their nest, or I was too busy watching the ground pass beneath my feet as I daydreamed to open my ears. Finally, the log that was covered with honeybees came into my view.
Have you ever had those moments when something bad is about to happen, but you can’t stop it from happening, and everything happens in slow-motion?
My foot was already halfway from Point A – Non-infested, flat ground with dirt, leaves, sticks and maybe a few ants (ironically in the same Order as the honeybees) to Point B – Honeybees’ nest. My foot went down, down…
“Aaahh! Bees!” I screamed as I did a quick U-turn to start haulin’ towards the basketball court.
Those little dudes must’ve engaged afterburners, though, because it didn’t look like they were even going to give me an opportunity to negotiate with the Queen. These bees were as mad as hornets and they were all over me. I kid you not, as I was running and screaming my head off, I actually took the time to glance down at my arm and watch a bee sting me. I was screaming and running towards the basketball court. John and Amy were stung after I stepped on the log, and when the other kids were chasing after us, I’ll be a Hymenopteran’s uncle if they didn’t run into the angry swarm of honeybees, as well. There was an old man who we called “Old Man John” sitting on his porch across the street and smoking his pipe.
Old Man John yelled, “Stop that screamin’!”
We all yelled back, “Bees! Bees!”
When I ran out of the opening and onto the basketball court, I did a dance that resembled Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance” as I quickly took off my red, sleeve-less shirt. I continued to do a bee-line towards my apartment, but when I got about halfway home, my legs turned into linguini. I was walking and crying, “I made it! Thank you, God! I made it!” Nobody stopped me along the way to even ask me what had happened. If they noticed me, they probably assumed that I got whooped by some of the older kids like any other little kid that’s been through this neighborhood.
When I got home, I soaked my body in a tub of ice-cold water while I continued to cry. When I told my dad about my traumatic experience, he just reminded me of the time that he was stung by a nest of hornets when he was a kid. I wasn’t in the mood for war stories.
Later, I went to hang out with Papaw Bill. That Papaw of mine put Anbesol, which is medicine for oral sores, on my bee stings.
Maw Maw, in disgust, said, “Bill…”
Papaw Bill yelled back, “Darn it, Margaret! He said it feels better!”
My friend Mark and some other kids went back to the basketball court and dumped a large pot of scalding-hot water onto my shirt. I’m not complaining, or anything, but I never saw that shirt, again!