Something you might not know about me: I’m terrified of bees and all their stinging brethren. Even the word makes my heart beat a little faster (and not in a good way). It’s a bit of a phobia, and it is one of the few things that diminishes my love of the warm-weather months.
Today, my organization hosted a co-departmental picnic at a local state park, two hours of snacking and socializing. It was lovely to spend a few hours outdoors during the work day noshing on yummy vegan snacks, and there was only one small problem: bees. Stupid, stupid, late-summer, early-autumn bees. Yellow jackets, to be precise, buzzing around our food and around us. Thankfully, they ignored me for most of the afternoon, and I managed to keep my terror in check.
Then, as the event drew to a close, I made a fatal error. I agreed to take our group’s trash and recycling from the park, since I live pretty close and could just throw it all in the bins when I reached my apartment complex. As I carried the small box out, a yellow jacket started buzzing around it. I yelped and put the box down until the beast flew away. I thought I was safe.
I was wrong.
Ten minutes later, as I was stopped at a red light on my way home, I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw it: the mother-effing bee was IN THE CAR. It had clearly stowed away in the bag of trash and was now emerging to ruin my day.
“OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD,” I said aloud. I started talking to myself, trying to prevent the onset of panic that my phobia induces. The seconds stretched on for near-eternities as I anxiously waited for the red light to change, planning my escape. The bee had disappeared from my rear-view mirror. I wondered what I would do if it suddenly appeared, buzzing and sinister, in the front seat with me. I imagined an involuntary release of the brake and a sudden lurch into the intersection, where I’d quickly be rammed by an oncoming car. Clearly I was about to die, just because I have an overblown and irrational fear of a small winged insect.
The light changed. I pushed the pedal and zoomed forward, switching lanes quickly so I could pull into a gas station on the right side of the road. I parked, hopped out of my car, and dialed our home phone with shaking hands. I requested S’s presence and assistance, not because he’s a dude and I’m a lady or anything dumb like that, but simply because he does not share my overwhelming bee-fear and is better equipped to handle situations like these.
As I waited for S, I called my sister to commiserate, knowing that she’s one of the few people who could fully appreciate the situation—she, too, has a severe case of apiphobia. As we talked, I saw the yellow jacket crawling on the rear window of my car. I should’ve opened the hatchback and let it out right then, but I was terrified it would fly out and into my face. Instead I watched it, repulsed and nauseated.
By the time S arrived, the little bastard had disappeared again. And… we never found it. We methodically opened all the doors one by one, so I could monitor them and verify that the bee flew out. But we never saw it leave. S took the bags of trash and recycling out and emptied them on the grass (don’t worry, he didn’t leave them there!), searching for the bee in the empty soda cans and plastic cups. It wasn’t there.
Finally, we gave up. Horrified at the possibility that it was lurking in some crevice of my car, waiting to buzz out at me, I drove S’s car home while he took mine. The bee never made another appearance.
So now, hours later, I am still anxious about the incident. I’m disquieted by the bee’s absence and convinced it’s still hiding in my car. I might have to drive S’s car for a few days, just in case.
In the meantime, though, I need to thank S for his unfailing and non-judgmental support. Probably by making him a dessert of some sort. Whaddya think? And do you have any phobias?
(P.S. Sorry for the post-MoFo silence. I’m still recovering!)