If we live long enough, we come to realize we are at the mercy of an indifferent universe and can be dispatched to the netherworld at any time. Although I am afraid of what lies ahead in the land of the unliving and so am reluctant to take risks when braving the elements, I also feel a deep reverence for the natural world, of which I am aware I am less than a speck of a part.
I am somewhat ashamed that the love I feel for Mother Nature does not extend to the world of insects, though even when I am alarmed or threatened by a flying or a crawling creature who has found its way into my house, I will go out of my way to capture it in a jar and to put it outside in the hope that this act of mercy will somehow nullify my cowardice — at least in the eyes of God.
I had been especially afraid of getting stung by a bee or by a yellow jacket, wasp, and other brethren, but somehow I had managed to avoid it. Still, if you go your whole life with nary a sting, chances are your number will one day be called. Yesterday my number was indeed called by a certain hornet that had found its way into (or that was trying to climb its way out of) my ankle boot. And let me just say that the only things more painful than getting stung by a hornet are having your baby delivered with a forceps and having your doctor give you an episiotomy without first administering a local anesthetic.
I was sitting in a chair, and I had one leg crossed over the other. Suddenly I felt a searing pain and at first thought it was a result of the way I was sitting. I then changed my position, but the pain only spread and intensified. My next thought was that my ankle bone was somehow shattering or that a tendon was somehow tearing because I had no other frame of reference for what could be causing such pain.
Suddenly I saw the thing crawling out over the top of my boot, and I screamed. Fortunately, I was with friends who seemed to know a good deal about these little assholes, and in no time the hornet had been identified as such and had been whacked to death with someone’s shoe. Soon, homeopathic spray appeared, followed by cooling gel and a paste of water and baking soda. Really I was in shock, though, and was outraged that I had been violated in this way. All day and into the night the pain did not diminish for one moment, and I wanted to stop everyone I saw so I could tell them I had been stung by a hornet. You would have thought nothing worse had ever happened to me — or to anyone else for that matter.