The Final Battle

An Essay By Timothy // 2/25/2006

I have a long history with stinging insects. There was the time when I was only three or four and I threw a rock at a wasp nest. My brother, whose idea it was, was safely hidden before I threw, of course. Then there was the time I intercepted a bee with a swing in mid-flight. And there was also the time I ran into a nest while skirting a creek and ended up with three stings and my hat floating downstream. But nothing compares to the shining moment of my “career.”

For some reason, one summer here in Tennessee, about three years ago, we had multiple wasp nests tunneled into the ground around our yard. It hasn’t happened again since then, but we definitely had an abundance of stinging insects that year, and with them, my brothers and I had a wonderful venue through which to amuse ourselves.

It wasn’t long before we noticed that there was almost always a large number of wasps gathered around the entry hole of the nest. This presented an irresistible opportunity to create mass destruction and mayhem. And thus began our war.

The first tactic was simple. We would grab a shovel, run in, slam it over the nest in the hopes of flattening a few wasps, and then run for our lives. Everything went perfectly. Well, almost. We rushed in, pummeled the nest, and ran out. I made sure I was a reasonable distance away before I stopped running. My brother didn’t. He stopped about five feet away and suddenly found himself staring down an ominous dark cloud of angry insects. He ran . . . and yelped as he realized rather painfully that he was too late.

But the best was yet to come. We tried more shovels, fireworks, and smoke bombs without any satisfactory effect, but, fortunately, with no more stings. Finally we decided to go all out. Another brother and I came up with one of our most brilliant ideas ever. We bundled ourselves up in winter gear, covered every speck of bare skin, and prepared to ride our riding lawn mower straight into the fray. Being the middle of summer, it was rather hot, but we didn’t mind. My oldest brother, the aforementioned victim, opted out of our daring scheme. Undaunted, my other brother and I started up the mower and boldly advanced towards the enemy.

Upon arriving at the front lines (the nest), we leaped off the mower and commenced the attack. Well, I did, at least. My brother’s good sense had gotten the better of him and he backed off after a quick assault with the shovel. I was left to face the foe alone. Unafraid, I stepped virtually on top of the nest. Angry wasps swarmed around me and planted themselves on my coat, stinging furiously, but to no effect. I was practically covered with wasps, but I didn’t feel a thing. And then it happened.

A stray wasp found its way into the small space between my goggles and the hood on my coat. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, but I made it matter. Suddenly panicking, I swatted at the wasp with my gloved hand. The wasp flew away. And so did my goggles. Brilliant. Sensing the presence of unexposed, tender, skin, a swarm of wasps descended on my face. I was already running, but all I did was carry the wasps with me. And they stung. They stung a lot. My face was wreathed in pain as I ran. Finally, I knocked off the wasps on my face, and the remaining ones flew back to the nest, victorious.

My reaction was rather matter-of-fact. The pain wasn’t a new thing for me. Like I said, I have a history. However, the number of stings was definitely new. My brother counted six welts on my face, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had been stung a lot more than that. It’s left a lasting impression on me. I’m always nervous in the presence of wasps now. It’s payed off, though. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a brush with wasps or bees since then. I’m satisfied that my “career” has ended with quite a bang.


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