Let me be clear: This is a tale of survival, and it is not for the faint of heart.
Last Monday, I took myself out for the evening. “Evening” here is a relative term since my husband doesn’t get home from work until 7:15 and the local mall closes at 9 (which the shop owners tend to interpret as 8:45). However, I had a little birthday money to spend, and an hour all my own to try on clothes without small offspring pointing out my anatomy at top volume, suddenly remembering they need to go potty, or throwing open the dressing room door when I am the least… uh, prepared… sounded so relaxing it felt illegal.
I had the house clean and the girls fed when Dan arrived, but I still felt a little rebellious sashaying out the door alone. (Hey, I was far too cowed to rebel in my teens like a normal human, so I tend to get my taste of insurrection from anomalies in my routine… and let me say, it is delicious.) I rolled the windows down, cranked up the music, and sped off into a glamorous sunset.
One minute away from the mall, I was startled when a small rock sailed through the passenger window and landed with a thud in my lap. There were no cars around, and I was mildly curious what would cause a rock to take such a horizontal trajectory. I slowed down just enough to glance at it… and my spine immediately began clawing at the base of my skull for an exit. The object in my lap was not a rock. It was a bee. An enormous bee. A spiky, hairy, hell-hued beast of a bee.
Allow me to provide visual clarification:
Let’s back up a couple of decades. I liked bugs as much as the next grubby-fingered kid. I remember farming roly-polies in our gravel driveway, coaxing butterflies to land on my nose, and poking beetles simply because… well, antagonizing beetles is one of childhood’s great joys. But then came the fateful morning that a cricket got tangled in my hair. I couldn’t see it. I could only feel it, it’s spindly legs, its bony wings, all the little scrambling bits of sharpness and slime getting increasingly enmeshed in my hair. That morning, a phobia was born, fully-grown.
My little brothers took full advantage of the shift in my psychosis. They chased me with grasshoppers and spiders until I was in hysterics (another of childhood’s great joys), and even though I realized my fear had nothing to do with logic, I couldn’t stop it from pulling me in head-first. At least my reaction these days is a little more refined. When I see something with more than four legs in our house, I simply shut the door to that room and wait until Dan comes home to take care of it. No more weeping or screaming. Not so loudly, at any rate.
Need I take you through the horror of that moment in the car? If you had been within a hundred meters (and thank goodness no one was), you would have heard a rather eloquent scream followed by the equally eloquent “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD…” If you’re concerned for my salvation, rest assured—not a syllable of it was in vain. I needed God to get rid of the bee nownowNOW before the car and I came to a tragic demise.
I could still feel the weight in my lap and the pricks of its legs sticking through my jeans. God apparently hadn’t heard. “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!” I didn’t dare look down. All I could do was keep the car more or less on the road and try not to imagine all the awful ways that bee was going to kill me with its barbs and fangs and beady-eyed horridness. I suppose I do have to give credit to divine powers for getting me into the mall parking lot without panic wresting the steering wheel from me—and believe me, it tried every quarter-second—because I was certainly not in the proper frame of mind to handle heavy machinery just then. Nevertheless, after the longest minute of my life, I managed to park the car. It may have covered three spaces, and I might have forgotten to actually turn the motor off, but we were safely at a standstill when I snuck a second peek at my lap.
Allow me to provide visual clarification:
If you had been in the parking lot (and unfortunately, plenty of people were), you would have seen a crazed woman leap out of her still-running car and start doing the Riverdance while stringing together Shakespearean curses in a helium voice and beating at her own legs with a purse. You would have seen the jumping abruptly replaced with full-body shuddering as she retrieved the contents of her purse from the pavement and barricaded herself in the car (this time remembering to turn it off). Eventually, you would have seen her glance mistrustfully out the window, climb over the console, crawl out of the passenger door, and head into the mall trying to pretend away her jellified ankles and wild eyes.
It may not have been my most dignified public appearance, but survive I did. I even enjoyed the solo shopping experience, gruesome flashbacks notwithstanding, and when I finally returned to the car, the bee was gone. It probably just flew away in search of some new victim, but I like to think that it returned to Hades from whence it came.
Take it away, Beyonce.