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Sunday, October 06, 2013


In the course of painting the front porch of my mother's cottage last week, I was stung twice.
I assume it was bees who were the culprits.

I had moved the motley of chairs from the porch when I started, and now was moving them around the perimeter - it being too early to put them back on the porch - preparatory to scramming, take my mother home, then drive the 60 miles back to my own place.
None of the chairs resembled each other. One was an Adirondack, or Muskoka, one was a rattan arm chair, one was a cloth fold up sportable-portable that I guess one dragged around to soccer matches and Little League games back in some unspecified day;  it had a cloth pocket sewn into a piece on one arm that sort of hung down like a wombat's pouch - and here I am supposing a wombat is a marsupial - or maybe a kangaroo's pouch, and which was designed to hold cans of beverages.

A great deal of time and effort has been put into can holders in the USA. I had a car once that was very much like a puzzle sketch in which one was to try and count all the cup or can holders hidden in the picture. I mean, I do not think we ever came to a final count. There were can holders on the backs of the seats, which were totally not functional unless the seat back were pushed all the way forward, so either no one was sitting in front, or those in front faced backwards when they wanted to have a pull on the old soda can.... all of which sounds just as least as dangerous as texting, but back in the day, not a word was uttered about it.
(I recall that when the lease expired, I was spiffing the pile of bolts up with a wash and vacuuming, and, having taken some of the rear compartments mats out, discovered a "coupla cup cotes" in the neighborhood of the spare tire and the stash of the nonce tools to be used for the Life-Saver-Candy-sized spare.)

So I was moving the porch furniture, and I must have irritated and enraged some bees, while failing to discourage them or to make them lose heart, for they attacked.
Usually I am impervious to insects and their allies, toxic plants, but I had the distinct impression of being bitten by a horsefly... only the pain of the bite kept on getting more acute.

Very soon, the horsefly bite threshhold of pain was crossed, and we entered new territory, which caused me to swat and run for the back of the cottage.

I was sore beset. When you find yourself in such predicaments, even the optical "flies" that flit about the corneas become imaginary threats. Mine began to buzz, causing a type of synasthesia new to medical science, where my eyes could hear frequencies within the "malign buzzing" range.

I had received 2 stings, and they hurt.
I had not been stung in at least 60 years.

My mother was on the back porch, and I informed her of the state of affairs.
"Hmm. I didn't know you were stung before."
I goggled.
"Well, it was the time we were at the Schueler's at the corner of the River Road and Schnickenberger Road..."
Those many years ago, Mr. Schnickenberger was still alive, and was - we were informed - the possessor of a horn on his head. My brother and I would skulk about the 3 points intersection of roads to catch a glimpse of Mr. Schnickenberger.

She said she remembered Schueler's, but not my stings.
"I was stung at least 10 times!" I said. "How could you forget?"
She smiled.
"You're not allergic to bee stings, are you?" she asked.

I answered that I was not, at least I had not been 60 years ago, but she would not know that.

"FOX news had a piece on how bees get crazy this time of year..."

I looked at her. "Of all the things you talk about, why did you not mention that bit of timely information?"
I was being facetious, but it would have been helpful.

She had been furrowing the aged brow a bit while thinking over these matters, and now she brightened up a bit. "I was bitten by a bee."

"Recently?" I asked, hopefully.

"No. About 15 years ago. We were sitting in the car waiting for the ferry to come across, and I had the window down. A bee flew in and stung me."

She seemed to smile a bit, not because she recalled that bee venom was all that pleasurable, but no doubt because she had come up with a scenario in which she was the central figure, and her pain from 15 years ago took precedence over mine right now.
I know I sound childish and temperamental,  but I do not very often seek the solace of others, and I thought I should be center stage.

Then she sounded solicitous. "What did I do to take care of your stings back at Schueler's? Did I put on baking soda, ice, calamine?"

"I think you pushed me down the back steps and said to run it off." I said.

She did not exactly laugh, because there was a small chance she had employed such a bee sting regimen.
"Oh, surely not!" she said.

"Maybe you were at the Latin Quarter, dining and dancing and having champagne drunk from your slipper, and my brother and I were spending the summer with a maid."

"Nonsense," she said. "It was too long after the end of the war. Back in '48, '49', maybe we would have sent the two of you off with the maid..."

I went back to painting.


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