I went to a wedding this weekend at a beautiful farm outside of Portland. When it came time to eat, we all took our plates outside to sit at picnic tables under a small grove of trees. The sun was out, a pleasant breeze was blowing, horses were frolicking in an adjacent field, and I spent the whole time hyperventilating as a group of yellow jackets darted around the table and one of them leisurely ate my sandwich.
To answer the obvious question, no, I’m not allergic to bee stings, I’ve just harbored a phobia of bees ever since I was a kid (or maybe ever since I saw “My Girl”?) that, to my chagrin, hasn’t abated in adulthood. Here are four ridiculous things I’ve done as a result of my ridiculous fear of bees…
1. Attempting to jump out of a moving car. When I was about 12, my mom was driving my brothers and I on a winding country highway toward the next town over when my brother, sitting behind me, tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey Nona?” He said, “I don’t want you to freak out, but … there’s a bee in your hair.” Obviously, I freaked the fuck out. But this wasn’t a normal freakout. I screamed and started swatting wildly at my hair. I unbuckled my seatbelt and flailed around the minivan before finally clawing my way to the sliding door, opening it, and preparing to jump out of the moving vehicle in order to escape the yet-to-be-seen bee. My mom slammed on the brakes so hard it knocked me backward and foiled my plans (and probably saved my life). “Don’t you dare ever try that again,” she roared at me, but I was too busy rolling around in the ditch to listen.
2. Jumping in front of a moving car. That wasn’t the only time I’ve tempted death in order to escape a bee sting: I have also jumped into traffic, sprinted across train tracks, and nearly fallen off numerous cliffs.
3. Taking the long way. Forever. On a recent walk through my neighborhood, I saw a street by my house had been blocked off with yellow caution tape. As I got closer, I noticed a tattered sign dangling from the tape. “Danger: Yellow Jackets” had been hastily scrawled in what looked like black crayon, and now the sign fluttered in the wind like the last evidence of an extinct civilization. I didn’t know the back story, and I didn’t want to find out: I vowed to never walk down that street again, and I’ve been taking the long way to the coffee shop ever since.
4. Gasping/Screaming At Inopportune Times. There was the time my friend was debating whether or not to break up with her boyfriend when I noticed a swarm of bees on a nearby bush and screamed and ran away from her. The outdoor poetry reading in college when a yellow jacket landed on my knee and I shrieked during the climax of a really terrible existentialist poem. And, of course, the outdoor wedding I officiated when a bee flew a bit too close to my head during the exchange of the rings. Hopefully everyone thought my dramatic gasp was part of the ceremony. Hopefully…
Original by Winona Dimeo-Ediger