|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Aug. 17, 2014 - 11:38 a.m.
I was out on our back porch the other day reading Kafka or Jugs-n-Guns or something when I started getting this buzzing sound in my ear. It was pretty loud, and pretty constant, and after a few minutes it was driving me crazy. I put "The Metamorphosis" or "DD's and Derringers" down, went inside, and grabbed a couple of Q-Tips.
Did you know the instructions on the Q-Tips package says they're only for cleaning the outer portion of your ear? According to the ear cleanologists who wrote the package blurb, you're not supposed to insert the things into your ears. Even though they're the perfect size and shape for inserting into your ears.
You know how I know this? Because the very first time NewWifey(tm) barged into the bathroom unannounced after we were married - coincidentally the very first time I realized married life was not going to be like dating life - she saw me standing at the sink with just the very fuzzy end of a Q-Tip sticking out of my left ear.
"OH MY GOD!" she yelled. "YOU'RE GONNA PUNCTURE AN EARDRUM!"
"What??" I said.
(OK, I didn't actually say that. That joke's too old even for me.)
She reached up and (more or less) gently extracted the 3 inches of buried swab from my ear.
"Look" she said, pointing to the box. "DO NOT INSERT SWAB INTO EAR CANAL. It says it right on the box."
"What??" I said.
She slapped me and stormed out.
Yeah, yeah. It's on the box. Big deal. The side of the Tampax box says "Do Not Reuse", but you don't see that stopping HER, do you?
So I really worked the swabs in, almost til I could feel it banging the temporal lobe on each side. It did the trick. No more buzzing.
I went back outside and grabbed my magazine. Book.
What the hell? Have I developed synesthesia, and every time I see a naked breast now I'm gonna hear buzzing? Am I stricken with tinnitus?
I swatted away the hornets that were circling my face and thought about it.
Waaaaaait for it....
I shot out of my chair and sprinted as fast as I could to the far side of the porch. Hornets up here are not to be trifled with. People have lost pets to them. They weren't stung, they were carried off (or so they claim). I wasn't taking any chances.
From my vantage point I could easily see a steady stream of black and yellow bodies flitting into and out of a large, ragged hole where my roof's eaves met the chimney. There was a LOT of flitting. A lot.
Those fuckers! They ate my eaves!
And built a condo!
Holy crap. I got as close as panic would allow, which was enough for me to see the leading edge of a large, large, and I mean large, paper hornet's nest. It went back further than I could see. Having a bit of a brainstorm, I ran inside and pressed my ear up against the top of our dining room wall on the other side.
Allllllll the way down the dining room, right to the bathroom. There were probably more hornets in my eaves than eaves.
Now here's the thing. I figure for a hornet's nest to get that big they must have started building it sometime during the Clinton administration. The first one. But this entire time we've had a very peaceful coexistence. I sit down below on sunny days and read titty magazines - Kafka - and they whiz back and forth 10 feet above carrying pollen or cats or whatever. No one bothers no one. Cross-species laissez-faire.
But now that I know they're there.....b-r-r-r-r-r-r-r. HORNETS!!
I've gotta get rid of them.
If I just emptied a can of Wasp-B-Dead into the hole in the eaves it might kill 2 or 3 hundred thousand of them. But judging from how far down the wall the nest goes, that would only be about a fifth of them. The rest could come pouring out and inject more venom into me than I weigh. I certainly couldn't get up there with a crowbar and yank a 10-foot section off all at once. That would be even worse. I briefly toyed with the idea of a controlled burn - soaking a rag in gasoline, lighting it, then jamming it as far up the hole as I could while spraying a garden hose of water on the roof to tamp down errant flames - but quickly nixed it.
In the end I decided on Wasp-B-Dead. Lots of Wasp-B-Dead. And luck.
The next day I stopped at Walmart and picked up 4 cans of the stuff. One is supposed to kill a colony the size of Bhutan, according to the can. I brought home 4, twisted off the safety tabs, then lined them up on the porch rail. Lock and load, baby.
I had to wait til dark, though. I knew from experience that hornets have a strong union and only work during daylight hours. Come dusk they all pile back into the nest and bed down. If you wipe them out then, there are usually very few stragglers waiting to re-populate the place.
That night, then, I commenced "Operation: Sting Sucks!" (I've been waiting a long, long time for a chance to use that operation name.) I shook up each can of spray for a good 30 seconds, set a step ladder about 15 feet from the hole, extended my telescoping golf ball retriever far enough to reach well into the opening, and then did the most important thing of all:
I donned my anti-hornet suit.
I have an anti-hornet suit.
Well, technically I don't. It's NewWifey(tm)'s. She wears it whenever she gardens, mows the lawn, or has to be anywhere near a standing body of water for more than 20 seconds. NewWifey(tm) is more nervous around flying insects than a Down's Syndrome orphan is around Catholic priests.
The suit's a pretty neat thing, actually. It's like a big, billowy hoodie made of fine nylon mesh. You pull the hoodie up and over your head, and various zippers attach various flaps until your entire head and body is encased. Wearing it is like looking out of a fencing mask, or, I imagine, a less soul destroying burqa. The sleeves and the bottom pant leg hems have tight drawstring closures, leaving only your hands and feet exposed. The weave is fine enough that (hopefullyhopefullydeargodpleasehopefully) it stops even slender KILLER HORNET stingers. They say.
That was the last bit, then. I pulled the gauzy black material over my head, double checked all the closures, pulled on a pair of heavy duty motocross boots and gloves, then set out for the Killing Fields. Only problem? Trying to see anything - anything at all - at night through a coal black burqa.
I went back in and grabbed some floor lamps and an extension cord. Probably should have thought of that first.
Ok. It's 21-hundred hours, and we're finally good to go. Commence "Operation: Sting Sucks"!
First things first: re-shake the cans. Then empty half a can into the rag. Jam the rag into the end of the extended golf ball retriever and hoist the thing up like a jousting lance. Climb the ladder.
In one motion I jabbed the retriever up and into the hole, twisting it so the poison soaked rag would dislodge and create a deadly barrier. Then I slapped the retriever broadside against the eaves 5 or 6 times to let the residents know there was someone at the door. After the last rap I threw the retriever over the railing and grabbed a can of spray in each hand, Matrix style. Hoo-rah!
It didn't take long.
Within seconds - I mean, seconds - it sounded like someone started an outboard motor right over my head. These guys do not wake up groggy, needing a cup of honey before even thinking about going out and stinging the shit out of some hapless intruder. Just, "knock knock", and BOOM, they are out the door ass-first.
I'm glad I had the bright idea to cram that soaked rag in their main entrance. Most of the little buggers must have instinctively headed there first. I saw the rag bulge a bit, then a steady stream of lifeless yellow-and-black bodies began dropping straight down from the hole to the porch, piling up in a neat little mound. The hornets in the back were so furious to get to me that they were pushing their compatriots straight into the rag. The stream of dead and dying became more of a waterfall. I would have stopped to marvel at it if I hadn't been so busy trying to stay alive.
It turns out there was more than one exit to the hive. From behind several loose slats, and out of a tube-like structure on the roof I hadn't seen before, thousands of hornets started erupting. Just a trickle at first, but as more and more of them on the inside realized the main gate was shut and headed to the alternates, it looked like the side of my house was exploding.
I turned into a blur of spinning nylon and aerosol. I didn't bother aiming, I just tried to create a defensive cloud of suspended poison around me and at the same time soak as wide a swath of my house as possible.
It was no good. They were bigger than Bhutan. I ripped through those first two cans in under a minute, then two fisted the others. They didn't last much longer. There was a sea of tiny yellow and black corpses ringing me on the deck, but entire waves were still emerging from the siding and eaves. When the fourth can of Wasp-B-Dead gasped out its final dregs, I knew I was a goner.
All I can say is: buy an anti-hornet suit. Seriously. Go down, right now, to Cabelas or Bass-Tastic or Campy's or wherever you buy your outdoor couture, and get yourself an anti-hornet suit. Get 3. I'm going to start giving them away as Christmas presents from now on. I'm putting them in the Salvation Army cauldrons.
That suit saved my life. All the hornets that were left piled on to your Dear Narrator's hulking form and started ass-slamming for all they were worth. I can't tell you how many there were because, well for one thing I can't count that high. But also, because they completely covered the burqa and I couldn't see out. But I can tell you they were heavy. When there are enough insects on him that a 190 pound ex-boxer thinks they're heavy, that's gotta be a lot of insects. And they were LOUD. My god! It was like being inside a tornado of chainsaws.
After breathing a sigh of relief that I wasn't about to die in horrible paroxysms of seizures and anaphylaxis, it dawned on me, 'what do I do now?'. I couldn't very well take the suit off. Hornets are insects, but they're not stupid. I'm sure if I peeled that nylon shroud off and dumped it over the side of the porch they wouldn't spot me and say "Forget him boys, he's just an innocent bystander. Keep stabbing the intruder mesh!" I'd be paralyzed, waiting for their eggs to hatch inside me before I could say "It's all a big misunderstanding!" I needed to remain calm and think of an effective solution without panicking.
Truth be told though, I wasn't really in any condition to think calmly. Between the incessant horrendous noise, the dusty/musty/moldy insect smell, and just the general ick-response to having probably 60 pounds of glorified bees thrashing about in full feeding frenzy mode just an inch or two from my skin, I was indeed panicking.
So I did what any panicked middle aged child would do.
I ran inside.
As in, inside the house. Where my wife lives. And my dog, and my cat.
None of whom were wearing anti-hornet suits. The fools.
Now, before you judge me, there was actually some method to my madness here. See, on the far side of my dining room, probably 20 feet from the porch door, there's a little guest bathroom with a full working shower.
I had to go for it. If I could make it to the shower, "Operation: Sting Sucks!" would be a success. I just had to hope the entire angry mob stayed affixed during the sprint there.
They did. Not even one laid off the attack and detached into the house. I made it to the bathroom, slammed the door behind me, and jumped fully clothed into the shower. I yanked the knob all the way out and to the right and braced myself.
When the water first shot out it was ice, ice cold. That's what I was bracing for. We have well water, and tell water is cold water. I had to put up with it until the water heater kicked in. Then when it did, I braced myself again. NewWifey(tm) likes HOT water, so she set the thermostat on the water heater to "Braise". But I couldn't pussy out this time and only crank the temperature knob halfway. I needed to steam cook the fuckers on my body, and I needed to do it fast. If they just got uncomfortably warm they might abandon ship and head out down the hall in search of easier prey.
So I stood there with my teeth clenched and my fists balled trying not to instinctively jump away from the torrent of blistering water that I could feel was turning my skin bright scarlet even under my clothes. No wonder lobsters turn that color! The pain was unbelievable.
But it worked. Gradually I started to feel lighter as solid sheets of insect matter sloughed off the outside of my suit. The noise started lessening, and at the same time I started to be able to see through the screen. And what I saw was a solid raft of dead and dying hornets clogging the drain of my tub. It must have been two inches thick. The drain quickly clogged, and soon the burning water was backing up over the tops of my boots.
I turned the shower off.
Everything was eerily quiet. That was the most startling thing. It went from what sounded like having my head stuck in a blender, while my inner mind was screaming in primal terror, to.... nothing. At the flip of a switch. It was almost as unsettling as the other way around.
But the silence didn't last long.
*knock knock knock*
"Honey, are you ok?"
*knock knock knock*
"HONEY? ARE YOU OK?"
I looked at the carnage swirling in the tub around me and said "Everything's fine, hon. Just taking a shower."
"In the guest bathroom?"
"Oh, well" I laughed, "I wanted to use the pretty soap for once. I want to smell like lavender!" I held my breath.
I could practically see her rolling her eyes on the other side of the door.
"Ok, well, whatever. Just don't make a mess in there. I'm having company over tomorrow."
I heard her footsteps disappear down the hall. It worked!
Now to get rid of the evidence.
I knew from past - oh, let's call them "adventures" - that our guest toilet can handle some pretty large loads. Not that I'm in the habit of testing its limits, but...well let's just leave it at that, shall we?
So I knew it could handle a lot bees. Or hornets. Whatever. Although not all at once. Not even the bravest, strongest American Standard lever-action top-tank water closet could drop 60 pounds of winged insect carcasses in one shot. I grabbed the wastebasket and began to scoop them up a little at a time, flushing between scoops.
I'm completely naked, mind you, and a cheery shade of crimson for the most part. My clothes and the bee-urqa were hung over various rods and hooks, and my motocross boots and gloves were plopped on the bath mat in the corner. Everything, me included, was shipping water out onto the tiled floor.
I had to get this done quickly so I could mop up before NewWifey(tm) did a final inspection before her guests arrived. I'd rather face a swarm of hornets without a suit than face NewWifey(tm) after I messed up the guest bathroom.
So: scoop, flush. Scoop, flush. Scoop, flush.
Until the fifth flush.
*knock knock knock*...*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
"What the hell are you doing in there? Flushing a body down the toilet? Why do I keep hearing flushing?"
"It's nothing, honey. Just a little lower-GI action that came out of nowhere. I'm sure it will pass."
"Are you in pain?"
"It just stings a bit. I'll be out soon."
"Wellll, ok. Just so long as you - "
Uh oh. I knew what was coming next. I jumped up to brace my shoulder against the door.
Too late. The door kicked in. NewWifey(tm) stood there, looking at hornets in the tub, hornets on the floor, hornets in her good wastebasket, hornets in the toilet and hornets in her husband's hair. She looked at the soaked clothes dripping from rods and hooks and soaked boots saturating her bath mats.
I stood there, naked and bright red, holding a hornet covered plunger. "It's not what you think."
"Not what I think? I have no idea what to think at all! How about: where did you get all these bees?"
She growled low and deliberately, "Fine. Where did you get all these hornets?"
"I'm glad you asked" I said. "You see, back when Bill Clinton first got elected -"
She raised her hand and cut me off.
"I just realized I have no interest in knowing why you're standing naked in the middle of our guest bathroom scooping dead bees" - I started to open my mouth but stopped when I saw the set of her jaw - "scooping dead bees into our toilet by the bucket full. My only interest is that all of this, including you, is cleared out of here by tomorrow so I can show my friends I LIVE A PERFECTLY NORMAL LIFE. Do I make myself clear?"
I nodded dumbly and she left, closing the door behind her.
I got back to work. Scoop, flush. Scoop, flush.
Pretty soon I was able to see patches of the tub floor show through. A few more loads after that and it was all over. All of them, down the hatch.
I still had work to do, of course. But not a lot; mop, cover the wet towels with new ones, wring out the bath mat and tamp it dry with a few rolls of paper towels, empty a bottle of Fabreze. A half hour later it was back to showroom condition.
Finally I pulled on some shorts and went out to sweep all the little bodies off the deck.
And was immediately bitten on the hand by a Brown Recluse spider. It was sitting on the handle of our push broom in the corner.
20 minutes later, in the Emergency Room, the doctor said to NewWifey(tm), "Bad luck. Brown Recluse venom is pretty powerful. Too bad he wasn't stung by a hornet or a bee. They're nothing compared to this. I'm afraid your husband's going to suffer a bit."
"You have no idea...." she said.
Ah, my honey. And she was right.
So that was my weekend. How was yours? Anything buzz-worthy? Ciao!