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The First Bee Sting Blues

Two days ago I was sitting at the kitchen island thinking about a long tall aluminum tower cup of Country Time lemonade. About how I should probably go ahead and buy me a huge container of that mix and mix me up a nice big glass pitcher of refreshment circa 1982, ice cubes clinking in the still summer air, when all of a sudden I heard Violet crying in the backyard and, against every bit of fight I had in me, I came spilling out of my dumb daydream, the hammock of easy living spilling me back down into this hard fast world like golf ball hail.

And the thing is, her bawling seemed sincere; after a few years of solid parenting, you can pick out the real cries from the fake ones in a matter of seconds.

“Hmph,” I said to myself.

Hmph.

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I drug my tired lawn-mowing ass to the backdoor to survey the damage.

Violet was in her mommy’s arms. Which, in retrospect, is probably the best place for a kid to be in the wake of her first bee sting. My wife had that look on her face that says to me a couple of things with just an eyeball roll/raised eyebrow/shifting glance.

First, it says, everything is fine you useless oaf, so don’t go getting all panicky about the situation here because that won’t do anyone any good and you know it and I know it and you know that I know it and you know that I know that you know it.

Second off, her look reassured me that it was a BEE that stung our daughter and not a coral snake.

Third, in that fleeting instant of time when I met my wife carrying my crying 4-year-old up the back steps, I noticed a glint in her left eyeball that indicated to me quite clearly that the whole healing process had already begun for Violet and that she was crying more because she was scared and even a little surprised that something so … so … I don’t know, so sting-y, could even exist down in the warm green crabgrass of our safe yard. And that it would be best if I just got the hell out of the way and let mom and daughter sort out the event themselves, since I had a somewhat sullied reputation when it comes to calmly sorting out my avalanche of emotions when it comes to my kids (and driving behind slow old people and dealing with jaded retail clerks, etc.).

Anyway, they bolted right past me on their way in the house, and I was left staring out at the yard.

Hmph.

I didn’t know what to say. I was confused. Isn’t that so stupid?

Violet’s sobs were an old English ambulance as they blew by, a Doppler-effect siren screeching across some 1940 London night, and I’m not going to lie to you here: I wanted to kick some kind of ass because I didn’t know what else to do.

I went down in the yard looking for the bee.

I’m an idiot, you see?

Across the grass I swerved my vision but, well, you know. Bees don’t just come running up to flustered dads hoping for a painless death, now, do they? Rumor has it that once they sting a tiny foot they go off to perish somewhere privately. Maybe they fall out of the sky mid-daydream, like I did from my cup of Country Time. Maybe they fly straight into a sparrow’s mouth hole. Perhaps they go back to the hive and die with some semblance of warrior dignity, a big impromptu bee funeral breaking out with sad heartbreaking speeches and big toasts where all the bees raise up their teensy mugs of raw honey and cry and sing and get drunk as hell as they remember their fallen comrade.

Whatever.

A stupid ass bee stung my daughter, and all I could think of was to exact a little revenge on a creature that weighs as much as one of my beer burps.

Nothing was out there, in the yard. At least nothing I could see. The bee was probably sitting there watching me, I figure, sitting on a leaf in the old tree, his final breath leaking out of him as he gave me the finger and passed away.

Back inside I crept up to the scene and kneeled down next to Violet, who was gulping air now, big heaving sighs and hiccups of sadness, on her mommy’s lap.

I didn’t know what to say. I was confused. Isn’t that so stupid?

I felt sorry for her, yet I was proud of her in a strange way, too. After all, she had crossed over a proverbial threshold of childhood, right? Getting stung by a bee because you were running around in the young summertime yard is like some kind of rite of passage or something, don’t you think?

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But, I couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t.

I kissed Violet’s puffy pink foot and with my eyes trained on my wife I let it loose.

“No more bare feet in the damn yard,” I mumbled, my lips pressed up against the spot I was smooching.

Monica’s eyes met mine and slammed a horrific sword into them. Violet milked her tears, kind of digging all of the attention. I sighed, a helpless 41-year-old buffoon.

“Dumb bee,” I mumbled into my little girl’s toes. “Stupid dumb bee.”

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