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