In August a few years back I returned to my Nashville home after one of my regular visits to see my folks in Pittsburgh. I’m one of those guys that—especially when driving alone—likes to get the trip over with. No dawdling for this trooper. Wolf down some food, fill ‘er up, take a tinkle, and keep rollin’.
So when I pulled up in front of my place in the historic 12 South District at around 5 in the afternoon after 600 miles in nine hours, I was more than ready for a relaxing evening. Ever notice how when you get out of car at the end of a long journey that there is literally some sort of decompression that happens to your head? Must have something to do with listening to King’s X at concert volume, and pumped AC. All I know is that when I popped my passenger door, the thick Cumberland Valley air and ninety degree temperature fogged my glasses, not to mention my other sensory perceptions. I think a pressure headache formed behind my eye sockets in about 6.7 seconds.
I nodded “hello” to my neighbors as I shuffled up the walkway and front steps with two suitcases, a briefcase, and some hangered clothes draped over my shoulder. I fumbled for my keys and began fidgeting with the dead bolt lock on my front door.
That rather minute vibration set off a chain reaction of events that are humorous in retrospect, but were painful in the moment.
I had been gone for a week from my artist management company that was based out of the second floor of my home. My Director of Operations, Rann, should’ve given me some warning about what I was walking into…but somehow it just slipped his mind. You see, a wasp’s nest had formed in the archway above my front porch. He and the other employees had all been frightened of them for several days and began using the back entrance. A little note on the front door could’ve saved me opening that tallboy of whupass that I was about to drink in.
Quicker than you could say “Sweet Agnes Sixbutts,” I was swarmed upon by a dozens of perturbed wasps that had set up shop above my doorway. I got stung six times in a matter of less than three seconds. I dropped all my belongings and nearly flew down those eight steps, twisting, waving arms around my skull, and spasmodically screaming like the Tasmanian Devil. I don’t think the chic singer from The Cranberries could’ve sounded any worse. I’m confident my neighbors thought I had utterly flipped-out---after all, those insects weren’t visible from a hundred feet away. My reactions, however, were quite the spectacle as I careened around my lawn a couple of times leaping, dipping, and dodging as I tried to evade the remaining few hornets that were in attack mode.
This is not the sort of “howdy-do” I was expecting at the completion of my long pilgrimage.
Within half a minute, the furious squadron returned to home base. My adrenaline had kicked into hyper drive. With heart pounding, and nerves near the skin pulsating in pain from the wicked bites on my cheek, neck and arms, I became a man possessed. They picked the wrong night to piddle in MY Post Toasties.
Leaving all my belongings akimbo on the front porch, with keys still dangling out of the lock, I marched around to the back to retrieve my safety key from its hidden location. Because my muscles were still a bit atrophied from the long drive, as well as the rage that was coursing through my veins, I tripped on the edge of the deck, falling heavily forward onto my chin, cutting my leg and spraining my wrist. Once again, my neighbors who saw the entire fiasco must've thought I was applying as an extra for the Soupy Sails Show.
I’m not sure how it is with you, but when I am angry and hurt, it becomes a powerful combination. My resolve at that moment to do something about those winged assassins was about five digits beyond meltdown on the ol’ “look out he’s pissed” meter.
With glasses now freshly hazing over again—this time from the AC inside the house, I gathered-up all the insect spray I could find, some work gloves, a jacket, and a chair. I believe I came up with several hitherto untried combinations of epithets and play-by-play commentary on variations of some not-so-wholesome bodily functions as I was yelling at no one in particular. Kind of like Nicholas Cage when he goes berserk in a film.
Circling back around to the front, I surveyed the porch—seems the wasps were back in construction mode. So I stealthily crept up the steps and grabbed my belongings, taking great care not to vibrate the foundation with any of my movements.
Then I unwound my garden hose, and while positioned about twenty feet away in the front yard, opened the spigot to full, and let fly on the nest. Hundreds of those black hellions scattered. And while they were fiesty there was no way they could match my seething temper. “Die, you flesh eating scabbards!” I muttered under my breath. After unleashing innumerable gallons on them, I sensed that a goodly portion had either drowned or flown the coop.
Like Patton chasing Rommel, I hurtled back up those stairs, mounted my chair, and sprayed copious amounts of flying insect killer all over that entrance way. Some of them were still buzzing and flailing in their moistened state, and I took great delight in mashing any that I could with my fists. I know I got stung a few more times, but the rush of battle was over-riding the immediate pain.
Rest assured, those bugs are no longer with us. They had been dispensed to the nether regions by one very determined and angry road-weary sojourner. I didn't care if I got hit a dozen more times, they were about to travel to that Great Arachnid in the Sky for their reward. “They shant be stinging anyone again in THIS life,” I decreed.
Once the insectide eradication was finished, I entered my home, sat down for a cold drink, and let the adrenaline subside. Much of the rest of the night was spent tending to my stings, abrasions, bruised chin, and the sprained wrist, rather than stretching out in my lazy boy. I should’ve bought stock in Advil for all I ingested that muggy late summer’s eve. Sleep did not come easy, I can guarantee you that.
Now, every spring and throughout the warm months, I regularly embark on search and destroy missions with even the slightest hint of a wasp nest. No more surprise attacks for this weary traveler if I can avoid it! I am one W.A.S.P. who has no kinship with his winged brethren.