The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Death and Picnics

I have never been stung by a bee, but having “anything can be dangerous if you think about it enough” anxiety and an extreme aversion to needles (I once passed out during a flu shot), I have never gotten an allergy test to determine if flailing my arms in front of my face and running around the yard like my hair is on fire is an appropriate reaction to the presence of a bee. Since the flu shot incident, which was witnessed by the majority of my college dorm and resulted in a university health center mandate that patients must henceforth be seated during medical procedures, I have found it necessary to warn every nurse that comes at me with a syringe that my completely reasonable fear that the needle will snap off in my arm, scrape through my bloodstream and then puncture my heart like a water balloon makes me slightly panicky once they strap on the tourniquet. I once mentioned this to the phlebotomist at my doctor’s office and she politely requested that if I felt the need to pass out, to kindly do so away from her, since I was “a lot bigger and the fall would kill her.” This inspired the urge to lift her over my head and hurl her into the garbage can, but my wet noodle arms and deference to people with sharp objects led me to quietly will myself toward unconsciousness so that I might flatten the impertinent youth in retribution. We both emerged unscathed.

As mentioned, I have made it almost thirty years having never fallen victim to a bee attack, which I credit to my constant vigilance and heightened perception when it comes to the buzzy little fuckers. I am more aware of the presence of bees than any other part of my environment. I have tuned out gunshots and slept through earthquakes (albeit midwestern earthquakes, which are less like tumultuous, ground-shattering catastrophes and more like the earth ate a bad burrito and has a bit of gas), but if there is a bee within a square mile of me, I’m tracking the little bastard with every ounce of my concentration and then arming myself with a mace and hiding under a picnic table once it makes its approach. I have been told, I am certain erroneously, that bees will only harm you if they perceive you as a threat. This is a lie propagated by bee apologists who claim such falsehoods as “Bees are integral to the environment” and “Katie, please stop screaming during my outdoor wedding ceremony,” which I refuse to accept. I know they’re plotting. They sense my fear. They feed off of it.

I have tried to quell my fear of bees, but the moment I hear that ominous buzzing circling around my head like the theme song to “Jaws,” I lose all sanity and panic like a high school freshman who just found out Brad is taking Stephanie K. to the dance instead. This is not melodrama, though, it is self-preservation. If the beachgoers had paid attention to the soundtrack instead of splashing in the water like a bunch of oblivious doofuses, they wouldn’t have gotten eaten by Jaws. So I always remain aware of my surroundings and ensure at least six viable exit strategies and proper footwear should I need to make a quick escape. And I’m thinking about getting a gun. Just in case.

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