I was a half-hour from home at the end of a seven hour drive a couple weeks ago when a bee flew into my car.
Here’s something you have to know: when I’m driving for a distance, I will often tuck my left leg up under me or put my foot on the seat and lean my leg up against the door. People have been crabbing at me about this habit for years, but no one’s ever been able to convince me it’s a problem.
I can now tell you that this habit becomes a problem in the rare instance when a bee is knocked into some part of your car with a force you can hear and then lands on the seat between your legs, injured just enough to no longer be able to fly but still alive enough to crawl around.
That day was one of the hottest of what has been a very hot summer, and I’d been driving all day with the windows down and the stereo blasting, as is also my habit. I was also wearing the shortest pair of shorts I own, which are quite short and also baggy enough to leave some gaps around my thighs. So there I was speeding along on 490 with this injured bee crawling very near a part of my body that typically has some very strict access regulations and thought, This is how people die.
My first impulse was to swat at the bee, but the force of the five million times I’ve told my godsons to stop swatting at bees (“If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.”) stopped me. Instead, I sucked in my stomach and pushed my back against the seat in a ridiculous attempt to get farther away from the bee, who was still between my legs stumbling around like a drunkard. I thought about pulling off onto the shoulder of the road, but this was a bad idea for two reasons: 1.) I was on the section of the expressway that has soundproofing walls and no shoulder to speak of, and 2.) the only reason to stop would be to jump out of the car, and what I’d be jumping into would be heavy traffic zipping along at about 70 MPH, which I felt could lead to more problems.
So I decided to get off at the next exit, which was about a mile away. You’d think it would take me a minute to drive that mile going 70 MPH, but I swear it took a half hour.
This is when I started talking. Whether it was to myself or the bee, I could not say. “It’s okay,” I said. “This is fine. This is all going to be fine.”
The whole time I was thinking about how it’s been about 25 years since I was last stung by a bee and how I never used to be allergic to bees but how I’m allergic to a lot of things now that I didn’t used to be allergic to. I was wondering if I did get stung and have a reaction whether I might be able to get to my epipen in time, as it was locked away in my suitcase in the trunk of the car. I cursed myself for locking my epipen in the suitcase in the trunk of my car. I cursed myself for not wearing one of those stupid allergy bracelets my allergist is always yammering on about.
I cursed myself for a lot of things.
Out loud, I was still, “Everything’s good. Everything’s cool. This is going to be fine.”
I talk myself through a lot of moments like this.
Finally, there was the exit. I pulled off the expressway, found a side street, and jumped out of the car onto someone’s front lawn, where I fell right over on the grass. I laid there for longer than was necessary, looking at the sky and feeling so relieved to have gotten away from the bee.
Of course, when I got up, I had no idea where the bee was. I tried looking around for him, in the car and outside, but he was nowhere to be found.
Thank goodness the people who lived in the house I’d stopped in front of did not seem to be home. They may have been inside peeking out the curtains and wondering what the heck I was doing, but if they were, I didn’t know about it, so that was fine.
I got back in the car and drove the rest of the way home. With my foot on the seat, leaning my leg against the driver’s side door.
I figured the odds were with me.