One morning last week, when I was walking through the hall, I noticed an enormous flying insect in my bedroom. This is how it happened: I saw the insect, and the next thing I knew, I was crouching on the floor clutching the door frame, as though somehow any of this would protect me. My fight-or-flight instinct may not be logical, but it’s always ready to kick in and make a futile effort. Anyway, after crouching there for a while assessing the situation, I realized that what I was looking at was the largest bee I’d ever seen, about the size of my thumb.
Now Benny, the cat who, among other things, is afraid of the existence of boots and almost everyone who isn’t me, thought that the bee was the most amazing thing that ever happened in his life and that he should try really, really hard to put his nose on it, which is what he does with things he likes. So there I am crouching by the door, Benny’s jumping up and down on the bed trying to get stung, and I’m thinking, I need to take a shower and go to work.
Also the bedroom is where I have to go to get my clothes.
I chose my course of action: I ran in, grabbed Benny (who reacted to being rescued by yowling like I was killing him), grabbed my clothes, ran out, shut the door, and locked the bee inside my bedroom. I decided I’d call Jason later and bribe him with cookies or something to come take care of the bee.
Then I took my shower, got dressed, and went to work.
Two things happened during the day. First, Jeffrey sent me a link to this TED Talk about fear by astronaut Chris Hadfield, and then later Chuck posted a link on Facebook to this Bill Hicks bit that also encourages its listeners to choose not to be afraid. Watching those two things in rapid succession made me feel like I could handle the bee on my own. Of course I could. It was just a bee. What Could Go Wrong?
And so empowered like the idiot I am, I went home feeling ready to deal with the mutant bee by myself. I did a few things around the apartment before I worked myself up to opening the bedroom door. I didn’t hear the bee, and I didn’t see the bee. I walked in slow, slow, slow. As I ventured further into the room, I got more and more irritated that I couldn’t find the bee, until finally what I felt was not afraid of the bee, but annoyed by the way it was hiding. Finally I decided that it had probably died somewhere and that I’d stumble across it eventually.
Then I went about my business.
I found the bee later when I was putting away laundry. It was crawling on the floor barely alive, but it startled me so when I saw it that I shouted, jumped, and threw the shirt I’d had in my hands. You know, like an empowered person does.
Then I watched the bee for a minute. It was pathetic, the way it could hardly move, and I thought about trying to scoop it up and take it outside, which is probably what Jason would have done had I called him. I haven’t been stung by a bee since I was very small, though, and I wasn’t allergic to stings then, but I have also acquired a lot of allergies as an adult that I didn’t have when I was a kid. I don’t know that I’m allergic to bee stings, but I don’t know that I’m not. I have an EpiPen, so in theory I could save myself, but I’ve never had to give myself an injection before, either.
And the thought of dying home alone scares me.
I got out the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the bee up.
A week later, Benny, the cat who doesn’t remember five minutes ago, still gets up on the bed every day and stares at the ceiling for a while, hoping that amazing day with the bee happens again.