OPINION: Labor Day aerial assault brings pain, itching, bad dreams

“Men should stop fighting among themselves
and start fighting insects”
– Luther Burbank

I learned something about myself on Labor Day.
Unlike Julie Andrews’ Maria von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” simply remembering my favorite things did nothing to make me feel better.
I’m not sure had I been dear Julie or courageous Maria I’d have had the presence of mind early last Monday morning to bring anything to mind.
The only thing I was thinking was, “Ouch.”
My parents were coming to lunch and I was trying to get the yard mowed and the deck cleared before they arrived.
Since fall is near, I figured it was time to slide the pups’ pool under the deck until next summer.
To do so, I had to pick up a brick or two which were in the way. I tossed them aside and stood to grab the pool.
Suddenly, I heard a loud buzzing noise nearby. Very loud. Very nearby.
I thought the noise must have come from a humongous bee.
The buzzing faded into the background as my roommate began yelling at me, “Take off your shirt. Take off your shirt.”
Then pain pummeled my body.
A man was painting the house next door, so modesty trumped pain. But I’m told I moved rapidly to the back door, then removed my shirt, leaving it outside.
My roommate later told me my pink T-shirt was completely black from yellow jackets.
I stopped counting bites/stings at 25 and I thanked God I was not allergic.
Folks have corrected me as I’ve regaled them with my tale of misery. When I say bite, they say sting.
Before Labor Day, all I really knew about the black and yellow winged monsters was that they were the mascot of the junior high and high school where I taught in my first career.
Truth is, I’ve read a lot about yellow jackets since my close encounter. They do bite and sting. And sting. And sting.
They do not sting once and die like bees. The wretched creatures show no mercy and are persistent in their plot to poison people. And animals.

Poor George
Later Monday, George the dog went out for an evening frolic and was stung.
My dad’s spraying insect poison into the doorway of their den multiple times Monday afternoon did not dissuade the menacing marauders.
A pest control person on Tuesday told me to spray no more. “It only makes them angry.”
She spoke the truth, and sent someone out the next day who said the hole where the yellow jackets had made their home was at least 21⁄2-feet deep and that I was fortunate to have been bitten and stung only 25 times.
Steroids have helped heal the pain and itching. And a prescription for an epipen is there just in case it’s needed in the future.
The only lasting issue? The nightmares.
I blame the yellow jackets. And my dear friend Marsha Tapscott.
It was she who, upon hearing of the Labor Day assault, said all she could think of was that sweet but tragic movie “My Girl,” in which Macaulay Culkin’s Thomas J. dies after being stung by a swarm of bees.
Ah, thanks for the memory.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal .com or (662) 678-1584.

Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal