#155 – Beware the Yellowjackets

How can a grown man be unsure if he’s allergic to bees? It seems odd to me, yet my friend Ned insists he didn’t find out for certain until a doctor confirmed matters last month. During our conversation last night, he filled me in on the events which led to the revelation.

One unusually hot Saturday in early October, Ned’s wife forced him to bring the family to her nephew’s pee-wee football game. As expected, the gridiron action itself proved distinctly unentertaining. But the boredom factor seemed insignificant compared to the other ills besetting my amigo. A combination of sweat-inducing heat, endless bitching and moaning from his own kids, and a plague of yellowjackets created a perfect storm of misery for Ned. The dangerous insects swarmed so numerously that one concerned father purchased wasp and hornet killer, which he proceeded to spray liberally throughout the vicinity.

Compounding Ned’s unhappiness, midway through the contest he experienced a sudden and absolute urge to use a restroom. Trouble was, the only facilities on hand were a couple of port-o-potties. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t set foot in one of those disgusting contraptions, much less sit down there. But he had no choice, so he did his best to disregard the revolting conditions, as well as the appearance of several yellowjackets in the enclosed space.

While perched on the bowl, he suddenly heard the distinct sound of an aerosol can hissing near the port-o-potty. The appearance of the deadly insecticide apparently riled up the tiny interlopers inside the lavatory. According to Ned, they buzzed about furiously for a few seconds and then strafed him. My poor friend got stung several times in the process, including once on his scrotum!

His fear of a possible bee allergy stemmed directly from the severity of the swelling which occurred around the sting sites. Specifically, when his “man berries” began to look more like fuzzy pink grapefruit, he saw a need to obtain prompt medical assistance. It turned out he wasn’t allergic though. As the emergency room physician advised, the swelling Ned experienced, though substantial, fell within the range of normal reaction.

Upon hearing Ned’s tale, I offered him the helpful information I’d gleaned from my exterminator about aggressive bees and wasps: “As I understand it, the critters can smell fear. They attack when they sense a release of pheromones and a panic-induced jump in heart rate. You obviously panicked, because otherwise they wouldn’t have stung you. If only you’d stayed calm.”

Based on his response, I think it’s fair to say Ned didn’t appreciate my educational commentary: “Of course I panicked, jackass! You would’ve too if you’d seen angry bees heading for your balls!”

Thankfully, my friend isn’t allergic to this insect!


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