There are wasps, and there are WASPs.
I suppose it’s a measure of my misspent hours, a reflection of my online reading of late, that when I started typing w-a-s-p into the search box this weekend, the omniscient forces that are Google tried to help me out by auto-filling my search and providing thousands of hits for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Not The Washington Post, and definitely not the sort of wasp I was looking for.
It must be what comes of seeking out the full-length version of the New York Times‘ Book Review interview with Christopher Buckley. Of looking for commentaries on Seating Arrangements, once I’d finished the book. Of checking the availability of my horoscope design in summer scarves at Lilly Pulitzer.
Or maybe it’s what comes of doing an online search for signs of allergic reactions to a wasp sting, pecking away at the keyboard with a few fingers, a variation on the old saw about two-fingered typists, with the other hand folded in an ice pack under one’s arm. Who gets stung by a wasp and searches the Internet for medical information, anyway?
Because that was the way it unfolded. Go out on the deck to clean and re-arrange the flower pots. Get stung by a territorial insect who doesn’t like me messing with its space. Shriek and wail. Apologize the much disturbed cat for creating such an unearthly fuss. Find the Benadryl. Snap a picture of the injured digit.
Find the ice pack. Then look for signs of one’s imminent demise online.
Some medicated and less dramatic time later, I was flinching at the sight of wasps, who found my friends’ flower-surrounded pool as attractive as the rest of us. My friends pooh-poohed my anxieties, pointing out how many decades had gone by before I’d ever been stung by a wasp, suggesting all those years were surely an indicator I wasn’t going to be stung again soon. I moved warily away from the dark brown winged things anyway.
At home, a discussion ensued about the identification of the offending insect. Was it a wasp? or was it a hornet? (Signs your household is Nerd Central: conversations about stings do not involve sympathetic murmuring, but the fine print on cans for meting out death to various species of Vespidae). I was impatient with such details: just kill the thing already, okay?
At least another twenty-four hours went by before my brain started toying with all the disparate pieces of information. Yellow-and-black bugs with wings. Brown bugs with wings. Was it a wasp? or a hornet after all? Only one thing to do — another search.