Like the Brave Little Tailor before me, I have done battle with many and emerged victorious. Unlike the Brave Little Tailor (a sincere pussy, in my book,) who only fought flies stuck in jelly, I had to stare down the barrel of a generic can of RAID and engage in some hand-to-hand combat with some of nature's most vile and nasty creatures: wasps. I am, of course, referring to the insects and not the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, a distinction I feel needs to be made, given the bright and shiny area of the country in which I live.
A few weeks earlier, we received erroneous information that we had a wasps' nest growing 'neath our rather lovely deck, here at Casa D'Pants. Upon investigation, the only thing we found beneath the deck was a rather large and intricately crafted cardinal's nest (sans cardinal and thank you for that, Jesus, at the time we looked at it.) We were confused as to why there was no buzzing mud nest of stinging agony to be found, but chalked it up to... um, whatever. I think it might have been dinner time, and we were hungry. We forget and ignore lots of stuff when we're hungry.
On Thursday night, FOW #1 had BFF of FOW #1 over for a marathon session of XBox 360 and whatever else it is that 17 year old boys do when they aren't slaying zombies or assassinating peasants and serfs. One of those "other activities" is something called, "I'll Kick Your Ass." The rules are pretty simple, and if it hadn't been for the dreadful outcome, I probably wouldn't have encouraged anyone to stop playing it.
Basically, in the game of, "I'll Kick Your Ass," two 17 year old boys who, laid end to end, are better than twelve feet tall, get sticks. These "sticks" could be brooms. They could be a half-ass rotted Louisville Slugger BFF of FOW #1 found under the porch whilst searching for the imaginary wasp nest down there. Whatever -- just so it's wooden and stick-like, that's all that is required.
Once the sticks are procured, there's a shout of, "I will KICK YOUR ASS!" and each boy circles the other. The end goal, as near as I can tell is to whale on your friend as much as possible. In doing this, two distinct things are accomplished: You learn how much pain your friend can withstand, and you learn how much pain your friend can dish out.
Now, before you go "tsking" about, "What kind of mother lets her child engage in this kind of activity?" Let me cut you off at the pass.
ME, ME! I am the crazy, overly permissive mother tha lets her kid and his friends beat the living snot out of each other in the back yard. They aren't on drugs, they wouldn't hurt each other for real for money and it's actually pretty funny to watch. So, suck it up and deal with it, because "I'll Kick Your Ass" is not the point of this article; the wasps are.
BFF of FOW#1 came flying into the kitchen a scant five minutes into, "I'll Kick Your Ass" Thursday night, as close to tears as a hard-ass 17 year old boy with a rotting Louisville Slugger and a Rep can be without actually crying. While blindly swinging at FOW #1, he'd jarred the deck and suddenly he was in a cloud of darkeness and pain. After helping him clean himself up, I went out to investigate.
My preliminary findings were not awesome, Friends. There was, indeed, a wasps' nest, and it was between two pieces of lattice and way up in the tippy-top of the corner of the frame holding said lattice... on the same side as the steps. Hey -- I'm The Pants! You were expecting this to be easy or simple somehow?
I sized this situation up. Because of a run-in I experienced eight years ago with some yellow jackets, I know some stuff when it comes to our stinging friends. One, the little fuckers will hurt you without regret or remorse. Two, you don't want to aproach a hive or a nest until after the sun has pretty much set. There's no High Noon in fighting stinging insects, there's no Wyatt Earp/O.K Corral call out, and that disturbs me, too. As an almost middle-aged, and definitely myopic woman, my vision isn't so hot. Heavenly shades of night may fall at twilight time, but I kept imaging me falling... down the steps... as I was dived-bombed by wasp squadrons of agony.
I needed a plan. And a giganto, industrial-sized can of Melt-a-Wasp & Hornet Killer, which is something you can easily pick up at your local Wal-Mart. Since I hate Wal-Mart more than life itself, this was the first snag I ran into. Now, you can buy a can of toxic and lethal to wasps chemicals at your local grocery store, but it's mad expensive. Or, maybe, I'm mad-cheap. Let's call this a "Six of One, A Half Dozen" Conundrum and embrace my brilliance, for as much as I hate The Wal-Mart, my sister inversely loves it there. I think I'm a foundling for many reasons, but this little factoid is some of my strongest supporting proof.
My sister agreed that she would pop by the Wal-Mart on her way out of her office. I visibly relaxed, thinking the nightmare would be over before it could even begin in earnest, but -- again! I am The Pants. Nothing ever goes easily for me.
Well, my sister "forgot" to go to Wal-Mart which is, again, further testament to my idea that I am adopted. If Wal-Mart was anywhere on my radar, you can be Goddamned sure it would be as likely to slip my mind as forgetting I was scheduled for an execution or a pap smear. But, I digress... she forgot, so I simply mended this teeny little hole in my plan thusly: No one, and I mean no one, was allowed anywhere near the sliding door to the deck. The dog was not allowed to lie near there and watch for other dogs to -- gasp! -- leave their homes and perhaps pee in their own yards. The cat was not permitted to sit and wait with bloodlust for the cardinal. The kids were not so much as to LOOK at the sliding door, lest they give off psychic vibrations that would anger and arouse the wasps into some sort of stinging frenzy.
This plan worked really, really well Thursday night. Friday morning, however, it was once again proven that we all have the attention spans of Minute Rice and I took the dog out onto the deck, down the steps and into the yard for his morning toilette. My daughter stood, leaning on the railing of the deck, telling me about her plans for the evening.
And then I made a horrible miscalculation of epic proportions. The frisbee that the boys had been playing with prior to the rousing match of "I'll Kick Your Ass," was resting forlornly on the lawn. So, I yelled, "Heads' UP!" and tossed it in the general direction of my daughter, except...
My daughter is a lovely young woman. She is very nimble, very lithe and 13 years of ballet, jazz, tap and gymnastics have made her athletic, as well as graceful. I am the spaz. Know that as well as you know your own name. My daughter = grace. Me? Not so much.
I am the spaz who threw a frisbee directly at a wasps' nest, and when they swarmed out, they went for the first warm body available; in this case, my daughter.
FOW #2 shrieked, did some fancy-schmancy ballet leap that allowed her to cover the three feet of distance between her and the door in less time than I could realize what exactly was happening. I heard the door slam... and the unmistakeable click of being locked out of the house. And it still took me a second to put it all together:
I was locked out.
With angry wasps.
And a tranq'ed yorkshire terrier with a bruised trachea who also has a horrific, terrifying history with yellow jackets so buzzing insects freak his shit to pieces.
In my bare feet.
And boxer shorts.
The dog and I decided to play possum, and stand as still as possible. It seemed to work because, while one or two zoomed angrily past us, none of the wasps paid us any attention. We then wandered into the front yard, looking dazed and frightened and rang the doorbell. No one answered. We rang again.
Nothing. We could hear some sort of commotion on the other side of the door, but for all intents and purposes, we were as welcome on that doorstep as if we were handing out Watchtowers. Of course, it was around this time that most of the neighbors with real work-jobs decided to leave, so I spent a lot of time alternately waving half-heartedly and doing my best Mumbling Crazy Person impression, gesturing wildly and trying to convey that I don't dress like this to leave the house normally. Finally, after 97% of the neighbors had checked me out in my neon green, striped boxers and my "Grab a Heiney!" shirt (complete with realistic butt,) FOW #1 opened the door.
FOW #2 sat on the couch, looking sad and miserable. She also appeared to have had a Grade A, extra large egg surgically implanted in her forehead... right underneath what looked to be a Third Eye. And while all of that is interesting, the most egaging part of the whole scene was how, despite being clearly in pain, she was able to completely ass-ream my sister on the telephone about getting Melt-A-Wasp over here and getting it over here now.
Further proof my sister and I may not share blood: She dropped everything and delivered.
Now, I could lie to you and tell you that I forgot to spray the nest last night. I could utterly bullshit you into believing that it was raining and I was unable to do battle. The truth is, though, I was too scared and terrified to actually pull the trigger, as it were. I kept imagining an angry swarm coming out and me, my panic, my tumbling ass over appetite down the stairs... breaking my neck, my legs, my spine. I saw me in the Wal-Mart, handing out stickers and drooling on myself. That is not the life I want for myself, so I chickened out. There; I admit it.
And I caught a ton of grief from every living creature in this house -- both skin children and both fur children found a myriad of ways to express their displeasure at being banned from the door to the deck. So tonight was D-day, and FOW #1 even volunteered to go outside with me while I upped my kill count.
I positioned myself on the second step, and aimed. I pushed the trigger. Nothing.
I glanced at FOW #1, and he nodded encouragement at me. I took a deep breath and noticed the children who live next door were all standing, stock still in their yard, watching me.
I aimed again and pressed down. A stream of killer chemical feebly squirted forth as though the can had an en enlarged prostate. Two wasp sentries (I assume,) came out to investigate.
I, as promised, panicked. And my panic embarrassed and saved me, in equal measure. First, my panic gave me just enough of a shot of adrenaline that I was then able to firmly depress the trigger mechanism on the can. Along with what really was not superhuman strength, was a string of cusswords, "motherfuckers" being prominent among them.
I saturated the nest. I shot escaping insects out of the air. I, in effect, super-soaked my deck with something that probably could take the paint off of a space shuttle, but I didn't care. I was a squirting, swearing machine and three-quarters of the way through the can, I stopped and declared my victory, standing amongst the crunchy corpses littering my deck. And that's when I heard this, the following exchange from next door:
5 Year Old Boy: Mooo-ooom! The new neighbor lady's neat! She's killing stuff! It's like a movie out here!
Mom [from inside the house, but obviously approaching the door]: Really? What kind of movie? [Laughter]
5 Year Old Boy: You know, the kind that you and dad watch after we go to bed... she said, "Motherf --"
He never got to finish. The next stage direction would look something like this:
[Child disappears; Door slams.]
So, three weeks into living here and I am already the sharp-dressed, foul-mouthed, neighborhood murderess. I was actually sort of trying to fit in, too. Maybe I can explain at next week's block party; I'm taking nachos.