What happens when one flies up your sleeve while cruising? Bees will be bees.
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Jeff’s Bee Story
An apiologist would probably take me to task for lumping all stinger-laden flying insects into the same category. And I mean no disrespect to honey bees, which serve a vital purpose in our ecosystem. But, for the sake of sharing my “bee” story along with Louise’s bee story (note the lack of finger quotes on hers), the title of this short tale shall remain “Jeff’s Bee Story.”
There we were, on the bike, southbound out of Maryland. We had the kickstand up before the sun finished its first cup of coffee. Today would kick off a 10-day, 10-state ride – our first motorcycle vacation together, and we would do it on a 2006 Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom. Yep, a Sportster. Loaded down with only the things we thought we would need, we entered our second state, Virginia. The sun had finally joined us on our adventure, I had switched the lenses in my goggles from yellow to black, and we were enjoying the ride. All was good with the world, and I relished in the thought that this would be our lives for the next week-and-a-half.
Then it happened. Something stabbed into my right forearm, underneath the leather sleeve of my jacket. I knew this feeling from somewhere: I was being electrocuted – no that wasn’t it; a hypodermic needle was no doubt sticking out of my arm – well, maybe not; it had to be a wasp (or the like). I immediately reverted to my extensive training and experience with insect attacks and… okay, I don’t really have extensive training – but I do have some personal experience with stinging insects from bees and wasps to hornets and yellow jackets. I didn’t have time to identify the culprit by name, order or suborder; I had to act… now. So, I did what made the most sense at the time: I lowered my arm and begin to shake it violently. Great idea. This would certainly coax the invader out of my sleeve. Or not.
Louise was not comforted by my sudden arm shaking (most likely, because removing my right hand from the throttle caused the bike to slow down – and we weren’t even close to our breakfast stop in the southern part of the DelMarVa peninsula), so she asked me, “What are you doing?” Well, that was the gist of it, anyway.
I replied, “I’m being stung.”
“Pull over,” was the response from the back seat. There was probably an exclamation point on the end of that sentence. And maybe the word “idiot.” Can’t remember.
So I pulled over, put down the kickstand, and jumped off the bike. As I ripped off my jacket, I briefly saw something small and dark fall to the ground. It disappeared, so I assumed it had been swallowed back into the depths of hell from whence it came. Now it was time to deal with the aftermath of the attack, and here’s the takeaway from this story: if you have a choice, marry a nurse. Apparently, Louise had heard (or read) that toothpaste is suitable first aid for an insect sting. She was right. Within minutes, the pain and swelling had subsided and my arm smelled minty-fresh.
Thank you, my dear wife and riding partner. You saved my life. Now let’s ride on to Cape Charles, VA for breakfast.