“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” – Muhammad Ali
Or, in this case, like a wasp!
In my last column I wrote about being stung by a scorpion. That story brought another vivid memory to mind which involved my Gedo, my cousin, myself and a wasp.
My Gedo was very allergic to wasp stings, so he always carried a little tin in his shirt box which contained pills that counteracted his severe reactions. Over the years, particularly after a bad incident, he had become quite fearful whenever a wasp flew within a few feet of him. The entire family was well-aware of his allergy and were always on the lookout for possible threats.
On a warm summer day my cousin and I were accompanying Gedo to town. There we were bouncing away in the front seat of the 1950 Chevy – no seatbelts in those days and kids had the luxury of riding in the front seat. Oh yes, and no AC, so the windows were rolled down (no power windows yet) so we could enjoy a nice breeze.
We had just turned onto the highway and were only a short distance from town when our leisurely drive turned into a wild roller coaster ride. It was Gedo’s worst nightmare when he spied a wasp buzzing on the inside of the front windshield. The much-feared insect must have flown in through the open windows when we stopped before proceeding onto the highway.
In a great panic Gedo started to yell in Ukrainian, “Oca! Oca!” (meaning Wasp! Wasp!), quickly followed by, “Bay! Bay!” (meaning Hit it! Hit it!). So my cousin and I started wildly swatting at that wasp with anything we could find. Our frenzied swipes only served to agitate that wasp causing it to now zoom in frantic, angry circles which did nothing to calm Gedo down. Now we had two distressed victims in the car.
Finally one of us managed to deliver a whack that ended the threat. I mean with all that swatting we were bound to hit something sooner or later. However, not before Gedo, who was watching the wasp and not the road, managed to veer across the oncoming lane, down into the opposite ditch, back up through the wrong lane and onto the right side of the road. Thank goodness the ditch had a gentle slope and there was no other traffic at that moment or I might not be chuckling over the incident now.
Whenever I see the popular Stay Calm posters today, I want to add my own version: Stay Calm and Swat Away!