According to my son, the biology major, what I call a bark beetle is actually a big, ugly Sawyer beetle with long black antennas. Like I care what he says; they’ve always been bark beetles to …
According to my son, the biology major, what I call a bark beetle is actually a big, ugly Sawyer beetle with long black antennas. Like I care what he says; they’ve always been bark beetles to me.
A few weeks back, Gar and I were camping and had hiked, fished and sat in the sun by the lake. On Saturday night, I was cleaning marshmallow off a hotdog stick in the campfire, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a buzzing bark beetle the size of a B-52, coming in fast for a landing on my face. Don’t listen to those who say these insects are clumsy, slow fliers. I’ve been on the radar of these guided missiles, thus, I am in the know.
I rose up and stood my ground; I had to since I brag non-stop about how brave I am. Then I began hand-to-hand combat, slicing the air with my trusty hotdog stick sword. The beetle wasn’t intimidated and seemed not to notice how skillfully I could maneuver a weapon, nor was he deterred even the slightest by my cat-like reflexes. In fact, he not only didn’t slow up, he caught another gear and picked up the pace. I split the air with quite a sharp tongue-lashing to no avail.
With my choices dwindling, I decided to forgo my façade of fearlessness and began to sprint backward. This lasted but for a moment because, as we could all agree, I’m no sprinter. I was upright … until I wasn’t, and then I was tumbling backwards in the rocks and letting out a high-pitched yelp.
Who I thought would be my knight in shining armor, came quickly, gathering me up. It wasn’t Gar the gallant rescuer, but Gar, the comic, who never saw it happen, so wouldn’t know, and should just shut it, but instead, chortlingly stated, “I’m not sure you were ever actually running. I’m thinking it was more backpedaling, then flailing, floundering, falling and flopping.”
Giving him a cold stare, I asked the witty know it all, “Really, in that order?” He saved himself a later payback by softening his stance with, “You’re not a screamer so I knew something was up.” (This was a puzzling statement since I yell at him morning, noon and night. Perhaps he’d witnessed my agile stick wielding and was staying on my good side.)
He surveyed my hand, back and leg, all of which I’d somehow managed to glob marshmallow goo onto. Going inside the RV, I began cleaning debris off myself as my hand instantly puffed with quite an amazing bloated appearance. Gar watched me, thinking (him, not me, let’s not start a rumor I might have ever had a thought). Then, getting the baseball out of the cupboard, he placed it in my hand, stuffed Kleenexes around my wrist and, folding a multi-stack of paper plates around it and wrapped the whole shebang with stretchy gauze from the first aid kit. I swallowed 800 mg of ibuprofen, finished doing the supper dishes and we snuggled me in bed with puffy pillows.
After breakfast the next morning, we battened down the hatches and while Gar drove Bertha, I drove the truck home. After unloading, I told Gar I needed a better story. Skeptically, he frowned and asked, “What are you gonna say?” I smiled mischievously.
Monday morning, still in my clever man’s splint, we went for a check-up. The nurse took my blood pressure and asked what happened. I shrugged nonchalantly, “Oh, I crossed a snow bridge and went down a crevasse.” Looking stricken and raising her voice in alarm, she gasped, “Wow, how’d you get out?”
Uh, I hadn’t thought of that. Thankfully, just then the doctor strode in, and while he admired Gar’s handiwork, he sent me for an X-ray which revealed broken bones. As he splinted it, saying I had to wait for a cast, he asked how I’d done it. Without hesitation, I answered, “I was free-climbing a sheer rock face and went over a ledge with a 30 foot drop.”
The nurse quickly cut her eyes to Gar for confirmation, but he was examining his cuticles. Her head swiveled back to me and without smiling I said, “Look, I’m basically a triathlete: This summer I rode bulls, raced motorcycles and once had to run from a bear.”
The doctor snidely smirked, “I thought we weren’t supposed to run from bears.”
Knowingly, I countered, “Well, that depends on how fast you are — maybe you shouldn’t.”