I’m sure there’s a good reason for hornets, but it’s lost on me. I don’t care what ecological niche they fill. I don’t care if they control the population of the Spitting Potato Beetle. They’re useless. It’s like living around three dozen self-propelled psychotic hypodermic needles. When they sting my kid five times and make her swell up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloon, they have made an enemy. You’ll recall that they bit Gnat five times a few weeks ago? Right.

What are you going to do? my wife asked. There’s a huge nest in her playhouse.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? We move. Caulk all the windows until the van arrives, put netting over the bedroom doors. Here’s a flame thrower. You man the first shift.

My wife gave that expression that says she considered that response to be the practice frame.

“I’ll get some anti-hornet stuff, then. To leave for the people who buy the house.” Pause. “Oh, all right.”

So I bought a can of something – Wasp-B-Gon or RAID Wasp & Hornet Death Sauce or Off! Insect Infuriator. Whatever it was called, it was essentially poison under pressure. “Wait until morning or evening, when the wasps will be less active,” said the can. It was, of course, high noon. Ah well. I peered into her playhouse, and saw a dozen of the evil things tending a nest. Now or never. I fired. My aim, shall we say, was not exactly William Tell quality, and I compounded my error by dropping the can. This is akin to picking up a shotgun, walking drunk into a biker bar, shouting YOU GUYS ARE ALL SUCH FLAMIN’ FAGS then tripping over a chair. You lose the element of surprise, to put it mildly. But before the bugs could assemble a plan of action, I picked up the can and emptied the contents, Pvt. Hudson style. Oh yeah? You want some of this? Oh yeah? How ‘bout some more? Oh yeah? They dropped dead on the spot.

Then I looked at the warnings: KILLS ANYTHING ALIVE, more or less. If you get some on your skin, you should immediately put on your best suit because rigor mortis will set in so fast the morticians won’t be able to dress you without getting out the bonesaws. Oh great. I ran inside, showered, burned the clothes, called the realtor – no. Not yet. I realized that I’d sprayed Gnat’s playhouse with a gallon of toxic poison, and unless I rented a backhoe to remove all the dirt six feet in all directions and ten feet down, she would expire in a puff of rancid smoke the minute she entered the playhouse. Next best thing: I hosed it down for half an hour, then forbid her to play there for a week. It’s the neighborhood Chernobyl.

Two conclusions: 1. Next time I’m just going throw the can at the hive and hope I crush them all. 2. I will actually be happy when the wasps return to her playhouse, because it will mean it’s no longer poisonous. DADDEE! I GOT STUNG!

Good! So it’s safe, then.

Wall to wall, this one; pediatrician’s in the morning, a meeting with the boss this afternoon (no childcare available; had to take Gnat to the office) then Target (reasons to follow) then Southdale to fill up the hours between four and five, then – because my wife’s at her monthly banco hen-fest, Chuck E. Fargin’ Cheese, followed by bath, piano practice, then music workbooks while I took out the garbage & recycling and placated the dog, who has dinner backed up about three meters in his intestines and deeply desires the walk he will not get. That brings us to now, nine o’clock; she’s watching a movie. I will use this time to write next Tuesday’s column, which I’d normally do Friday morning – but! I am a helper at the Friday morning playroom, and it’s music class after that. Today I bought a nice vase – about 18 inches tall, six inches around. Some day I might use it for flowers. Tomorrow night I will fill it with Maker’s Mark.

Hey, a guy deserves a drink now and then.

Back if I finish the column anytime soon. It’s 9:08. Pray for me.

Okay. It’s 10:37. Column’s done, edited, and sent to copy desk; made two lunches for tomorrow; read a book, did the evening prayers (“no, we don’t thank God for our bottoms. Just our bodies in general.”) Now it’s time to get out the small vase and find some ice . . .


Man. What a wonderful day. I am the luckiest man on earth.

Before the doctor’s visit she asked if she’d get a shot. “Possibly,” I said.

Oh, I don’t want a shot.

I know, hon. No one does. But it’s quick. One-two, and it’s done. Say it: one-two.

One two and it’s gonna hurt.

But only for one, and it’s done by two. Try it: one two.

(Sullenly) One, two.

Hey – if you get a shot, we can go to Target and get a My Little Pony.

REALLY? She ran over to her ponies and did a head count. Then I’d have eleven!

En route, she said “my stomach’s kinda nervous about shots.” I said I understood, but remember: one-two, Pony.

Oh yeah.

The doctor entered the room with the usual gust of cheer. “Good news, Natalie!” he said. “No shots today.”

Her face fell.

I told her she could have a Pony anyway, and she perked right up.

Back home, lunch, downtown, Target. They had a sale: Coke Products, 3 for $6. I bought diet Coke with Lemon, Diet Coke with Lime, and Tab. I will tire of Tab soon, I suppose, but for now I enjoy the archaic taste of genuine saccharine, and I like that old font in my fridge. (At the blogger party last month, King Banion opened my fridge and asked “does it always look like this?” It does. I have a shelf devoted to sodas, and every day they get replentished so there’s always a full assortment. Do all the labels face the same way? What do you think?) When I got to the checkout, the 12 packs scanned @ $3.99. I lodged a complaint. The clerk was at sixes and sevens, unsure what to do. “Perhaps you could request a price check?” said the young woman in line behind me. “If it said Coke Products, well, those are Coke Products.” I repeat: said the young women in the line behind me. I live among good and decent folk, sweet and true. A manager was consulted. He said the discount applied only to the low-carb Coke, which I gathered was selling like laminated pig feces, but he admitted that he wording was unclear: apply the discount. The sale price was fake, but accurate.

Then Southdale to kill time. I lost all energy and sense of purpose at Crate and Barrel; coffee please. COFFEE PLEASE. So we sat in the food court, me with my coffee, Gnat with her purified organic evaporated cane-sugar lemonaide. “This is just the best day ever,” she said. She said that a lot today.

Bought a shirt at Eddie Bauer. Probably indistinguishable from similar garments at other stores, but it has that casual middle-aged confident tool-using man vibe I prefer in my shirts. Then the soap store, where I investigated new frontiers in home aromas. When you have a kid and a dog, certain areas of your house can get funky; there’s a faint bar-rag old-milk wet-fur hogo hanging around the family room, and it cannot be banished with cleaners or sprays. I bought a plug-in scent disseminator that issues hints of cleaved pears. We’ll see. Also bought a candle that gives off the scent of firewood, and I think it says something about the rarified and idle nature of my lucky life when I say “I’m really looking forward to seeing how it smells when I light it.” But I am. And this from a guy whose apartment once smelled like a Budweiser Clydesdale lost bladder control. Well, marriage will do that to you.

Then Chuck E. Cheese’s. The less said the better.

Home; work. As it turned out I wrote too much – by the time I finished banging out the column I had 500 words too many, so I just shaved off the opening and stuck it at the top of the Bleat. Then wrote this. And now I am done.

Oh: the graphic above is taken from a rootbeer logo. Dad's, as it turns out. Wonder how it mixes with bourbon.


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