Monday, August 16, 2010


You don't have to be familiar with organized football to understand that all decent coaches, (like MIKE85), from pee-wees to pros, ask this question immediately at halftime and after each game...Is anybody injured?

Unfortunately, there is an unwritten code that discourages players from coming forward. The main reasons are: stupidity, fear and vanity.

STUPIDITY - Sometimes, individuals don't realize that without the proper attention a simple problem can become quite complicated.

FEAR - Individuals are afraid to lose precious playing time.

VANITY - Due to their bravado, individuals think the team can't manage without them. Or, they don't want to come-off as weak to coaches, teammates and supporters.

Sometimes when a team is struggling and the coach is full of bluster, an individual is apt to remain quiet to avoid becoming the focus of scorn. That is what happened to me.

In the fall of 1972, when I was a senior in high school, I was the offensive left guard of the Canarsie Chiefs. We expected a big year but finished 4 and 4. At a point in the season when we still thought we were destined for greatness, we visited the Seahorses of Far Rockaway High. Despite the non-threatening sound of their nickname, they slaughtered us 38-12. It was even more bleak at halftime when we trotted off trailing 26-0.


At Far Rockaway's field, our bench was on the far sideline. That meant we had to cross the field to get the locker room. Smack dab in the middle of center stage, I felt a vibration under my jersey, near my armpit. Before I could react, an incredible sharp pain exploded into the soft, sensitive skin on the back side of my bicep. I was stung by a bee.

The initial pain made me stop in my tracks. I didn't want to be spotlighted, standing alone, licking my wound on the fifty-yard line, so I endured the agony and lumbered along, in the hope that it would go away.THERE ARE OVER 20,000 SPECIES OF BEES. MANY OF WHICH I NEVER HEARD OF INCLUDING THE MUD-DAUBER, (above). THEREFORE, I'LL NEVER KNOW IF THE CULPRIT WHO GOT ME WAS A BUMBLE-BEE, HORNET, YELLOW-JACKET OR WASP.

In the locker room, my frustrated teammates, cursed, slammed lockers and accused each other of ineptitude. Our furious coach came in and glossed over the hidden injury issue by saying, "Nobody tried hard enough to get hurt out there...RIGHT!" That was not what I wanted to hear. A few seconds later, he was into a full-blown rant so this was not the time for me to stand up and say, "I chipped a fingernail, my cup is chaffing me or...I got stung by a bee." (Even if I fluffed-up the sting's urgency by saying; I'm not sure if I'm allergic or it was a giant, disease infested, killer bee from South America or even though I smooshed the fuzzy bastard in an extremely manly way, it still bit me first).

During the head coach's maniacal ravings, my acute pain put me on the verge of hallucination. Then to make matters worse, the torture got parlayed with a pronounced throbbing. When our fearless leader's screaming was over, I slithered to the men's room. I sat on a commode and applied a cold compress of wet paper towels. It still felt like a doctor's needle had snapped off inside me, but somehow, I got a good deal of relief. When I came out of the stall, one of the assistant coaches shivered the bathroom door with a startling thud. He glared at me. In an unsympathetic manner he snarled, "You okay, or what?" To avoid coming off like a wus, I instinctively said something just as embarrassing, "Um, uh...I had the runs." He shook his head and snorted in a heavy Brooklyn accent, "Figgiz!"

That bee attack disproves the old notion that a bee only stings unless its provoked. To support that idea, in 1996, I was innocently pushing my son Andrew's stroller into the Cape May Zoo when I got stung on the tip of my left index finger. I never saw it coming and pain was excruciating. But my football game sting experience paid-off because, I iced my little wound and survived without crying like an eleven-year old girl. Nevertheless, most bee attacks are due to disturbing them.

I found that to be true in 2002 when I accidentally provoked a whole hive. I was lucky to get out with only one sting. I was mowing the lawn (weeds) in my backyard. I was in my own world humming Merv Griffin's musical hit, "I'VE GOT A LOVELY BUNCH OF COCONUTS." Suddenly, I felt the familiar sensation of a bee sting on my calf. In the next split second, I heard a loud buzzing and turned around. It was a sight to behold, thousands of airborne bees flying up, out of a hole in the ground. Apparently, the mower ripped the loose flap of sod that was camouflaging their entrance. In no time, there were so many bees in front of me that the fat trunk of an adjacent tree was obscured.I DON'T KNOW WHY THIS SCHMUCK IS POSING WITH ALL THESE BEES ON HIM. BUT I KNOW IF I DIDN'T RETREAT FAST, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME.

My subsequent investigation led me to Raid's flying insect poison...with a squirting range of ten feet. I was also informed that at dusk, bees are dormant and less likely to see me coming. But the bug-a-boo was, the underground hive was a deep, nine-inch wide cave. That meant that the squirting capacity of this product was useless unless I stuck my hand, down into the hole.

I could see there was not much of an upside to this mission. Still, I resisted the cost of an exterminator. I armed myself to the teeth and waited till nobody was home. This way, I could minimize the possibility of the omnipresent Paparazzi or my family from publicizing my shame... 600 stings later. I donned as much protective clothing I could muster. In fact, if I had a pith helmet, I would have looked like Bwana, (The Great White Bee Hunter).

I held my breath as I approached ground zero. I kept waiting for my internal defense mechanism to scream; abort, abort. But those orders never came. I was green-lighted all the way. Then one bee flew out and scouted the area.


I stuck my hand into their subterranean lair and blasted the Raid into the black void. I had the mindset to run but the bees never counter-attacked. The effect was spontaneous as a small group tried to limp and stagger out but they too, soon expired. My ten second cluster bombing rivaled Nagasaki. I then hustled to a large pile of mud that I prepared. Then like a mason slinging mortar, I sealed the entire shaft.

The next summer, the front of my house was invaded. Twelve feet up, I spotted a large hive above my front door. This was a more difficult enterprise for two reasons. For one, I would need a ladder and this operation would not be behind closed doors.

I waited again till dusk and luckily no neighbors were lurking. But no sooner did I take the ladder from the garage that my Andrew showed up with a bunch of kids. Then some jerk from up the street wandered over with his yenta wife. I should have put up a lemonade stand, sold tickets and alerted the media because other gawkers materialized from out of nowhere. Even strangers driving by, stopped to watch the show.

I got as high as the second rung of the shaky ladder, (I'm not certain if the bolts needed to be tightened or if it was my performance anxiety that had me quivering). That's when I realized that most NASCAR fans go to see the crashes and when suicidal people contemplate jumping off high buildings, most of the morons below inwardly want the poor sap to jump.

Even though I'm not afraid of heights, on the third rung I stopped. I decided there was no way I was going to let myself fall off that stupid thing. At the same time, two bees came out of the hive. It was time for me to crap or get off the pot. I tried hard to keep my aerosol weapon steady as I took aim. I know I should have been closer but I put my faith in Raid's claim that its ten-foot spraying capacity wasn't an exaggeration...because, I was relying on every inch of it.

Several more bees came out to investigate as my bomb-bay doors opened. My squirt was a high arc that touched down as a direct hit. Incredibly, it started raining dead bees immediately. Before I got off the ladder, the hive detached from the wall and crashed to the pavement. I bet two hundred victims were either dead or spasming, prior to croaking on my welcome mat.

Even though nobody cheered...not even Andrew, I knew a hero when I saw one and gave myself a mental high-five.

This past week on the 6th of August, we had the one thing that's worse than bees OUTSIDE your house. Like the anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, (exactly two months earlier), we had a B-Day in our living room. The really odd thing is...all the bees were already dead.

That day, I spotted two and the next day, one more. On the 10th, I found three and yesterday seven. Today's count so far is one. But for the life of me, I can't see where they are coming from. Even more weird, I never see them alive. So NOW, I'm wondering if I should open up the proverbial can of worms and share this mystery with my wife or should I just mind my own bees wax?


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve - Of course I remember that Far Rockaway game, I remember all the games we played. Keep up the good work, I always enjoy reading your stories. --- COACHMIKE85

Anonymous said...

In my old house the bees were coming in through a hole in the window frame. They made some sort of a hive inside the wall and a few made their way into the house and soon died. Another thing. All the years I played football, from pee wees to high school and I don't have one picture of myself in uniform. Wish I did. ---The Donald.

Anonymous said...

You've been stung by so many bees. Lucky for me I never was. I'll have to ask Tom because, I don't remember him ever getting stung either. - M of M&T