Thursday, June 18, 2020


I have not reformed my virus time ways; I am still staying up late at night watching dumb TV and lolling in bed until 9 or 10 am.  When I finally do get up, I have to remember not to swing my legs out of bed and stand up, because the dog has taken to sleeping right where my feet go.  There are so many other square feet of floor he could choose to sleep on; I do not understand why he chooses to place himself directly in harm’s way.  I have stepped on him so many times.  He literally never learns. 

I love eating breakfast and drinking coffee while reading the Mercury News in my pajamas.  I also love living at the bottom of our long, shared driveway.  What I don’t love is having to trek up the long, shared driveway in my pajamas to get the newspaper.  Our neighborhood is full of early risers and energetic walkers and they all seem to congregate on the sidewalk and in the park at the top of my driveway.  Everyone is super-friendly, and I feel like the mayor of Pajamaville, waving to my subjects.  I am embarrassed that the neighbors with whom we share the driveway have seen me braless so many times, but I guess not embarrassed enough to get dressed.

One morning this week, after I had greeted everyone and was walking back down the driveway, I felt a pinching on the bottom of my arm.  I lifted my arm to look, and there hung a lifeless bee. I shrieked and dropped the paper and waved my arm around, providing a nice diversion for everyone.

As Mr. Bennett observes in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

This quote is fresh in my mind, as I spent the day after my oral surgery last week watching all six hours of the BBC Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.  (The one where Darcy is so overcome by his feelings for Elizabeth that he jumps into a pond fully dressed.  So hot.)

As I rubbed Benadryl cream onto my sting, I reflected on the last time I got a painful insect sting. Two of them, in fact.  It was in Croatia a few summers ago, back when we used to travel.

We were in Zagreb, walking through that big park in the city center, the one with the fountains and the outdoor bars and ice cream places (Zrinjevac Park, I just looked it up.). Suddenly a big, black wasp whizzed under the brim of my straw hat and stung me right in the neck.  I was deeply offended and also in a fair amount of pain.

European pharmacies are so much more comforting than the ones in the States.  The clerks wear lab coats and sensible hairdos and look like they know what they’re doing. (As opposed to the clerks in our local drugstore, who look like disheveled, disoriented preppers who just climbed out of the bunker.)

We found a Ljekarna and the nice lab-coated ladies clucked over my neck and sold me a tube of some ointment that actually helped quite a bit.  Then I got a strong to-go cocktail from a drinks truck in the park and we continued sight-seeing.

The next evening, on our way to an outdoor folk-dancing festival, we stopped and got pizza slices to eat as we walked.  As I was enjoying my slice, a wasp zoomed down from on high, making a direct line for me, and stung me right on the tender spot between two fingers.  That one hurt so much that I dropped my pizza and started crying, wailing “Why me?” until my family told me to stop being such a baby.

After an enjoyable three days in Zagreb, we drove down to Pag on the coast.  We checked into our AirBNB then Susan, Ellen, and I walked to the grocery.  As we left with our bags, the heavens opened, rain poured down, and lightning zinged everywhere.  We flagged a taxi and arrived back at our apartment, completely soaked.  And surprise! Our Croatian friend from California, Davorin, our inspiration for our trip, was there waiting to greet us.

Davorin noticed the big welt on my neck and I told him about the Zagreb wasps.  He examined my neck and told me the stinger was still in there, and began looking around for a knife to get it out.  I trust Davorin, but not that much, so I went and got a needle from my sewing kit instead.  He administered rakija inside and out (some in a shot glass, some wiped on my neck), and as the thunderstorm raged outside, he dug around and removed the stinger.

It was such a cinematic moment.  And Davorin was right, the welt went down pretty quickly after his impromptu clinic.

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