Sunday, June 1, 2008

The ten stupid things a kid will do - Number 9: Smoke bombs and beehives. Water hoses and beehives. Oh, the heck with it! Just torch the sucker!

It was as big as a car!

The last days, or is it daze, of school were always the most rememberable. Minds ticked down the minutes when summer vacation would start. Bodies fidgeted in seats, ready for the freedom from the stifling atmosphere of educated adults. Acting as if on sugar highs, kids bounced heads against bus seats and each other wanting to rush crazily down driveways and into houses so they could get back to what was most important to their lives: getting to the next level of video games set on pause that morning as Nintendo boxes started to overheat.

I was not one of those excited kids.

Sure, I had an old-time Nintendo considered the hottest new thing next to Bart Simpson T-shirts back then. And I ROCKED at playing those games! Even my older brother and sister bowed their heads in humbleness to the QUEEN of the game box. Unfortunately, this queen was always without an entourage to defend her when trying to reach the safety of the front door after school.

The besiegers must not have known I was a queen, even though I shouted it at their hive every single day. "I am QUEEN of the all-mighty NINTENDO! Let me pass in safety or you will regret it. Please? Pretty, pretty, please with sugar on top? I have to practice my skills to retain my rulership. I can’t fall behind or Susie in my art class will reach the next level of ‘Legend of Zelda’ before I do."

The besiegers only buzzed even louder around my head, unimpressed with my pleas. They had a queen of their own, although I had no idea on what level of the video game she was playing at, as they zipped past me in warning. The front door was more than four yards away as I took refuge near the grapevines, stomach gurgling for my afternoon snack and with the grapes not ripe yet to eat. After a loud sigh, I laid down on my belly and placed the backpack on top of my head in protection. Then I slithered through the overgrown grass toward the patio. Two yards away. Three feet.

I made it to the door as I bounced to feet and threw it open to rush inside. I had no stingers in me this time.

This thing was as big as a refrigerator!

Because we lived in a rural area, there were many trees on the property. Apple trees. Crab apple trees. Pear trees. Peach trees. Plum trees (yes, plums grow on trees.) Maple trees . . . oak trees . . . locust trees. We had every kind of tree, even pines.

Huge pines. Giagantor pines. Godzilla pines. Pines longer than the house and twice as wide as my sister is tall (she is close to 6 feet). They reached up to the sky to punch holes into dark clouds releasing the rain they would drink to become even taller.

In one of these pines was a beehive. Normally, this was something that would not have caused any batting of eyelashes from this rural girl. But, man, those insects must have been fed steroid-laced honey while young because these things were overactive! And their queen was something else. Maybe one of the drones could have introduced her to some birth control because there had to be a bajillion of her offspring buzzing about the front yard. It became an obstacle course to navigate a way to the house. Even my brother was getting fed up with them when trying to mow the yard. This was a rare time when both my brother and I agreed on one topic.

Those bees were dangerous!

Okay, okay. The hive was as big as a night-stand dresser. I will even pinky-swear that this is the truth. Small children could curl inside and take naps in it. Honest!

We tried everything. Bug sprays did not work because we could not get close enough to the thing to get the poison inside, and spraying the liquid from a distance just meant hitting a screen of buzzing workers, who would alert the rest of the hive to our attack. We tried smoke bombs, but those were the cheap dime-store buys that fizzled out two seconds after we lit them. We tried using the water hose to blast the bees into oblivion. But the outdoor spigot was on the OTHER side of the house and the garden hose was not long enough.

We ran out of ideas. I had to go out the back door and cut across the upper field to get to the driveway so I could get to the school bus, and my brother refused to mow the grass. My parents tried to bribe me to do the chore. I had to inform them that they cannot bribe a Queen of Nintendo in a situation where lives could be in danger. So my father, who could not understand our recalcitrance, did the grass mowing himself.

He got stung.

Yet this time my thrifty father would not untie his purse strings to shell out money for a professional bee extractor or pest exterminator. Nope. He had a better idea. He would set fire to the hive.

Correction. He would use one of his kids to go and set fire to the hive. Guess who the lucky candidate was? Yep. Her royal highness.

I am not going to go into any long explanation about how I did it. I will just give you a brief list of the things my father allowed me to use to get the job done: Kindling. Old newspaper. Lighter fluid. A large fan. An acetylene torch.

Yes, a twelve-year-old girl got a chance to turn into a professional arsonist. Still, I did get the job done without lighting the Queen on fire.

Oh, the stupid things a kid can do when parents can be so cheap.

Disclaimer: Yeah, you knew this was coming. Don't let your kids play with any incendiary device - i.e. acetylene torches!

*Note: Before you ask if this story is true, it is. My father allowed me to use the torch. He worked in a steel mill as a welder, so I guess it didn't seem all that strange to him to let his daughter use one.


  1. Loved this story Mlh! My life growing up was really boring compared to yours. :)

  2. Holy crap!

    Keep those things which bee's call home, away from me. I am resolved to never be stung this summer Michelle. I'm bringing in the big guns (insect repel!)

    MTV movie awards tonight! Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Leung for best kiss!

  3. Sandra,

    What I have always found interesting is that when I was a kid, I believed my life was the dullest thing since dry toast. But now that I look back, I can say "Wow!"


    I just read an article in my newspaper about a company that is coming out with clothing that has bug repellant right into the fibers.

    I figured you would vote for the Radcliffe/Leung kiss-off.

  4. Oh, I have added a new feature in the sidebar. News about books, authors, and the publishing industry in general. Check it out!


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