A Laugh Threatening Situation
Chapter 1 – Bees in Bumfuck
New here? Start at the beginning.
My parents moved to Bumfuck.
Some people also know the place as Gilmanton, New Hampshire.
Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.
Told you. Bumfuck.
That’s where my Dad bought a chunk of land on a large hill and planned to build a house on it.
The property was in and surrounded by dense forest. Before we could build anything we had to clearcut a road to the top, and then clear the land to build on.
Because it was in Bumfuck, there weren’t a lot of people around to help. So that meant my Dad taught me to use tools from a young age.
I could use a saw, hammer, drill, chisel, or any other hand tool well enough to be more of a help than a hindrance on a job site. And I had enough confidence, imagination, and scrap wood that it was often easier to make my own toys rather than wait for Santa to disappoint.
I learned to use a chainsaw before most kids learn to ride a bike. This on its own might have qualified as a near-death experience, but my
Dad was mostly safe and smart when it came to working with wood, and he taught me well.
We cut down tons of trees and the plan was to use them to build a log cabin where they once stood.
Once the main logs were cut, de-barked, and notched, I would use an axe and maul to split the offcuts and stack up cords of firewood. When the hard work was done, I would often climb on top of the pile and pretend it was a pirate ship sailing back to civilization.
We lived in our new cabin while we built the “real” house further up the hill.
The real house was an old post and beam structure that a nearby farmer no longer wanted on his land. It was so old that it was held together with mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs. No nails.
This meant that the house could technically be disassembled, loaded on my Dad’s old International Harvester truck, and reassembled on top of our hill.
It was a lot of work, but it was a glorious structure.
Clearing the land to reassemble it on was less glorious.
I remember long hot days spent chopping down trees, digging out stumps, cutting off branches, hacking at brush, and being equally annoyed and thrilled at the occasional discovery of a wild, thorny blackberry bush.
One day when we were piling things up for a bonfire, I picked up a log that turned out to be a beehive.
I got stung 287 times. There was no space on my 7-year-old body for even one more sting.
And no hospital nearby. No nothing nearby. We’re in Bumfuck, remember?
My Dad quickly carried me back to the partially built house and frantically picked dead bees out of my clothes, hair, and skin. Once most of the stingers were out, he dressed the sores with a poultice of water and baking soda.
I was so swollen I looked like a mummified baked potato.
For most people, a single bee sting is a bummer. And two-hundred-eighty-seven stings is unfathomable.
If you’re allergic, one sting can kill.
If you’re not, then the generally accepted theory is that anything over 10 stings per pound of body weight can be deadly.
As a 47lb kid, I was over 60% of the way there.
But it felt closer to a hundred.
Life Pro Tips
- If you see a beehive anywhere, leave it alone.
- If it absolutely has to be removed, get someone else to do it, and be far away when they do.
- If you’re being swarmed, don’t swat. When crushed, some bees, wasps, and hornets emit a hormone that alerts other nearby stingers to attack.
- Find out if you’re allergic before you get stung.