Attack of the one-inch wasp

The super composed and masculine way I reacted to a tiny bug

lf17-TomPollard-RDizon

Fear is logical. The world is full of danger, and a raw instinct to avoid biological and environment perils is crucial to our continued circadian survival.

It can also be illogical. And in four-year-olds, it can be exceptionally illogical.

The main problem is that four-year-olds lack proper familiarity with fear to understand what it should be applied to. When I was four, my fears included pineapples, stepping on cracks and Randall from “Monsters Inc.” Vicious killer insects, however, were not included on my list of things to avoid. Why would they be? Bees were fuzzy and wasps were one of my favorite colors, so my threat detection software placed them into the same category as baby rabbits and yellow crayons. As you can imagine, my lack of apprehension soon led to tragedy.

Looking back, the bee in my grandparent’s garden made it abundantly clear it wasn’t interested in receiving a hug from a sweaty four-year-old. It buzzed irritably and tried to flit away from my pudgy grasp. When I finally managed to brush against the furious creepy-crawly, I of course was stung. After my grandparents removed the stinger and put ice on my throbbing forearm, I recall spending the next tearful half-hour asking over and over why the bee didn’t want to be my friend. They first tried to comfort me by saying the insect would soon die without its stinger — as if knowing my attacker would soon perish would fill me with some vengeful pleasure — but instead, I only cried harder. My innocent worldview had been shattered forever.

My experience was unsurprisingly enough to instill in my psyche a lifelong fear of all stinging insects. Even to this day, the buzzing of something as harmless as a fly can set me on edge. Still, a fear of aggressive pests is somewhat logical. As a result, I’d like to think that my modern threat categorization process is more refined than when I was a four-year-old. In all honesty, however, I wonder if much has changed.

Exhibit A — a few weeks ago.

An essay. The typical seven-page affair and an important part of my final grade. Without question, something to be fearful of. Instead of treating it with the level severity I would give even to a tiny insect, however, I completely blew it off. Even as the deadline approached, I struggled to drum up even an ounce of fear of the future. This wasn’t due to lack of experience, either. Procrastinating is an old enemy of mine, and yet no matter how many times ignoring a deadline hurts me, I continue to repeat past mistakes. Sure, when the deadline eventually arrives I go into panic mode and promise I’ll put off my work again, but in the end, the fear matters no more than it did when I was an irrational four-year-old.

Even when the deadline was just two days away, I remained totally unafraid. Sure, a panicked voice flared up in some part of my lizard brain rerunning all the times I’d done something like this before, but the rest of my consciousness remained unperturbed. I’d get to it when I got to it. No rush. In a lethargic state, I watched Netflix in bed until I eventually got the notion to take a long shower. After all, I wasn’t in a hurry. Little did I know that lurking behind the shower curtain was a monster straight out of my nightmares.

A tiny, one-inch wasp.                                      

Although my childhood trauma was centered on bees, wasps are the thing I truly fear. They’re like if after bees were created, someone decided they weren’t scary enough on their own, so everything about them was jacked up to horrifying levels. Wasps are aggressive, armored demons with the capacity to sting to their heart’s content. So, when one landed on me in the shower, I reacted in a super composed and masculine way.

After letting out the bloodcurdling scream, I flailed my arms and fell face-first onto the floor. Wrapping a towel around me, I armed-crawled out from under the shower curtain and ran out of the bathroom. By the time I made it back to my dorm, my heart was pounding like I had just escaped a murder. Then — in spite of the situation — I started laughing. In that moment, I realized that essays which control my success as a student fail to frighten me as much as miniscule bugs.

I still have trouble doing my essays on time. Even with my realization, I didn’t immediately start typing. My fears remain illogical. But recently, whenever I start to procrastinate, I remind myself if I’m scared of a tiny bug, I should also be able to unearth some fear over my own future.

related stories