Nonfiction Memoir

Flying death monster from above

Meeting a hornet while driving a car

Beautiful day.


The year is 1999.

The season spring.

The sky is blue with a gentle breeze just outside my car window.

I’m driving 55 MPH, entering town.

Phenix: A Nice Place to Live.

I start to reduce the speed I drive:




As I let my window down.

From the darkest depths of Hell it comes. A Japanese bell hornet the size of a Boeing 747, hijacked by a terrorist, lands in my lap.

I look down. There it is, the kamikaze death monster from above resting atop my child bearing parts—a beast, no doubt, with an ineffable connection to fear rooted in my genetic code via transmission from my biological ancestors.

Bright yellow with a touch of red and black stripes adorning it like a common criminal. The hornet that is.

I’m wearing ripped jeans with holes in and around the crotch area. I know I can’t smash it with my hand. It’ll sting me (and my nether regions), so I do this crotch gyration maneuver. It looks like I’m humping the air inside the driver’s seat of my car.

“Go on,” I say to the hornet. “Go on, get.”

Like it’s some kind of mangy animal on my front porch at 6 AM.

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My eyes aren’t on the road anymore.

I think of the danger this hornet’s stinger could do to me (and my man parts).

The asian hornet is approximately two inches long with a three inch wingspan. Its face looks like something a homicidal maniac would design for a Halloween mask to terrorize the suburbs.

A single asian hornet can kill 40 bees in a minute. A few asian hornets can kill a hive of 30,000 bees in a matter of hours. They are brutal, genocidal monsters (albeit beneficial as well so as to not be Peter Benchley about it).

One year at the Phenix swimming pool, date: approximately 1990, there was a giant hornet’s nest perched in an area just outside the parking lot on Bobby Canada’s fence. We used to toss rocks at it, and when the hornets came darting out, we’d haul ass back into the pool area and jump in the water.

It was a game of sorts.

The game: see who doesn’t have to drink a half bottle of Benadryl today.

One of my friends slipped and busted his ass and didn’t make it back into the pool in time once and got lit up by a couple of hornets, before rolling his body over into the water, ducking his head down below the surface. But I digress.

Before I realize it, I’m off the side of the road, heading toward an embankment right as you reach the 35 MPH speed limit sign before Phenix elementary school. Preston Locke’s red truck is in view to my right.

Instinctively I pull the steering wheel back in time to avoid calamity, breathe a sigh of relief, and look down again.

The hornet is gone.

Another sigh of relief.

Then, a realization: is it still in the car with me? Where did the death monster go?

Photo: “Japanese Giant Hornet.” I, KENPEI CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons