I've been spending my mornings on my grandparents lawn.
...Doing yard work! What were you even thinking just now? The fact of the fact is Grandma and Grandpa Blenman aren't quite as spry as they used to be. They're both fighting this of course. Grandpa gives me thorough, detailed instructions for weeding (which I purposely mess up so he can redirect me). Grandma gives me the task of pulling up dead vines and tries to sneak in moments of doing it herself. After pruning a tree I was cutting branches down small enough to fit in a garbage can and both grandparents were sitting in the shade and telling me, "No! Cut them shorter! Shorter! -That's too short. They don't have to be that short! -No, Keith. Shorter!"
Something tells me they were laughing behind my back with that one...
It's only when I get one of them alone that they both quietly confess, "I just hate how helpless I've become."
Not that they have to say it. My grandfather has this little battle with himself where he tries walking without his cane. He can go short, wobbly distances. And you can see the fatigue and stress of it in his eyes. He always returns to the cane. And I always want to but absolutely will not ask if that moment of walking unsupported left him with a feeling of victory or defeat. His own personal revolution against his age, made ten steps at a time.
Last year when I was helping around the house they'd show me something they wanted done and leave me to it. This year they're looming over me a little. They're watching me work. Not that they don't trust me to get the job done. I'm actually pretty sure that either I'm the entertainment or they're staring longingly at the things they can't do themselves. And I'm leaning toward the latter because of how often they remind me of it.
"I'd help you replant those but if I bend down there's a good chance I won't get up."
"I used to shovel dirt like that all day. Dirt and rocks."
"The thing about old age is... ... ..." *nap*
And the thing of it is, I'm fat. I'm out of shape. My version of a gym membership involves stealing a workout DVD from my brother's house, using it twice, and then forgetting I have it until somebody presents me with a bill that I laugh off.
"Ha! What are you gonna do? Hunt me down with all your incredibly fit and attractive personal trainers? Make me burn a few calories running from them? Essentially get more out of your services?"
No. Really. They'd catch me. I'm in horrible shape. If you guys were to poke me in the belly I'd totally giggle like the Pillbury Dough Boy. And then your hand would get stuck in all the morbid obesity. And my workout would consist of you, screaming, pulling and kicking at me, forcing my belly to jiggle. And I only point this out because my grandparents are watching me, this massive and miserable oaf, lumber about their yard, sweating profusely and picking up sticks. And their reaction to this -if not simply enjoying the hypnotic lava lamp-ness of my gut- is more likely longing and wishful thinking.
Watching manual labor is like porn for old people. Unfortunately when they watch me it's the equivalent of that VHS quality amateur insect hentai some friend of a friend of yours promises he was just joking about and isn't really into. "It'll get the job done. Just don't let anybody know what's doing the job."
...Wow. This post changed tones fast.
Anyway, this morning I was hosing down the front lawn with a little application of Ortho weed killer. One of those cool things that attaches on the end of your hose and you get to think, "Well, the liquid's going down so it very well could be working."
If it doesn't work, I do hope my grandpa blames the product over my ability to apply it. I mean, I really can't speak for the quality of weed killers from the Ortho company, but I do know for all my grandpa's physical struggles, his mind is still going strong. He's not one of those grandfathers who you can say stuff to like, "Oh, silly Grandpa. That was Danny who helped you with the weeding. I was at the drive-in or banker's office or church or whatever it is you think people my age do in their free time."
No, really. I'm sure it'll work fine.
So I'm going up and down the lawn in Grandpa's instructed grid like pattern. Spray forward. Spray back. Two steps left. Spray forward. Spray back. Two steps left. Spray forward. Spray back. Two steps right- "No, Keith! Left!" (Juuuuuust checking)-Four steps left. Spray forward. Spray back. Two steps left... When suddenly a bee landed my hand.
Or so I thought.
Rather, it was two bees. And the worker bee was mounting his queen.
Now, they say when a bee lands on you, if you don't want to get stung, the absolute best thing to do is freeze. Don't agitate it. Don't give it a reason to sting you. And absolutely do not kill it. We're working as hard as we can to save the bees (and with these links you can donate to helping bees).
So I absolutely didn't want to disturb the bees. We need them. We need their queens making more bees. We need our honey, damn it! Never mind just how aggravated people (and I assume other species) get when their coitus is interrupted. So in a lot of ways I suppose I should've been honored. It's one thing to give money, but it's something entirely different to be an active participant in bee breeding. For the rest of my life, whenever somebody asks if I've ever done anything to save the bees, I can now proudly say, "Actually, I was used as a mattress for bee breeding one time. What have you done?"
And this was actually a very educational moment. We've all heard about the birds and bees, but how many people really witness it? I was just the other day having a conversation about how sheltered I am and not at all with nature. And here I was, being used as a fuck stop for insects. Not everybody does that in life, you know. Not everybody can say, "Yeah. Yeah. I know aaallllllllllllll about the bees."
But here's the thing. It wasn't just a brief little second of my day. These bees were going at it. The queen had landed and the worker was hard at work. And I was kind of terrified to move. I mean, I've been stung before, and it sucks but it's not the end of the world. But it just wouldn't mean a slightly worse day for me. For the worker bee, his junk gets ripped off at the end of the intercourse and he dies. And for the queen, the future of the colony is at stake. She doesn't come home and the hive's entire future is screwed. And who knows how many peanut butter and honey sandwiches are left in my future?
So the stakes were about as high as I could inflate them. I was stuck here, watching bees screw on my hand. And after a minute my Grandpa calls over from his chair, "Why'd you stop?"
"Sorry, Grandpa! I've got a... well... There's a bee on me!" Technically I wasn't lying. Only one bee was on me. The other was on his queen.
"Oh yeah? Is it pretty big?"
"...Well I- ...I can't rightly tell." And right about then I saw the worker bees legs move on the queen's thorax. And it occurred to me that he totally just spanked the queen. So to my grandfather, "It looks pretty aggressive though."
And I'm sure some of you are asking how long it possibly could've lasted. And to my absolute amazement they were going for well over a minute. I'm actually gauging it closer to two minutes. Long enough that I could get bored and start sending pictures of it to my girlfriend.
They hadn't even stopped either. Grandpa was getting impatient so I decided to see if I could just work around them. So I got back to my spraying forward, spraying back, two steps left routine -as the bees did the same- and after a few steps the queen eventually flew off, the worker still going strong as far as I could tell.
So here's the educational part. Evidently bees last longer than some people. If you check that link, bees last way longer than your average Alaskan. There are human beings out there with less exciting love lives than bees. And not just in the, "Baby! I'm going to screw you to death!" kinda way. Little bugs are totally showing mammals up here.
Don't get me wrong. As fun as it is to tease others over stamina, I was totally dominated by another species today. I'd say that's actually the most I've ever been dominated in my entire life. I mean, I've lost fights. I've had the shit beat out of me. My arguing is pathetic, and I'm always the first person to back down and give up or compromise. In a vast majority of video games, I get my ass handed to me in multi-player. I'm an incredibly passive, meek person and for all the reasons you can imagine. But of the few times in my life I've been used as an object this is the first I've ever been regarded as furniture. Today, for a longer period than an Alaskan hot minute, I was reduced to spot for a bug to catch its breath mid-coitus.
And I realize this is the absolute wrong reaction. When people of any species start doing it on you, freezing is probably the saddest thing you can do. And under the minor threat of a mild stinging. "Oh, uhhhh, best just let them finish." Thank god it wasn't a couple of bears. Or waking up to some eagles going at it, perched on my shoulder. "Well... this is really uncomfortable for me but... they are endangered."
How is this going to effect my life? I probably shouldn't be blogging about it. Now when people see me on the street they'll say, "Hey! Hey, honey! It's that guy you can do it on and all he does is freeze up and choke!" Random people on the street. Just going at it on me while I'm waiting in line for a movie or trying to grab lunch.
"Huh? -Oh, yeah. Here. - No. No. I just started carrying them in my pocket. It happens so often. ...What? No I'm out of the flavored ones. Just ribbed and glow in the dark."
So when I wrote this blog I had no idea what species of bees these were. So evidently they're a variety of sweat bee and don't produce honey. Also honey bees are the only ones who die after sex. Special thanks to Crissy, the blog's now official bee keeper. Normally I'm not above editing a blog to mask my ignorance but then we'd be losing the humor and those of you who knew what kind of bee they were all along would miss out on being more knowledgeable than me. And for those of you who were just as in the dark as myself and made it this far, don't you feel all sorts of smarter for having read this paragraph?