Michael Thomason

Michael Thomason

The wasp tribe considered themselves the most civilized. Dirt daubers were forever flying around with mud on their faces, hornets dug dirty little holes in the ground and the bumblebees bored holes everywhere, even through thick boards. To the wasp, all this was a massive waste of time and energy, as well as a poor reflection on the overall intellect of the species. The wasps were a proud people, high-minded and universally vain. They were also famously short-tempered, inclined to sting first, ask questions later.

If you were to ask a wasp, any wasp, why they thought so much of themselves, they would usually ignore the question. If you persisted, they would simply point to their nest. They built their symmetrical homes much like the bees, those silly cousins, but didn’t slobber honey all over them to attract every bear and badger in three counties. The bees were idiots. But not the wasp. He made his nest away up in the shaded, protected corner of porches and eaves and overhangs, and added rooms every year as needed. Now and again, over coffee, the wasps would talk among themselves. Someone was bound to ask, sooner or later, what was up with the humans. Everyone agreed they were a foolish lot, but dangerously so. Humans built huge houses with overhangs everywhere, and then acted all offended when wasps naturally built their homes there. To the wasps, humans were filled with everything but logic. ‘Live and let live’ was the official wasp motto. If the humans didn’t want wasps around, then they shouldn’t have made so many convenient places to hang their nests.

Once upon a time not so long ago, a farmer’s wife read in a popular magazine that the smart homeowner should paint porch ceilings sky blue to keep the wasps away. Convinced, she instructed her husband to get on the project immediately. The result, as patiently explained to the uneducated spouse, was the wasps would quit making their nests up in the porch corners, thinking them unprotected with open sky above. It made perfect sense to the wife; perhaps less so to the husband, that dullard. She said the effectiveness was known since early times and quite established as fact. The husband didn’t believe the paint influenced the wasps one way or the other and thought the entire concept a waste of valuable time, money and blue paint. However, being wiser than he looked, he kept these thoughts mostly to himself as he dutifully painted, knowing a peaceful domicile, and supper, might well depend on his cooperation.

There was a wasp named Fred who was German by inclination, meaning he was full of himself and impervious to good advice, got it in his head that the blue porch ceiling was only painted that way, and wasn’t the sky after all. He arrived at this conclusion after trying to fly through it forty times in a row. Nobody believed him, but he persisted and proceeded to prove his point by constructing his home right there in the sky, so to speak. Well! Just imagine the amazement of all the other wasps when they saw a home under construction, suspended in the air without any visible means of support. Fred smugly went about his nest-building business as only a smug wasp will, pretending he didn’t notice the other wasps watching or hear their comments. But he gloated a little bit on the inside, and his head swelled up a little bit, on the outside. That was the German in him.

A week or so into the sky-blue porch ceiling project, the farmer’s wife sat herself out on the front porch in her cane bottom rocker and as she contentedly sipped at a morning cup of coffee, chanced to glance upwards. There to her horror she spotted a solitary wasp nest well under construction up on the ceiling, as if the blue paint were not sky at all, but only painted so.

The wife sprang into action and went for a broom as soon as she knew her husband wasn’t watching. Swinging like Babe Ruth aiming for the bleachers, she swatted down the wasp nest. As is customary when it comes to karma, Fred, the nest, and several of his immediate kin went down the back of her gown; with the customary results.

The farmer’s wife leaped and twitched around the porch for a time, as if demon possessed, grabbing and swatting and hollering and stomping. Fred was getting in his last licks. She ran out in the yard shucking clothes, shaking her head and swinging at imaginary attackers. The husband came around the corner just in time to see his bride go flying past, missing most of her clothes and hollering like she was on fire. He carefully set down his can of blue paint and brush and set out to go help, if he could catch her.

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