ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

I promise this is it for the bee sting story. When we left off, I was sitting alone in my wife’s car in the parking lot of “The Mart”. She had gone in to get my plethora of prescriptions. Unfortunately, it was nothing fun on the menu, and with the exception of the epi-pen, nothing was for more than the next three days. I didn’t care, as long as there was some sort of face shrinking pill coming my way.

I don’t recall if I mentioned it earlier in the story or not, but the bee sting happened just four days before I was to go to my 25 year high school reunion; impeccable timing as always on my part. I had gone about 30 years or so without a bee sting, and NOW of all times I get one, and learn the hard way that I’m now allergic. I’m about to go see a whole bunch of people I haven’t seen for a quarter of a century looking like the final scene of any one of the Rocky movies. I’m already having a little anxiety over the inevitable conversations I’ll be having with each of these people, and now I’ve thrown a hideous physical challenge into the mix. I’m anticipating literally almost every conversation that night to go something like this,

“Hey, it’s been forever. Wow, the last time I saw you, you were a bartender at the beach and had just had a baby. What are you up to now?”

To which I would respond, “Uh…that.” There would probably be a few seconds of polite chuckles, after which I’d probably get a,

“NO, seriously, what are you up to.” To which I would of course have to respond,

“I’m still tending bar at the beach, and I recently had another baby.” I actually anticipate the inevitable ensuing moment of awkward silence with vigor.

Even though a large portion of my former classmates are regular readers of Shorebilly’s Swill, I absolutely refuse to tell anyone at the reunion I’m a writer, so I’m just going to stick with the bartender thing. It’ easier to let them think I’m pathetic rather than try to explain something I’m not yet comfortable with.

So anyway, I’m sitting in this parking lot waiting for my wife to come back. She was kind enough to open a couple of windows halfway for me like I was a dog. It was about 90 degrees that day so I appreciated the gesture. Looking back on it now though, she could have left me the keys so I could have had the AC on. Ah, I was pretty doped up at this point. I wouldn’t have trusted me with heavy machinery either.

In my boredom, I started playing with my phone. Yes friends, I DID in fact finally upgrade. I no longer have a rotary cell phone. So there I sat a dumb guy with a smart phone, a giant face, a twisted sense of humor, and ready access to social media. I morphed briefly into the Kool Aid Guy as I said out loud the words. “OH YEAH!”

This just had to be seen. I didn’t post any pictures of my shingles last year, because that was far too nasty, but balloon face begged to be shared. How else could I properly convey that I looked like I was the unfortunate love child of a Klingon, and Pinky (one of the ghosts from Pac-Man) without photographic evidence?

So, with that said, I used what little knowledge I had as far as cleaning up and enhancing photos taken with my iPhone and posted it to facebook. So immediately, for all the world to see, was a shot of me looking like a relief map of Mars. I needed just the right caption for it. I decided to go with the following: “Now I’m no Doctor, but if you get stung by a bee on the calf, and look like this 15 minutes later, it’s not good, right?”

This instantly triggered the most prolific, rapid-fire exchange I’ve ever seen on social media. In my haste to entertain, I failed to mention that I had already sought medical help. I probably should have thrown that disclaimer up with the picture. Before I even had a chance to post on it myself, there was a series of panicked instructions for me to seek immediate medical help. They consisted of a lot of “OMG’s”, the word “NOW”, in all caps, and a few posts that started with the word “Holy”. My intent was a little more like a Tosh. O episode, where I show you a picture, put 20 seconds on the clock, and see how many funny comments you can make.

It’s absolutely amazing to me through modern technology how quickly people much more computer savvy than myself can obtain and post still photos from movie clips to my page. Within minutes of my post, dear friends of mine from every point in my life were posting pictures of what they deemed as my likeness at the time. The godfather of my son quickly posted a still clip of Eric Stoltz as Rocky Dennis from the movie Mask. There was also a Klingon and of course, the Elephant Man. A guy I worked with two decades ago, who remains my very dear friend to this day, dug a little deeper with his posted photo. He went the extra mile and found a picture of Randall “Tex” Cobb. It was probably my first post ever that not one person just clicked “like” (which would have been pretty messed up if ya think about it), everyone actually chimed in with a post of their own. And I was kind of thankful for that.

The days that would follow proved to be almost as interesting as the story itself. First, I had to have a professional guy with a truck in what looked like a HAZMAT suit come to my home and use his magic wand of chemical wizardry to rid the exterior of my house of the buzzing evil marauders. After doing some research on the variety of bee that stung me, I learned that it wasn’t the kind that leaves his stinger in you and then politely goes lands somewhere alone, and dies. Nope! This was the kind that puts his juice in me, keeps his weapon, and tags me with a notification to the entire rest of his tribe that I am the enemy and need to be dealt with harshly.

Another interesting side effect was the astounding number of people who came to visit me in the bar in the days that followed. Most of them are my friends who had seen the picture of my face through one means or another and couldn’t believe that it was me. They had to see for themselves and they wanted to either debunk one of my pranks, or see the freak in person. I did not disappoint. Fortunately, the swelling had gone down just enough that I could work without scaring people off, yet remained just enough to prove to people that I hadn’t doctored my own photo with some clever iPhone app just to get a night off work.

And finally, through the help of time, pills, and ice packs, the swelling had gone down enough for me to attend my reunion. I was reticent to go but I’m so glad I did because I had a much better time than I expected to. It hadn’t occurred to me that the reunion itself had basically come to fruition through facebook anyway so most of the people I saw that night had already seen the picture of me at my worst, and were asking me how I felt. It was a great time and I was glad I went.

I’m all better now, and like most crappy things that happen in my life it morphed into a pretty good story that I could twist into humor. Thank you all so much for following the bee chronicles. The only remaining side effects from the ordeal are that I now have an unquenchable desire for honey, and I’ve grown some sort of giant spike out of my ass. Thanks for playing along, bzzzzzzzz!

Until next week,

Syd Nichols.