Tonight while watering my shade garden, I was ruthlessly attacked by a huge, mutant critter of some sort. I didn't actually see it, but from the post attack pain, I'm pretty sure it had a three foot long stinger made of rusty barbed wire, I have an allergy to bees, though I'm not sure if it applies to huge, mutant bees. So I've taken some antihistamine and I'm betting that I won't die. However, the incident allowed me to remember another very funny near death experience.
About a decade ago, I went with a friend to his lake house in northern Wisconsin. My friend was 6'4" and looked very much like a Viking. (This is a morsel necessary to a laugh later in the story.) I decided to learn to fish while I was there. I didn't think it would be very difficult, since I could see the fish swimming around in the crystal clear water.
I bought a fishing pole, stringer, some plastic bugs, a really cute pink tackle box and a fishing license. My friend wasn't the least bit interested in fishing and stayed up in the house reading. The house was above the lake. Twenty-one steps led down from the house to a grassy area sloped to the lake.
On the first day of trying, I discovered that fish in this particular lake don't care much for plastic bugs. So on the morning of the second day I went to a little fishing shop about ten miles away across tiny, bumpy roads. It wasn't much, but it was the closest thing to civilization for miles and miles.
The man there sold me a few dozen worms. They were especially squirmy, slimy worms. Nevertheless, I felt bad about sticking a hook through them. The fish liked the worms and ate them all. They did not, however become attached to my line.
So on the third day, I went back to Fishing Shop Man, who asked how much fishing I'd done. Evidently, there is a specific way to put the worms on the hook and one doesn't necessarily put a whole worm on the hook at once. Well, really, how was I to know that? By the way, I think if I'm buying a lot of a person's product, he should be required not to laugh at me.
I also complained to FSM that the worms he sold me were not pleasant to handle. He suggested I try leaches, which are not slimy. He showed me how to let them attach themselves gently to my once beautifully manicured thumbnail and showed me how to hook them. It may be some sort of prejudice against blood-sucking things, but I felt less bad about sticking the hook through the leaches. However leaches don't taste as good as worms to fish in that particular lake.
I went back to FSM the next day and got more worms and detailed instruction in putting them on the hook. By day five I had a stringer full of little pan fish. I was understandably proud and decided to go for just one more.
When I pulled the stringer from under the dock, I noticed that it was unusually heavy. A huge, ancient turtle was the only thing on my stringer! He smiled at me with a prehistoric, satisfied grin and belched. At least I think he belched. I can't be sure since I was screaming hysterically at the time. I screamed so loud and so long that my friend made it down all 21 steps and leaped across the grassy area in time to see the very happy turtle swim away.
"Big turtle," he said and went back to his book and the air-conditioned house.
The next day FSM was interested in the big turtle and sold me a metal cage to hold my catch in the event that I ever caught another fish, and sold me more worms. I caught one tiny fish over and over and over again, giving him a good talking to and throwing him back each time. I eventually did catch an other batch of keepers and once again went for one last fish before quitting for the day.
When I pulled up my metal fish cage to put the last fish in, that damned reptile had his dinosaur jaws clamped on to the cage and several of the fish had fainted in sheer terror.
However, this time I was not terrified. This time I was mad!
I grabbed my new fishing knife, still in it's fancy leather sheath, and beat that critter on its giant pointy beak until it let go of my fish. I called it every bad name I could think of, many of which were not actually appropriate for a turtle.
But I won, dang it anyway. The turtle had to actually go work for his dinner and I, sweaty and yucky from a day of fishing, trod up the long walk to the house to clean mine. I showed my prizes to my friend, who was underwhelmed.
While sitting on a slab of concrete trying to separate the edible part of the fish from the rest of them, a wasp who was evidently a good friend of the turtle, stung me a few times on my right hand. I'd never been stung by a wasp before, but I knew I was allergic to honey bees and frankly, it hurt a lot.
So I called to my friend and told him that he'd need to take me to an emergency room. He, of course, had no clue where the nearest ER was. He went from lethargic apathy to panic in a matter of seconds.
While he was looking for his car keys, I decided that I had time to at least wash the fish gore from my hands before trying to find medical help. I had tramped across the kitchen and was nearly to the bathroom when I realized that I had left a trail of blood on the floor. Then I realized that in my frenzied attempts to shake the wasp from my hand, I'd failed to put my my knife down. My left hand and leg were both sliced.
My big, strong friend saw the blood and crashed out cold on the floor.
I managed to get most of the blood cleaned up while he was coming to. We eventually we made it to an emergency room where the doctor wanted to know why a bee sting was making me bleed all over his exam room. My embarrassed friend declined medical treatment.
We pulled up to the lake house in time to see a very happy couple of cats scamper away from my dented, empty fish cage. Not that the fish would have been much good after all that time anyway.
I really can't show my face at that lake anymore.
The Benedryl seems to be working, by the way.