Thursday, 10 November 2011

They are Hornets, not Bees

Although I grew up in the midst of the city, I truly felt as though we lived in the middle of a rural natural habitat. We saw deer, raccoons, skunks and all sorts of animals all the time. We all remember the encounter that the Lush family had with the squirrel, so I thinkI have painted a pretty good picture of the natural element of living in suburban Toronto in the 1970's.
One day, my brother, sister and myself along with dozens of neighbourhood kids were outside playing. We didn't own video games and as we only had one TV and mom was probably watching her "stories" we had no other choice but to go out and play. We noticed there was a lot more hornets around than usual. We were not sure of where there were coming from but there was no need to worry. There was no shortage of big strong men from all over the world to figure out this puzzle.
My father, the super Newfie joined forces with Mr. Joy the Greek neighbour and Mr. Santos the Filipino neighbour to put their minds together to solve the neighbourhood "bee" problem.
They established that the hive was located in the bushes between our property and Mr. Santos' property. That was about the only thing they agree on that day. Mr. Joy (which was short for a long Greek name) was convinced that the "bees" were mild and nothing to be concerned with. He kept saying, in his thick accent "Bill, they are bees, like in the old country." My father was laughing at him and trying to convince him that they were not "bees" but "hornets" and they was nothing mild about them.
I remember super Newf ushering us all in the house as Mr. Joy proceeded to show my father the super Newf how to deal with "bees." I remember watching Mr. Joy walk toward the hive as my father sshhh'd us and said "watch this." That poor man had no idea what was about to happen to him but my father seemed to be particularly excited about it and he could not hold in the laughter. Mr. Joy approached the bush, hornets were flying around him mildly in a more annoying way than threatening. Then it happened. He reached his "old country" hand into the bush to simply grab the hive. We were not sure what he was going to do with it once her had it in his hand but fortunately for him it never got to that point. He started to twitch at first, his head shaking from side to side. Then it was more of a jolting tremor. He started to jerk and contort his body into ways that we had only ever seen on "That's Incredible." The sounds and noises that began to come from him were primal. He was literally getting attacked by an entire hive of hornets. As Mr. Joy began to run toward our house where we were safely behind the door my father was yelling back at him through his laughter to go home. It was like someone was electrocuting him. He took off like a man on fire down our driveway and across our lawn to his own house where his own wife, no doubt, refused to let him in. Poor Mr. Joy. Indeed the super Newf was right on this one. They were not bees from the "old country." These were nasty ass hornets and they meant business.
Now this part of the story is a bit fuzzy in my head but I am sure that my mother will phone me tomorrow to correct any errors I have made so I will continue.
As the hornet's nest settled down and the driveway became passable again it was time for another remedy for this hornet problem.
Now, Mr. Santos had 3 young children the same age as us so he had a vested interest in getting rid of this threat. So when he came over to eliminate the hive he meant business. As he crossed his driveway over onto ours, all we could see was goggles and gloves. This small Pilipino man had apparently thought that the way to combat the nest was to dress like a World War II kamikaze pilot. He came running over saying he would be safe with this helmet-goggle thing on and these long gloves. Of course, my father being the super Newf of a neighbour that he was, brought his kids inside behind the door and again said "watch this."
Oh Mr. Santos, what were you thinking? It took only seconds for the hornets to get inside of his gloves and helmet and send him flailing around the driveway, stopping, dropping and rolling as he too fell victims to the hive. Again my father refused his entry into the house and he too ran home in the fits of stings and shakes. We would have felt sorry for him but clearly this was too funny a situation to feel sorry for anyone.
We looked at dad to see what he was going to do. Out of the 3 of them, 2 were down and down hard.
Dad's method of attack was simple. I remember the smell of gasoline and him reaching for the mop. He gathered everyone inside got in the car and held the mop out of the window, set the mop on fire, rolled up the window as much as he could and drove up the driveway until the fire reached the hive. I can still remember the sound and smell of that hive going up in flames. No doubt Mr. Santos and Mr. Joy were watching as well. Well my dad did it. He destroyed the hive, most of the bush and obliterated the egos of our neighbours.
Now obviously as kids that went us up at least 3 ranks on the neighbourhood totem pole.  Dad did not only destroy the hive and save the neighbourhood, but he also took out 2 men and their pride with it.
Have you ever watched a TV show and saw your father on it? My father would be Phil on Modern Family. That pretty much paints the best picture.
There are so many lessons to be learned here but all I can remember is that my dad was better than your dad and that its funny when people get stung by bees... I mean hornets!

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