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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

you got it all wrong

i was young enough to feel the impatient tug of an iron grip on my arm. There was a rush to go somewhere.

Two men were sitting at a table, a lightly crowded dining patio, nestled amongst a fatty-leaved green hillside of trees and fake stucko. Perhaps it was their posture that drew my attention - relaxed and open. Stark contrast to the closed, hunched men i was familiar with.

My arm was held high, pulled along in the wake of some hulking, shambling adult. We skirted the perimeter of the restaurant patio, offering me an unnoticed viewing of the scene. I was fascinated by the two men in conversation ... one dark and wirey like night slivers, the other a golden strawberry of a man, well-fed and burstingly youthful. I have a strong recollection of how enjoyable it was to gaze upon their contrasting colors.

A rumbling buzz broke the quiet as a huge, twirling, writhing mass of bees swirled and hurled themselves over the patio building's roof and scant few feet over everyone's heads.

Folks scattered like spooked cattle. Scenes of flailing hands, skidding retreats, ducking sprints were all blissfully ignored by my shambling, rambling adult. We skirted the moment in purposeful, blindered gait.

As the bees fell over the building, there was a deep and throaty buzz rumbling from within it's black mass. It wasn't the harsh cutting of a chain into wood. Instead, it rumbled like the homey-hum of mundane chores getting done. The thrum of a thousand, thousand wings beating the air in workman's rythym.

The dark man had been listening to the lighter's words as the bees began flooding over the building. As they descended the dark man shifted his attention, soft curiousity as the swarm swooped and swum.

The other man had an instant of bolt like the other cattle - the instinctual response of flight overcame him. His hands gripped the sides of his dull-white plastic patio chair and his feet spread in an unthinking preparation for escape. But, a few heartbeats into his reaction, he looked back at his dark tablemate to find him relaxed and observatory. The effect was instantaneous - the strawberry man plopped down in his seat as the swarm passed harmlessly over their heads and through the trees. It all lasted no more than a couple seconds.

I was struck hard by the dark man's cool and calm in the situation. In a see of diving, yelping chaos ... he was unaffected and serene.

After the swarm had passed, you could feel a visceral drop in the tension from the ducking and diving diners. There was a flush of general surprise and relief amongst them ... and of course the predictable loud voices of slight embarrassment. The sounds of skittery laughter and complaining knees as disheveled people picked themselves off the ground, out from behind each other, back from the direction of their frantic flight.

While the dark man waited for his strawberry companion's attention to return, it appeared as though there may have been a small aura of enjoyment eminating from him. As if the panicked, but ultimately harmless scene had given him a small moment of amusement. Just an ever so slight hint of it flickered from the corners of his mouth.

Perhaps it wasn't there at all.


Velo Bella said...

while you might think a headwind is an essential nutrient, this writing, from you, is more of an essential nutrient.

well, in my diet anyway.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

sweet talker

X Bunny said...


"I see a bee, 'eeeeeee'!"

ok, that is a silly response to this tale but it is what it makes me think of

Velo Bella said...

I ran through a swarm of bees once. No way would I be brave enough to just stand there and take it.

the old bag said...

Great writing.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...