It's not about the house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick, Henry!

I’m starting to look like I have the plague…

See, I’ve been taking these walks almost daily since I got here. I do it partly for the exercise, partly just to get out of the house, and partly because having your skin turn a lovely shade of golden brown because you’re walking 5 miles a day in a strap-tank is just a coincidence, and it's not the same thing as "getting a tan" at all. Uh-uh, it isn’t. You can’t catch cancer if you’re moving. Swear to god.

At first I was just randomly wandering. I’d make a note of where I took a turn, keep an eye on how long I’d been out, and after 45 minutes or so, retrace my steps. But in doing that I discovered that from here to the end of Newfield road (which actually becomes Bridge Street when you hit the Newfield line) is exactly 2½ miles. So now that’s the route I follow every day. Well, every day unless it’s raining. Or too hot. Or if my free time’s spoken for because I have to Go To Town.

Before I started randomly wandering, though, I was hiking through the woods. I grew up in the woods, I love the woods, and there are acres of them out here. And I was really looking forward to getting acquaintanced with them again before I, you know, make the big move to the wilds of New York.

But one thing I’d forgotten about the woods over the decades of our estrangement was the horseflies. So when I said “before I started randomly wandering I was hiking through the woods,” what I meant was: I did that exactly once.

Because oh, my Christ.

For those of you who have never been outside the city, or who live in, I don’t know, Antarctica, a horsefly is a creature from the bowels of Hades. Looks like a housefly but yellow-and-black-striped like a bee, darts like a housefly so you can’t swat it even if it’s standing still, has some sort of invisible forcefield so it mysteriously doesn’t die if you do somehow manage to land a blow, and stings like a motherfucker. Also buzzes. Loud. Loud enough so you can hear every time a new one comes to join the crowd that’s swarming around your eyes and hair and nose and ass and ears.

(FYI, and only sort of incidental to this story: if you see something that looks exactly like a housefly except huge, then you’d best drop everything and run like hell. That there’s a deer fly, and if one of them stings you your arm falls off. My hand to god (no pun intended). It used to happen to me all the time.)

So but the good thing about horseflies is they don’t so much like the heat. They come out in the summer, sure, but they’d much rather stay out of the sun. They turn the woods into a crazy-making circle of throbbing hell, most definitely, but they're not difficult to avoid along the road. So I took to going for my walks at noontime, or thereabouts, when the (now non-carcinogenic!) sun is overhead. Because in the mornings and afternoons, when the shade from the forest encroaches on the road, the stinging and the buzzing and the throbbing and the hell comes right along.

Oh and because another thing, which I forgot to say, is that these are some tenacious little shits. If I walk through the shadow of a tree, I will pick up a horsefly, and he will be on my ass the whole five miles. Well, not literally on my ass, but you know, he’ll be there. Buzzing. Trying to sting me. Unless I stop, stand very still so that he'll land, and let him sting me — then smack the hell out of whatever tender body part he chose.

And trust me, friends, these past few days, I’ve smacked ‘em all.

These past few days, see, I haven’t been able to walk at noon. Well, I mean, I’m not spontaneously crippled at that time or anything, but situations have been coming up. So yesterday I went out late, today I went out early, and both days came home just a little weltier than when I left.

And when I say “just a little,” what I mean is “holy crap.”

I just counted the horsefly bites I have on me right now and I came up with 29. And those are only the ones, mind you, that I can still see or feel. It’s not counting, for example, the one that happened inside my front pocket somehow, because it seems to have, mercifully, faded away.

So if you see me – which none of you will, I hope, until I’m healed, but if you do – please try not to run screaming away. It’s not a pox I have. It’s not a plague. It isn’t acne. It's none of those disgusting things, I swear to god.

It's just a couple itchy, welty, crazy-making days of throbbing hell.

And you know how you can tell that isn't fiction? Because I only promised not to talk about communicable diseases -- an insect infestation is a completely different thing!


Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why the bikies let you win at pool. I bet you look right mean with spots all over you.

Cake said...

I'm going camping in a few weeks and then to a friend's cottage...both locales are horsefly and deerfly heaven.

*starts scratching pre-emptively*

My word verification is "nolobsti"...I'm not sure why but it made me laugh.

ege said...

12 -- LET me win!? LET me win!? Oh, 12ie, I oughta smack you one...

Cake -- Get thee a beekeepers suit. Pronto. Nolobsti.

HPH said...

Avon Skin-So-Soft. Works for skeeters and flies. Even if it doesn't work on those biters-from-hell, yer poxy skin will be much softer!

Oh yeah, hanging plastic bags filled with water near the area [i.e. back porch] deters regular flies (really!
maybe you could rig a mechanism whereby a bag of water is hanging from a hook support attached to yer head (like the proverbial carrot in front of the house)... okay, maybe not.