Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Live long, prosper and avoid the bees

Nature is a dangerous thing. Much like sausage gravy, chainsaw jugglers and Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel of a car, it's best to just stay away.

Indoors is fine. Inside a geodesic dome sealed in a plastic bubble is better.

Point 1) A giant web sprawls across more than 200 yards of trees in a park near Wills Point, Texas - a web so big it has covered a pond. The web, once white, is now black with mosquitoes from that pond, a feast for the spiders who built the web.

And by spiders I mean lots of spiders from 12 species that usually don't play well with others.

"Normally they are cannibalistic and their webs are separated," Allen Dean, a Texas A&M University entomologist told the Associated Press. "They live in harmony because there's so much food available."

Oh, yeah. I've seen the movie, "Kingdom of the Spiders." Things didn't end well for William Shatner. Let's learn from Shatner's mistakes: 1) don't fight 50,000 spiders with a fire extinguisher, and 2) run ... now.

Entomologist Hank Guarisco from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., camped at the park to observe the spiders and was eaten alive.

No, wait. That was the movie again. I told you Shatner didn't fare well.

The spiders Guarisco observed usually mind their own business and don't interact with other spiders.

"Here they are sharing a lot of foundation strands that are all over the place," he told the Associated Press. "They don't have individual webs anymore."

Yes, the spiders are organized. Go to church, make peace with your Maker, and pray for Raid.

Point 2) Killer Bees. A swarm of highly aggressive Africanized honeybees was recently captured near New Orleans. Like the city doesn't have enough problems.

"Although the exact source can't be identified, we have to assume Africanized honeybees are now established in the area and people should be careful when working outside," Louisiana agriculture commissioner Bob Odom told the Associated Press.

Kids: Why can't we play outside, Momma?

Mom: Because of the stinging clouds of death, dear. Go watch TV.

Killer bees were accidentally released in South America in 1957, and they've been making their way north ever since.

Again, I've seen the movie and, if I were a bee, "The Killer Bees" was the feel-good movie of 1974.

But there is some good news for the human species; the life expectancy for Americans has reached 78 years.

Which brings me to Point 3) An 81-year-old Milwaukee man has sued Helen of Troy Ltd., the company that makes Brut cologne. While camping with his family, the man shaved in the campgrounds bathhouse, slapped a little Brut on his face, chest and neck, walked to the camp grill to cook breakfast and caught fire.

I'm sure he'll win the lawsuit. Although a bottle of Brut lists "alcohol" as an ingredient, it doesn't specifically say anything about sticking your face too close to an open campfire.

So, yeah, a lot of us are now destined to live longer, unless we're eaten by spiders, attacked by roving gangs of angry bees or the apes finally take over. Of course, when we do live past 78, we'll probably just set ourselves on fire.

Excuse me, I'm just going to curl into the fetal position and cry.

Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt

Jason's new book of ghost stories, "Haunted Missouri," is available at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and tsup.truman.edu.