I was very little when I had my first traumatic encounter with a hornet, but even a decade later the details still linger. It was pitch black outside, and my father had stopped at a public restroom for me. It was a cool, pitch black night outside. Calm, peaceful, and without any signs of danger or harm. The moment I had left the restroom, however, the blissful summertime night was pierced by a sharp and intense pain on my hand. Bewildered, I had ran down the bathroom steps to my father who had asked what was wrong. I had no idea at the time what was happening, all I knew was that I was writhing in pain and tears were being jerked from my eyes. My father had somehow managed to kill the hornet, but the damage was already done. The stinging on my palms never faltered, there was simply a constant throbbing on both of my hands from where the insect had unleashed its wrath. I had never been attacked by anything up until that point, and my five year old self still hadn’t completely understood what was happening or why I’d been stung for leaving a restroom. Sure enough, the stinging did fade and the stinger was removed, but to this very day I still have an extreme and irrational fear towards wasps and hornets.
There was another encounter three years later at a park relatively nearby. This time it was a bright sunny day at the playground, and the prospect of a hornet attack seemed far less likely. I had been enjoying myself, bouncing from station to station without any care in the world. It was a gorgeous fall season and my world was brightly brimming with colors and faded shadows. Not a thing was wrong until I had gotten into the tireswing. At first, there was no trouble for me at all. That is, up until a small insect with brown wings had begun hovering in front of me, clearly agitated by whatever I was doing. Presuming it to be a lightning bug, I had smacked at it assuming I would send it off on its way and continue to enjoy the swing. I later realized, however, that there were two things wrong with the assumption that it was a lightning bug. First off, lightning bugs don’t come out during the middle of the day. Secondly, Lightning bugs aren’t territorial and they don’t usually hover in front of people. Though this didn’t immediately register to me, I certainly knew something was wrong the moment it landed on my right knee and bit me. Once more I was in excruciating pain, only this time my father wasn’t immediately near and I had an army of children in the area to witness my tears. I didn’t care. All I wanted was to get away from the awful thing that had caused me so much pain and find my parents so they could make it better. It was at about this point that I’d decided to be overly cautious when dealing with anything that flies from that point on. Even as a young adult today, I still get very fidgety and panicked whenever I see a hornet or wasp. Even a fly has me on edge until I’m absolutely sure it’s a fly. Much time has passed, but my fearful stimuli towards yellow and black insects with stripes has yet to diminish and may well never leave me.