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My Aphorisms are Collapsing

2004-07-12 - 5:57 p.m.

I saw one of the most interesting things I could ever have imagined today.

I saw a bee take a nap.

I was outside of the free speech cafe after having spent the morning exploring the campus and acquiring my Berkeley ID, which will now ensure that I don't have to pay full price for a movie for the next five yars. Actually, since there is no expiration date on the card, I could probably hold on to it forever. You never know.

Back at the ranch, I was reading and minding my own business when I saw something fly between my legs, an all too rare occurence these days. I really, really hoped that it was a fly and was really, really upset to see a little honeybee wandering around within inches of my crotch.

There followed some of the most stealthy yet acrobatic movements of my life. I manged to extricate myself from the bench without disturbing the bee. This involved a lot of leg stretching and balancing on the arms, all of which made me very glad that I do yoga. At the end of it, I was one bench over and the bee was none the wiser.

Or, perhaps, he was just too tired to notice me. You see, the bee proceeded to wander around the bench until he found one spot. He then--actually, it occurs to me that I am being horribly chauvanistic in my anthropomorphism, because all worker bees are female, I believe--SHE then found one spot and began examining it thoroughly. I assumed she had found some sugar or nectar down in the cracks and was trying to excavate it out of there. Then, her little feet and antenna and wings stopped twitching, and she just lay there, completely still.

I got curious. Was she dead? Was she concentrating really hard on some sort of bee related conundrum? I thought about tapping the bench near where she was to try to get a response, but then it occured to me I would be dealing with an angry bee that would likely sting me and, as a result, die anyway. Then another possibility occurred: could this bee just be taking a nap?

I kept checking on her as I read my sci-fi novel (David Brin's second Uplift trilogy, for the curious) and she simply remained perfectly still, until eventually she started moving again, did her little check of the immediate area, and flew off.

That's when I realized that I had just seen a bee take a nap.

This bothered me tremendously. A bee was taking a nap. If a bee has time during the day to take a power nap, can we really say "busy as a bee" anymore? Those busy people we describe with that phrase certainly don't have time to take a nap. Is there another insect or creature that we can use instead? Do ants require a little shut-eye during the day?

I reasoned that maybe this bee was an exception, that her indolence would be noticed by another worker and reported to her manager, who would dsicipline her with extra pollinating duty or, since the insect world is not known for subtelty, death. Maybe her hive, being a California hive, was more laid back than others. Why should the bees here worry about making honey when the growing season lasts all year? Then again, could this be the only sleep that this bee had all day, or even all week? Maybe this was her one break, and rather than spending it in the darkness and noise of a hive, she decided to park it outside a cafe and soak up some rays.

It occurs to me that I could find this all out by going online, that I could find long discourses on the sleeping habits of the european honeybee written by countless beekeepers over the centuries. I'm sure that there's even a beekeeper's blog out there somewhere. However, I think that, for once, I am not going to be what Pamie over at refers to as a Wonder Killer, the person who has to know the factual answer to any question and who refuses to condone any whimsical musings on any other possible explanations. Usually, I am the guy who gives the correct answer, thoroughly destroying the amusing conversation that everyone around me had been enjoying.

I did it only a few nights ago. A bunch of us high-falutin' English PhD peeps and our friends were chatting at this incredibly cool bar in San Francisco called Wild Side West, whose coolness derives from a beautiful garden in the back full of the scent of jasmine, honeysuckle, and on occassion, pot. One of us mentioned meeting a nemesis, and yelling, when said nemesis was out of earshot, "Nemesi SUCK!!!" Now, I love a good mutual hated as much as the next guy, but once people started speculating about the true plural of "nemesis," I felt the need to point out that the correct answer was, in fact, "nemeses."

People refused to accept this. They insisted that "nemesi" is more fun to say. I agree on that point, but at the same time, had to bite down on my tongue not to assert the rightness of my answer. Fortunately, I had a kindred Wonder Killer spirit that night, who shared a brief yet amusing grimace with me.

I'm not going to be that guy this time. I am not going to try to explain what I saw. Instead, I'm going to look at witnessing a bee nap as a special experience, and bring it up in order to amuse whenever anyone says "busy as a bee."

Although I admit to kinda liking the phrase "bee nap." I have a feeling I'm going to take a lot of those in California. Use it in your vernacular today!

If you do, I'll totally work to change "nemeses" into "nemesi." The world will be all the cooler.

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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