Thanks Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors used the T3000 to win Wimbledon and the US Open. I use it to defend myself against wasps and bees while I grill, and volley a carpenter bee or two away from my wood soffits. I’m all for preserving the bee population, but not when they are literally eating my house.

This was a statement racket when it came out and still is today. The thing could be at home on the grass courts of Wimbledon, or in the hands of a villain in one of the Mad Max films. If you squint, it could be some kind of torture device.

I picked up the thing at a garage sale a few years back. It was sitting in the corner of the garage and probably hadn’t been used since Mel Gibson was considered sexy.

My wife thought I was crazy. “You’ve got a tennis racket,” she said. “But this is no ordinary racket,” I said, “this is the T3000.” She shook her head at me, but we kind of had an understanding that if it was cheap enough, you do you.

Cut to today, and we’re enjoying a nice cool spring afternoon on our front porch. Early cocktails after spending the day cleaning outdoor furniture and decks after an extremely dusty pollen season. I was starting to think our furniture was forever yellow.

I went in for more cocktails and when I came back out, Alex had been re-dusted; but not by pollen, by a carpenter bee. It was either tiny wood chips, or tiny bee poop, but either one was not good.

“Get the T3000!” she cried out in exasperation.

I returned with the weapon, glistening in the afternoon sun. “Where is it?” I asked. “He was hovering up there near those two holes in our house.” I held the weapon at the ready, but alas, no sign of the intruder.

I leaned the racket next to us, and we enjoyed ten minutes or so with nary a carpenter bee in sight. In our minds, it was the mere sight of the T3000 that had these things at bay.

“That racket was well worth the dollar or two you spent on it,” Alex admitted. “I told you this was no ordinary racket,” I said as I raised my beer for an imaginary toast: “Thanks Jimmy Connors.”

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The Battle of Almost Wounded Knee

Last year they nested in a nearby tree, bumping into our windows drawn to the inside light at night. They looked like mini army helicopters and kind of sounded like them when they hovered around you while outside. They weren’t fat like bumblebees, but bulky like Humvees. These were the biggest and scariest looking flying things with a stinger that my wife and I had ever seen.

“We’re not in LA anymore,” I said to Alex. In LA flying bugs were more scarce than an older woman without Botox. In LA we would see a few bees around our lavender, some flies sometimes when we picnicked, a rare mosquito. These were all outside bugs mind you, not really trying to get in. Here in Georgia it’s like they’re banging at the door with a search warrant.

We made it through last summer without any giant Humvee-helicopter wasps making it into our home, or God forbid onto our skin. Then this summer, I noticed one going into the fascia above our front door. I went online and did some recon and found out that these things are European wasps. Great, I thought, whatever happened to NATO?

Like most things around the house, I usually try to do them myself before calling an expert. I waited until dusk and suited up the best I could. By the time I had my wrists and ankles rubber-banded and my hockey helmet on, I’d worked up a sweat. “Let’s hope these things aren’t attracted to sweat,” I said to Alex through the glass shield of my hockey helmet. “What?” she asked. “Wish me luck!” I yelled. Alex chuckled at me in my getup and just shook her head.

I’d set up a ladder under the entry point earlier. I stepped outside gingerly and climbed the ladder. I put my wasp spray up to the gap in the fascia and let her rip. Suds and white foam went everywhere as I quickly climbed back down the ladder. Unfortunately, I missed the bottom rung and started to run backwards while trying to keep my feet underneath me. Probably realizing I’d need both hands to break my fall, I flung the can of wasp spray out of my hand and it went flying into the front yard. I then crashed into one of our front porch columns. I sat there for a second kind of stunned. I looked through the now foggy hockey mask. Was that a platoon of wasps swarming toward me, or just my imagination? I got up quicker than I’d fallen and ran into the house.

“What the heck happened out there?” Alex asked. “I fell off the ladder.” “Are you okay?!” I checked that all my appendages were moving properly. “I think I’m okay.” “We’ll call an expert tomorrow then?” Alex suggested. “Not so fast.”

The next day I walked out and examined the battlefield. The ladder was still where I fell off of it, and my wasp spray had rolled about 20 yards away. There wasn’t a dead wasp in sight. Suddenly, I heard a Humvee-helicopter over my shoulder. I eyed the wasp spray, but it was too far away to do me any good. Instead, I ran into the house and decided I might want to call an expert…. Or maybe I could bait them? The battle continues.

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