HOLLYWOOD—A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta doâ”€especially when dealing with a member of the Hymenoptera family,Vespa vulgaris, popularly known as wasp.
Time: 11 p.m., early December
Place: Hollywood, the Hollywood Bungalows to be exact
The Players: My neighbor, Adrian, and I. Adrian did not make good on his promise to bring a video camera, in case things went horribly awry. Otherwise, the operation to rout a terrifying pest from the neighborhood began according to plan.
GM: (calling out at Adrian’s porch) Are you ready?
Adrian: Ready as I’ll ever be. I should have had my great herringbone coat. I left mine in Virginia during Thanksgiving. We’d be like the Blues Brothers in long herringbone overcoats.
GM: Thanks for doing this.
ADRIAN: I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. The wasps are supposed to be asleep, right? You researched this? Is that why we’re doing this at eleven at night?
GM: The cold makes them drowsy. When I discovered the nest, it was that really cold day on the weekend. I was cutting the ivy and there was this gray piece of crap hanging from the fence. And I actually gripped it in my gardening glove. It was hard. A piece broke off and I saw the aerodynamic head of a wasp stick out.
I figure wasps have gotten a bad rap. So I decided to look up their benefits online. They eat spiders and caterpillars and keep down the use of pesticides. But everyplace I looked kept mentioning to keep wasp nests away from houses. I was gonna leave it up there, then I saw two wasps in my living room today.
ADRIAN: I had wasps in my house in Virginia. They’re bad news. They can sting children and can be really nasty. I didn’t do what you’re gonna do, I just sprayed it with Raid every day for a month until they were all dead.
GM: The Internet said to cover our faces and wear boots.
ADRIAN: Well, I don’t care what they say, I’m wearing my flip-flops. And bringing my cigarette. Beekeepers smoke cigars.
(We sally forth down the walkway between the cottages to mine: Casa de las Bugambilias, i.e., the house that gags and illegal immigration built.)
GM: Are you ready for gloves?
ADRIAN: I figure if it’s anything I need gloves for, gloves won’t be enough to protect me.
GM: I guess, I’ll let my hands go naked. My face isn’t protected either. The website scared the hell out of me. It said when you’ve contained the nest, leave it and run like hell.
GM: Can I go inside with my cigarette?
GM: Go right ahead. Welcome. (seignorial)
ADRIAN: There seem to be a lot of welcomes.
(Indeed. One welcome underfoot on the doormat, on the ceramic sign that says, ‘Welcome. My house is your house.’ We step indoors.)
GM: OK, lemme get the pruning shears. I’ve got some long-handled ones. But these are best. The blades are sharp.
ADRIAN: You handle that. I’ll handle the jar.
GM: Here’s the pickle jar.
ADRIAN: It’s kosher.
(We go onto the back step, facing the nest. In the darkness as I spy, a wasp still outside, guarding its insect condominium, Adrian holds the jar, thrusts it against the nest like 40 parallel-grouped pieces of penne pasta.)
ADRIAN: Watch out. You’re gonna unleash a swarm.
(I snip the strand that holds the baby-fist sized nest inside a diamond of chain-link fence. It plops into the pickle jar.)
GM: Got it!
(He gets the cap on and hands it to me. It feels imposing. Like my father’s ashes.)
GM: We got it!
ADRIAN: This was very anti-climactic.
GM: Wow! This is great. I’m so pumped up ’cause of all the scary stuff about wasps online. It said they can poke through just about anything with their stingers.
ADRIAN: They can’t poke through a metal lid.
GM: I can imagine a movie. . .
ADRIAN: A B-movie, ‘Attack of the killer wasps.’
GM: Imagine the stingers poking through the metal lid. They have titanium stingers.
ADRIAN: I can see it now, ‘Attack of the Killer Wasps.’