NY Challenged: The Fear of a Bee Allergy is Worse Than Being Stung


Paul Kitagaki/Sacramento Bee/MCT

This weekend I saw that some entrepreneurial mom was selling chickenpox lollipops online. Her kids were sick and licked the lollipops, and she was offering the tainted candy to the parents of chickenpox-free children. I think the idea was that parents with antisocial children could still get their little ones sick. Exposing children to viruses, within reason, is essential to their development of a strong immune system. It’s better to get the virus at a young age, because the majority of chickenpox related deaths happen in adulthood, to those who were never exposed as youngsters. The lollipop idea, though novel, was absurd.

I never had chickenpox, and until I recently called my mom to confirm that I had been vaccinated, I was starting to develop a phobia of playgrounds and ice cream trucks. I did not want to catch the virus from some itchy first-grader, because I wasn’t sure how my body would handle it. My unreasonable fear of child-induced death-by-chickenpox reminded me of another time that I learned about my susceptibility to potential doom.

I was twenty years old. It was a beautiful summer day, and I was standing outside watering the grass. The sky was a perfect Crayola-blue hue. The sun was warm and nurturing, like a medium toaster setting that brings bread to its full potential. Birds were chirping and smiling between the trees. Bees were doing their thing. Life was beautiful.

My mom came out of the house. I smiled and waved, angelic like a cherub. She stood in the patio, and gave me a static smile, watching me thoughtfully. I kept watering, and she kept smiling. Finally she broke the silence of my utopian summer day.

“You know, I’m surprised you’re not more nervous around those bees,” she said.

I was in a good mood. I dismissed her statement with a pretentious, “Well that would be silly. I mean, they’re probably more nervous around me right? And if they decide to sting me, they sting me. No big deal.” The only thing missing from my response was a “c’est la vie” followed by a sip of champagne and a pompous twist of my philosophical mustache.

My mom brought me down fast. “Oh? I guess I forgot to tell you. You might be allergic to bees.”

I snapped my head in her direction and unleashed a no-nonsense glare.

“What? Might? Might be allergic? Maybe I’m allergic to bees, and you forgot to tell me? I’m twenty!” I stopped watering and walked over to my mom, for several reasons. I wanted to look her in the eye and get to the bottom of this sudden revelation. I wanted to get away from the bees. I was hoping that if they attacked, they might go for her first. I hoped that if they did sting me anyway, I would die with my eyes wide open, staring at her in a way that said, “First no chickenpox, now this?”

She said, “Well, we don’t know. Maybe you are allergic, but maybe not.” I guess you can’t really argue with evidence like that.

To this day, I do not know if I’m allergic to bees. It’s unfortunate because it makes any fear of bees I might have totally irrational, and yet any lack of fear equally irrational. I’m going to see if I can buy some bee sting lollipops.