Once upon a time, say around 1981, there lived a little girl in a big gray house in a magical land called New Jersey. It was wintertime and the big gray house wore a white cape of snow. The gardens around the house and all the flying and creeping things that lived in them slept, waiting for the warmth of spring to return. One day, the little girl got very sick. Her mother brought her to the doctor who said she had Scarlet Fever.
That night, when the little girl was all tucked into bed and the whole house was asleep, the little girl woke up and started to scream. There was a giant bee easily the size of her twin bed hovering over her, ready to snatch her away. Her mother came running and turned on the lights to show her that the bee wasn’t real but the little girl could still see it hiding behind the bedroom door. Her mother turned on the nightlight in her room and gave her some baby aspirin to make her fever go down. She promised the little girl that the bee would go away when her fever went down and she tucked the little girl under the covers and went back to bed.
But the giant bee hadn’t left. It came back and landed on the wall right next to her bed. It buzzed as it crawled closer and closer to her head and she started to scream again. This time, her daddy came. He didn’t turn on the bright lights. Instead, he asked her where the bee was and she pointed. He pulled the covers up over her head and told her to stay there until he got back. When he came back, he was armed with a fly swatter and a can of bug spray, specially formulated for giant bees. He opened the window and the storm window, letting in a blast of cold winter wind. Because he couldn’t see the giant bee, the little girl peeked her head out of the covers and told him where it was. Armed with his fly swatter and the can of bug spray, he swatted and slashed and sprayed and chased the huge winged monster out the window. He quickly shut the window and drew the shade. Then while he was still armed, he picked her up and together they checked under the bed, in the closet, behind the door, and under the desk to make there weren’t any other giant bees hiding anywhere. With the monster bee gone, he tucked the little girl back into bed and sat at the foot of her bed to keep watch until morning.
Or at least until she fell safely asleep.
Yeah that was me. Dad came to my rescue chasing off the horrific fever-induced hallucination that only I could see. My heroic knight didn’t come in shining armor but in plaid flannel, armed not with sword and shield but a fly swatter and a can of Aqua Net hairspray that he told me was bug spray, specially formulated for giant bees. And of course I believed him.
Mom was the one who patiently nursed me back to health over the next three weeks. Dad was the one who kept the monsters at bay at night. He checked my room, armed with his ‘bug spray, specially formulated for giant bees’ for almost a month, until I was convinced that the giant bee was too afraid of him to come back.
Dad’s greatest gift to me was the way he could see the world through my eyes, even when I saw stuff that wasn’t really there. He also taught me how to tell a good story. Thanks Dad.