Yesterday I was working in the field, and a wasp somehow got into my trousers while I was walking from one plot to another, hauling my very serious science wagon full of water tanks.
Because I was walking, my leg swung forward, the fabric of the trousers trapped the wasp against my thigh, and it stung me in a frantic panic attack. I am accustomed to this sort of thing, so I shot a quick glance left and right, evaluated my aloneness, and dropped my trousers to get the wasp out.
Apparently, it had flown in through my pocket, which has a mesh inside through which it stung me. I don’t think anyone spotted me with my trousers down; I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
But this whole situation reminded me of a story. A while back, I was working in a thick tangle of scrubby brush. My team and I were searching for the nests of a type of bird that loves thickets and dense vegetation. It was a lot of work to find the nests; we had to check every branch of every shrub in the reserve, which meant many long days of painstakingly working our way through spiny brush. Because the nests were fairly rare, it often felt like a thankless job.
One day, while I was working my way north, I pulled down a branch to check it for a nest and a beetle tumbled down and fell into my shirt. It not only fell into my shirt, however, it also fell into my bra.
Now, if you have ever had a fair-sized beetle in your clothing, you will know that its first response it to stick out all of its legs in different directions and start clawing around. Given that this beetle had fallen into a particularly sensitive area, and given that it had particularly spiny legs, I let out a loud WHOOP and thrashed around through the thicket, struggling to pull my shirt off over my head.
I finally managed it and, almost simultaneously, tumbled out into an open area. I had thought we were in the middle of nowhere, in a protected nature reserve, so imagine my surprise when I found that I had stumbled right into the center of an equestrian competition.
A young girl performing dressage on a chestnut mare with an elaborately braided mane gaped at me, someone in the audience gasped.
I was still in dire straits, so I reached in my bra, snatched out the beetle with a “HA!” and dove back into the thicket without so much as a “how do you do?”
I hope I didn’t affect the poor girl’s score too badly.