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  • Harry Jensen

April 11, 2020

I have been clearing out the back yard for the last few days, and our grass is looking fresh, prim and practically pink since our neighbor Ryan cut it yesterday. Lying next to our verdant dirt patch — one now craterized quadrant of the lawn had been decimated by dandelions run rampant — is a stone patio featuring a table, six wickery chairs, and an ocher-painted aluminum structure upholding a retractable roof made of canvas. Yesterday, when I unbunched the then retracted canopy, I discovered the abandoned beginnings of a wasp’s nest, only a few dozen little chambers in all. The whole thing was about the size of a corgi’s kidney; the wasps had elected to erect their home in the shape of a cartoon heart, resembling two slightly overlapping oven mitts drilled through with heartworm tunnels. I’ll always wonder why it didn’t work out, why they didn’t make that their home, but I will keep it hidden away in the canvas to honor their legacy, a nod of respect from one WASP to another.

The wasp’s cousins, however, are starting to worry me. The bees are out of control — and I fear they might turn to drugs. I found another one dead on the porch, and another had the nerve to sting Muzz, the smallest of my roommates. Usually I’d say a stinger in the arm meat is a known risk of the great outdoors, but an attack in our living room is quite another thing. Perhaps they resent my waspy affiliation.

The people are getting even stranger. The gangs of children bicycling through the streets, screaming as they wobble by in a caravan of bulky white helmets, are getting bolder and more animalistic. I fear them, and the adults are becoming more like them. I saw a lady with blonde dreads drawing a crop circle in the sidewalk with pastel-colored chalks yesterday, and today a hairy man punted a 7-11 drink into the air near my face in the parking lot, offering me a smelly and winning smile of supplication as he walked through, in, and out of my personal quarantine bubble. Who can you trust?

Today, at least, all the insects in the neighborhood were well-mannered, and didn’t bother us a bit as five of us had a driveway-to-driveway meeting with Ryan, the lawn mowing neighbor man. We talked about various app and platform ideas, and projects generally, and he dished about our neighbors, House Phil and Van Phil, the men who live in and outside of the house across the street, respectively, that is. I was hoping to make a connection, network, see if he knew of any doors which a sputtering philosophy major could jam is foot into. The sensational job offers were neither here nor there, but our meeting was fun, and the future looks promising.

“Do you know how to use a shovel and a rake?” he asked me.


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