Somewhere in Missouri, PETA has just lost an advocate. A friend of mine, who shall be identified only as Kathy, had a life altering experience. Kathy has always loved animals. Hunting dogs. Horses. Their lone milk cow. A family of vultures that roost near where she takes her daily walks. But her sunny, pro-animal outlook changed this past summer when she pulled her one-piece bathing suit out of her dresser drawer and slipped it on.
Normally people don't wear anything underneath a bathing suit, but all that has changed for Kathy also, because snuggled in the crotch of her bathing suit was, of all things, a sleeping wasp. A wasp who was, might I add, very angry at being awakened from its nap. And far from discussing his feelings in a positive and constructive manner, this wasp took out his emotions on Kathy in the most sensitive place known to woman. Neither one was prepared for the situation, and in their surprise, I suppose it can be said that neither one handled things very maturely. When the dancing and screaming and stinging finally settled down, Kathy was a very sore and very bitter individual, and the wasp -- well, the wasp was dead. I don't know exactly how many times she went back to stomp on the trampled little carcass, but I can say with authority that its fate was quite final.
Urban legend passes along more such stories. The friend of a friend who alarmed everyone with the sounds of crashing and shrieking from the bathroom, emerging to tearfully reveal that she had, unbeknownst to her, been toting a spider around in her undergarments all morning. Another friend of a friend had a mouse in amongst her lacy underthings (she purportedly had a long, frozen stare-off with the mouse, then quietly picked up her cat, placed it in the underwear drawer with the mouse, and then slid the drawer shut to let them work things out on their own). Scorpions seem particularly fond of both bedrolls and boxer shorts. I know I've been assaulted by spiders in the bed sheets and my own father was once treed atop the toilet by a mouse. (He, too, had a cat in the room, however the cat was busy clambering for high ground as well.)
The best-documented, worst-case scenario of animals-where-they-don't-belong came out of a news article from Jacksonville, FL, also passed along by Kathy, to show that she wasn't overreacting. (Not that anyone accused her of it.)
The article described a woman who was hospitalized after being bitten by a poisonous water moccasin -- that had been hiding in her toilet. The article described the wound location as "thigh" but did not give more detail. Was this a bite received as she flipped up the lid? Did it happen as she "lowered her landing gear" and approached the toilet seat in landing pattern? Was the snake immediately assaultive as she neared the fixture, or did it hear the light switch click on in the bathroom and think, "Uh oh. Maybe if I sit reeeally still, she'll go away?" Was the snake sputtering, "Aw, okay, that's really more than I needed to know," as she took a seat, and did it only resort to striking out after the final insult had been delivered?
I'm very fond of animals, but I think some sort of peace accord needs to be reached here. A sort of Geneva Convention as regards bathing suits and the regions they cover. After all, humans know better than to get between a mother bear and her cubs. I think it's about time Kingdom Animalia returned the favor and recognized that human drawers (and I'm not referring to the ones in the dresser) are off-limits. To that end, I've devised a short folk song around which to rally my "panty privacy" platform:
Disciples of the path of Jain
Cause no living creature pain.
From whale to snail,
From gnu to gnat,
They won't harm a hair
On the tail of a cat.
But how kind would they be
If they were to chance
Upon vermin ensconced
In their underpants?
It is harder, I think,
To be as kind
To a creature that's creeping
Where the sun don't shine.
My love for all creatures
Great and Small
Is entirely dependent on
Where they crawl.
Electric fencing is impractical, but if comes right down to it, I'm installing some. Right beneath the barbed wire perimeter.
Comments and animal-proof undergarments to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.