Saturday, September 2, 2023

Uncomfortable Situations: The Wasp in the Changing Room

AI-generated illustration collaboration.
My senior year in high school I was a bus boy at Fiddler's Elbow, a prestigious private country club in Bedminster, NJ. Bedminster has historical significance dating back to the Revolutionary War. It has maintained distinction by being a high end community with private homes owned by some rich and famous (Jackie O, for example). On Burnt Mills Road there was a polo field for the equestrian-minded. By means of zoning, the township kept its rolling hills populated with only the best of the breed. 

Doug Paretti is the one who recruited me to be a bus boy there. His aim, I suspect, was to bump up staffing in preparation for Mother's Day, an always busy weekend at this ritzy, high end facility. I served a little over a year there, from Mother's Day to a month after that the following year. It was, for me, a significant experience on many levels and I learned a lot about the bigger world beyond my neighborhood and my school.

When Doug left that summer I was selected by Annie, the head waitress, to be lead bus boy, perhaps due to my attitude and my work ethic. 

Membership at Fiddler's Elbow gave you the right to host a major event at the club one day a year. Weddings were frequent. As Christmas neared there were parties almost nightly from December through January. 

From Spring to Fall most of these parties would be held outside under a tent which served as a canopy for the swimming pool. The large in-the-ground pool was never used for swimming though. A wide dance floor had been built across the middle of it. Tables ran along the sides. On the far end, away from the Revolutionary War era mansion, there would be microphones, mixers and speakers brought in for the entertainment. 

On one occasion that entertainment consisted of a famous group of Polynesian or Hawaiian dancers. I can't recall the name of the troupe but there was a "Big Mama" headliner and six to ten attractive dancers whose purpose was to mesmerize.

To prepare for their performance we bus boys set up some folding panels to create a private changing area for this contingent of young exotic performers. 

During one of the costume changes Annie, the head waitress, came running over to me and asked me to take care of "a situation." I asked for more details, and was told that there was a wasp in the dancers' changing room.

Well, I was 17 and not prepared for what came next. 

I entered the changing area where all of these women were in mid-costume-change. That is, they were topless. They were in an agitated state because of this pesky wasp flying over them and through them and above them again. 

My eyes were focused on one thing only: the wasp. I watched as it circled, gliding this way and that till it finally descended. To my horror, it landed directly on the tip of the nipple of the young woman standing next to me.

After briefly sizing up the situation--I don't know if the women were staring at the wasp or at me--I lifted my arm, opened my hand and with a perfectly aimed downward motion, I swiped the wasp from her nipple and as fast a a game of hot potato I was flinging the wasp out into the night.

Surrounded by smiles and thank yous, I made a hasty retreat. I still can't believe I didn't get stung!

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