Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Standard Issue Male

A fire ant simultaneously biting and stinging (Internet image)
In a comment to my blogging colleague Packrat on his blog Desert Packrat (, I mentioned that I had once had a horrific encounter with fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) that could have threatened my life and about which I never (at the time) told my wife Kali.  I figured that I had related this story in a previous blog post, but Packrat told me he didn't recall the story.  So, here goes...

When I lived in Florida (1981-1988), I worked for a state agency that sponsored and conducted research on phosphate ore surface mines.  My responsibilities were related to reclamation following mining.  Very early in my career, I was working with an ornithologist who was investigating the value of flooded phosphate mine pits for wading bird habitat.  I agreed to help this investigator perform some field sampling, which involved screaming across the surface of the mine pit lakes in an airboat at night.

As dawn approached after our nighttime foray, we brought the boat into the landing.  It was still too dark to see much, but I soon realized I was standing in a fire ant mound because the ants were crawling up my leg and stinging me.  The stings were uncomfortable but not as painful as a wasp or bee sting, so I took off my pants and brushed away the myriad insects.  We finished packing up, and then I got in my car and began to drive home with the intent of cleaning up and catching a few winks before I went into work later that day.

As I was driving home, I started to feel dizzy but, heck, I had just been up all night, so I didn't give it much thought.  When I got home, I stripped off my clothes, took a shower, and realized I was feeling really dizzy and nauseated.  I laid down on the cold bathroom tiles wondering if I was going to pass out.  Kali asked me what was wrong, and (like a typical [stupid] "tough guy" male) I replied, "Nothing.  Just let me lay here for a few minutes."  Actually, I was in pretty bad shape, but I still rejected Kali's requests to help.
This is how my legs looked (Internet image)
I never did pass out, but I was pretty miserable.  In short, I probably was going into anaphalactic shock, and poor Kali would not have known what the heck was happening.  

Why do guys behave this way?   


robin andrea said...

That is quite a story and that photo is wild. What a crazy experience to have. I'm really glad that you didn't go into shock.

I have to admit that when I saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to write about the Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 to lure a lion out of a national park in Zimbabwe to horrifically kill it. I'm not sure that he is standard issue male, but there is definitely something in that Y chromosome that provokes some mind-boggling behaviors.

packrat said...

A scary incident, Scott. Both of those images you posted give me the creeps.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I read that the Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil has closed his dental practice. That's good. Kali and I had a long conversation about the pros and cons of "shaming." We both agreed that it is completely warranted in the dentist's case.

I figured that if I went into shock and Kali had to call for an ambulance, the folks at the emergency room would have known what had happened when they saw my legs. Still pretty stupid thinking, huh?

Scott said...

Packrat: Of course, I was behaving unconscionably stupidly. It's a good thing I didn't put Kali into a difficult situation--both for her and for me.