Ashley Ream
Dispatches from the City of Angels

I'm a writer and humorist living in and writing about Los Angeles. You can catch my novel LOSING CLEMENTINE out March 6 from William Morrow. In the meantime, feel free to poke around. Over at my website you can find even more blog entries than I could fit here, as well as a few other ramblings. Enjoy and come back often.
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Favorite Quotes:
"Taint what a horse looks like, itís what a horse be." - A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

"Trying to take it easy after you've finished a manuscript is like trying to take it easy when you have a grease fire on a kitchen stove." - Jan Burke

"Put on your big girl panties, and deal with it." - Mom

"How you do anything is how you do everything."


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My very, very, very, very, very bad day

I was eating my faux chicken patty, watching the Food Network, minding my own business when I heard it. It sounded like a boat motor coming from outside my sliding glass door. I stood up and looked out.

Hundreds, literally hundreds, of bees were swarming my patio. The sound was deafening. There were so many the air was black and the walls were crawling. It looked like something out of a Stephen King movie, out of a when-animals-attack television show, out of a nightmare. And it scared the living crap out of me. I ran through the apartment slamming windows closed, and then I did what any sane woman would do. I called my husband at work.

(I save the strong, independent woman face for times when I'm not being threatened by a deadly cloud of stinging insects.)

Me: "Thereareamillionbeesonourpatiorightnowveryscarydon'tknowwhattodo. Help!"

Sometimes, despite his best efforts, your husband doesn't really know what to do either. "Call the apartment complex."

So I did.

Me: "I have an emergency. There are a thousand bees swarming my patio. I'm concerned for the safety of myself and my neighbors, anyone at all who opens a window or goes outside."

Them: "...um...I can get the bug guy to come out next week..."

That's when it turned itself on. I didn't try. It just happened. Every woman has one. We learn it from our mothers even if we don't actually have children ourselves. It is THE MOM VOICE, the don't-make-me-come-in-there-turn-this-car-around-knock-your-butt-into-next-week-if-you-embarrass-me-in-public voice.

Me: "No. This is an emergency. Call animal control if you have to, but this needs to be addressed RIGHT. NOW."

Them: (a little scared) "Let me call the bug guy."

Me: "You do that."

Then I spent nine hours staring out my window with an ever increasing sense of paranoia at the bees that seemed to be setting up shop in my decorative patio bench/storage box. I worked at a newspaper in Florida during an Africanized bee scare, and I hadn't realized how much I still remembered from our coverage.

It turns out you can only do bee work at night when all the bees have gone to sleep or at least settled down to watch Letterman. So at 8:30, the bee guy showed up looking, thank the Lord, very professional.

Me: "Thereareamillionbeesonourpatiorightnowveryscarydon'tknowwhattodo. Help!"

Bug guy: "Let me take a look."

Wearing only a dress shirt and pants, he walked out onto the patio where the bees, no longer swarming, had been. He leaned close to the box and then took a step back. "Oh yeah, I hear 'em. Don't worry, ma'am. I've been doing this for almost twenty years. Be right back."

The bug guy went to his truck and came back wearing the full-on beekeeper getup and carrying a box full of poisons I'm pretty sure are only legal in a few rural provinces of China and then only if you know whose palm to grease.

Armed, the bug guy went out and lifted the lid on my storage box. This is - more or less - a family blog, so I can't reprint what he said. But I will say, he jumped back about three feet, pulled out the cans of bee death and started spraying in all directions like a crazy person. I stood safely on the other side of my sliding glass door watching with my mouth open and knowing full well that if things went bad, dude was on his own. (I never said I was brave.)

Seven - I counted - cans of poison later and sweating like a polar bear in a sauna, the bug guy was triumphant. The last man standing. He turned slowly surveying every inch of the walls and ceiling, careful there wasn't going to be an ambush and then lowered his weapons.

"I'll be back tomorrow, ma'am," he said, "to do the clean up."

The next day, I watched the bug guy, sans bee suit, use a trowel to scoop the dead bee carcasses out of the box. And scoop and scoop and scoop. I swear to God if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have believed it. He filled a plastic grocery store sack with them. Filled. It. Turns out my estimate of hundreds of bees was a little low.

Whatever the heck the bug guy charged the apartment complex, it was worth every freakin' penny. Long live the bug guy.


P.S. I'm admitting now that all my patio plants are probably going to die because I am never going out there to water - or do anything else - again. Ever.


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