On Dogbite Friday yesterday, Patrick told about a time he was attacked by a very persistent wasp. It brought to mind my own recent encounter with a a member of that cruel tribe. I was at the neighborhood pool, and a friend asked me what was happening with my new book. I launched into a very involved monologue about The Charlatan’s Boy‘s place in American literary history when a wasp climbed through the hole at the instep of my right sandal. There were a very unsettled two seconds when I was bringing home some point about Twain and Hawthorne and me, but I also realized there was a wasp in my shoe. I knew I was about to get lit up, but I was so close to completing my thought. And besides, what could I do about the wasp anyway? If I tried to whip off my shoe, the wasp would surely sting me anyway. No, I thought, the best thing would be to maintain my composure. Herman Melville wouldn’t panic in this situation. For a second there I decided maybe it wasn’t a wasp after all; then I realized it coudn’t be anything else. Then I lost my train of thought and trailed off into a distracted silence while my interlocutor gave me a perplexed look. About that time the wasp had gotten himself situated, and he let me have it, and I switched from “man of letters” mode to “jumping and shrieking” mode. I couldn’t believe how bad it hurt. I hopped around for I don’t know how long and had a swollen foot for days. The wasp got completely away.