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The first wasp was only slightly concerning, as any wasp in December would be.
I was reading a book when it appeared. It landed at the end of our bed, and as the designated bug killer, my wife immediately alerted me to its presence. It didn't offer much in the way of resistance, with my biggest issue being trying to kill a wasp on a king-sized bed with a paperback book. I eventually pinned it under the book, ran to the nearby bathroom to grab some toilet paper, swept the wasp onto the floor where my paperback would do slightly more damage, snuffed it out and grabbed it with the toilet paper.
The next two really count as one, both as far as my wife is concerned and for the purposes of description. They were within a foot of each other on the floor, both on their backs and in the final stages of what was probably a painful descent to death, and I was their Dr. Kevorkian. As not to alarm my wife -- or rather, further alarm my wife, since two wasps was already alarming enough -- I told her the two were just one, and actually swept one under an adjacent loveseat rather than make two trips to the trash can and alert her to the third's presence.
I don't know what makes a pattern, but upon hearing the fourth wasp buzzing around above our headboard we knew this was more than coincidence: our cozy cabin, meant to house us for a relaxing getaway ahead of the holidays, had a wasp problem.
We found ourselves at a crossroads. We'd only been in the cabin for a few hours at that point -- we were talking about ordering dinner when the fourth wasp appeared -- and we could likely get our money back if we decided to go elsewhere. But as noted, it was a.) dinnertime and b.) already dark, and my pregnant wife was a.) hungry and b.) not enthused by the idea of packing up our car and heading to a decidedly less-cozy hotel. That we were close to an hour from a lot of those potential destinations -- the whole point of a quaint cabin is that you're not close to much -- made relocating even less attractive.
After some deliberation, which looked very similar to resignation to our plight, we decided to stay. I threw some shoes and my poor book at the remaining wasp -- shout out to Michael Lewis' "Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Parenthood," which did yeoman-like work on this night -- and we ordered some dinner. We were in it for the long haul.
The rest of the night wasn't perfect -- the food took longer than expected because one of the Bavarian pretzels got dropped on the floor, and the toilet tank alternated between constantly running and not refilling at all -- but it did the job; we relaxed. My wife may have set the record for number of bubble jet baths in a 24-hour period. I read most of a book for only the, like, third time since my five-year-old son was born. We slept longer than we have in roughly five years. We left refreshed.
There was a fleeting moment, in the hours and days that followed the Michigan State comeback win last year, that the trajectory of Lovie Smith's tenure at Illinois could have followed a similar path to my Saturday night.
Things started out sketchy. The natives were restless. The train was dangerously close to going off the rails.
Then things leveled out. Looked up, even. It wasn't always sunny, but the gray clouds were more few and far between. It was ... palatable, nice even.
Except, the wasps didn't stop coming. Killing them provided only temporary relief, but the nest remained.
The wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State last year were like when the protagonist in the horror movie is being chased but narrowly escapes being caught, jumping from the bank into the rapidly-moving river. (I doubt this is a thing, but I don't do horror movies.) A few miles downstream she breathes deep and begins paddling toward the shore, convinced that the nightmare is finally over.
And then a pair of arms reaches up from the water and drags her under.
I didn't watch the Iowa game. Not live, not on replay. I watched the eight-minute highlight video that FS1 or whoever made and posted to YouTube. That's the extent of what I know about how the game went.
Instead, I'm watching "Scrooge" while writing this. Not "A Christmas Carol," but "Scrooge," the 1970 musical starring Albert Finney as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as Jacob Marley. It's my favorite version of the story, almost certainly because it's the one I grew up with. (My dad instilled in my sister and I a love of musical theater; I've been jealous of Robert's seemingly effortless "Les Miserables" references for years.)
It is, of course, the story of a lost cause -- a man so far gone that an intervention is staged in hopes of saving his soul. Though the night gets dark and it seems like he'll be doomed to eternal hell, the intervention works; he's saved, and in time for Christmas Day no less. Hope endures.
Speaking of which -- it's almost Christmas, isn't it?