Parting Glances: Fairy tale for ex-butterflies

by Charles Alexander

At opposite ends of a small-minded garden, where diva birds formerly came to warble ballads and crickets chirp ragtime syncopations, there were ominous nests hanging in the trees.

One for hornets. One for wasps. Rival factions, whose ages-old rivalry centered on what was the truly sanctioned method of stinging. Quickly, exhorted the hornets. S-l-o-w-l-y, preached the wasps.

Wisely, bees (ruled by a beneficent queen) rarely bothered stinging, provided no tangible threat to hive or honey comb occasioned. They kept to themselves, content to buzz in other flowered fields and neon'd blooming spaces.

Yeah, verily, the hornets and wasps were an eternally contentious, noisy, nettling bunch...

Each high-strung, thinly papered nest believed collectively only its denizens had the right to rule Mother Nature's realm. Even so, both factions kept distance from the other, leery that the others sting might be the more lethal.

(It was a dogmatic, but pragmatic, sting operation. Don't sting thou me. I won't sting thou thee. All others, fair game. "Fear us - avenging wasp, mean-spirited hornet - or be stung!")

So said, once on a languid summer day a careless HB - human being - wandered democratically into the garden, but hastily left, first pursued by a brigade of wasps, then by a cavalry of hornets. Fleeing, the HB left the garden gate - a pearly colored, creaky hinged affair - ajar.

And through that breach on a cloudless July morning, an idle collection of butterflies floated and flibby-gibbited in, one somersaulting the other. Each butterfly more glittering than the last. Each finding a chain of sunny daisies or a fence picket of bright daffodils to cruise.

At first the hornets tried to needle the intruders away, but the butterflies flitted about so much that it was impossible to needle them. The wasps tried to pin prick them, also to no avail. The butterflies - exceptionally happy creatures - annoyed the stinging pests no end.

As the saying goes: Bugs of a stinger ofttimes bugger together. (Or, something down low like that.) And so, the two angry factions called a truce, spending the day thoughtfully zzzzing, ssssing, whizzing. What to do about those damnable butterflies that flit, flit, flit and pay no attention to us? They plotted, twisting their terrible, twittering antennas together.

A suggestion was made to shut the gate. But to do that an HB with arms, legs - strength - was necessary. Both factions agreed. HBs are anathema. (Good only for stinging.) After much contentious zoom-zooming back and forth, the hornets and wasps decided on a course of action to net the butterflies for good.

Together, the hornets and wasps zipped low-key among the butterflies, hymn singing out in formation, "Welcome to our little Garden of Eden. Stay while summer lasts. Enjoy the silly-willy flowers here.

"But pray, do tell. Here's honey-coated advice. This is only a small garden; but there's a really big one beyond the sunset. When winter comes, you'll want to migrate there. It's perfect for creatures who lack busybody nests and stingers like ours.

"There's one condition," admonished Spokes Bug No. 1, suppressing a hard-on urge to strike, sting and sting again. "You must become a MOTH. (Made of Tendencies Hiving!) Let us make you over. A little drab at first, perhaps. But a step closer to being the real thing. Namely, US! Hornets! Wasps! Ah, blessed bugaboo!"

Butterflies being what they are said to be - free - mostly ignored the offer. They just line-and-petal danced away. But a very, very few, foolishly believing - or fearing - the stinger's tale, found themselves sadly MOTH mimicking. Even feasting on threadbare rags. (And, unfortunate to tell: When fall came that year, their mothball closet smelled almost to high heaven.)

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