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To Bee or Not to Bee

By Mary Oves

On the first Saturday of my writing residency at the University of Dayton Marriott, there was a bee in my hotel room.

I immediately Facetimed my oldest son.

“Honey, there’s a bee in my room.”

“A bee? What floor are you on?”


“How did a bee get into your room?”

“I left the window cracked.”

“Your hotel room window on the third floor opens?”




“Then how did the bee get into a window that doesn’t open?”

“I opened it.”

“Is this an Abbott and Costello routine?”

“I needed fresh air. I used my eyelash curler to unwedge the metal piece that prevents the window from opening.”

“Can you put it back in when you leave?”

“I’m not sure. The metal kind of broke off.”

“I see.”

“So what should I do about the bee?”

“Um, kill it?”

“What if it doesn’t die and then seeks revenge on me while I sleep?”

“Insects don’t seek revenge.”

“There’s a whole coterie of screenwriters who devote their lives to disproving that theory.”

“So catch it and release it.”

“I can’t catch it, what if it stings me?”

“Jeez. Where is it?”

“Here in the room.”

“No, what part of the room?”

“Oh. On the glass part of the window.”

“So catch it in a cup. Do you have a plastic cup?”

I looked around and saw two Styrofoam coffee cups.


“Slide it into the coffee cup, put the lid on it, and then release it out the window.”


I propped the phone up on a coffee mug facing the window, grabbed one of the two plastic cups, and managed to trap the bee in it. But each time I slid the cup to the open window, when I would pick the cup up off the window surface, I couldn’t get the lid on in time, and the bee would fly out, angrier each time.

Finally I had the bee trapped, lid on, and I released it out of the cracked window. It flew back in, and I screamed as it dive-bombed me. In my terror I dropped the cup out the window and ran screaming to the bathroom. I could hear raucous laughter coming from the phone.

Of course I felt shame sitting in the bathroom, who wouldn’t? Three days on my own and this is what I’ve become, I thought? Hiding in the bathroom from a bee?

No, I decided, this is not how I’m going out.

I marched, confidently this time, back out into the room, and saw that the bee had once again taken up residence on the window, oblivious to the fact that six inches above him was the promised land of pollen and popsicle faces.

To the sound of my son yelling through the phone, “You got this, Mom!” I grabbed the second coffee cup and trapped him. Not willing to take any risks and not really thinking it through, I threw the entire cup out of the window, and watched as it flew three stories down, right near the first one and right at the feet of a couple who were trying to enjoy a glass of wine on the hotel patio.

“What the hell, again?!” The man jumped up and stared towards my window.

I yelled down to him.

“Look, I’m really sorry. But would you mind letting the bee out of that cup? He’s been through a lot, so be careful as you release him.”

They looked at me, back at the cup, and then back at me, and I heard him mutter to his wife, “Is she kidding?”

Embarrassed, I drew the blinds across my window, but at the last second my foot caught the edge of the bed. I tripped and pulled the drapes halfway off their pulley. Startled, and in a very undignified manner, I fell to the ground to the sound of more laughter emanating from the phone.

Rising, I turned to see my son and his friend laughing but staring worriedly from the screen.

My son’s friend turned to him. “How long is your mom writing in Dayton?”

“Two weeks,” my son replied.

His friend shook his head.

“She’s not gonna make it.”

— Mary Oves

Mary Oves, a college English professor in Galloway, New Jersey, mother of three grown sons, and a freelance journalist and blogger for the past 35 years, is one of three 2022 grand prize winners of the Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program.

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