It was the end of June, a hot and humid morning on the southern Dream Beach¹ of Tartous. I slept alone and rather erratically, having watched Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in the FIFA World Cup Final the night before. A bunch of friends and I had consumed plenty of beer and whatever leftover bottles we could find in the secluded chalet. I had a terrific hangover and couldn't tolerate even the smell of coffee. Instead, I gazed at the endless expanse of blue from the western terrace then walked lazily on the warming sand. Only if someone could stop the goddamn spinning, I wished. I threw myself in the tantalizingly refreshing water and surrendered to the sensual fingers of the undulating waves. The salty breeze and the engulfing wetness brought me back slowly and without coercion to awareness. My muscles relaxed. The pounding in my temple eased off. What a glorious day ahead, I mused.

I had nothing to do or worry about. My immediate concern was to secure some basic form of breakfast. There were eggs in the fridge, Labneh, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. After filling my stomach with solid food I could return with a book, a beach umbrella and a towel to my favorite spot where the soft breakers came to rest at my feet. I needed a pair of slippers, I thought, for the round trip to the chalet. The sand would be getting hotter and hotter by the minute as the sun rose unblinkingly higher and higher. I would read for an hour or two then go back to the chalet. In some kitchen cabinet there were at least a dozen cans of various types of junk food and olive oil. I saw a knot of bread² and potatoes over the counter. I will throw in something with the potatoes and have lunch straight from the skillet. The plates were piled high in the sink, unwashed. Sure, the place was an absolute mess and in dire need of cleaning but it wasn't something I was willing to lose my precious time over. I would clean a knife and fork, yeah, that I would need. The telephone line was out, oh thank goodness for that. There will be no interruptions. No calls from anyone to join me or for me to join them. For the afternoon, I schemed, suspended on my back like a dead porpoise heaving up and down on the surface of the sea, I could fill the icebox with cold beer and fasten it to the inflated inner tube of a car tire. I would then tie the tube to the folding chair placed knee-deep in the water. I would aptly sit and the chair would sink down evenly until it settles firmly so that the water is at the perfect nipple level. Ahhh, I'm so smart, so efficient at minimal work, I'm a damn genius, I beamed with pride and delight. Two, three beers down my belly, I would contemplate the meaning of life and probably nap. I would need a baseball cap and my sunglasses to minimize the glare. Ooooh, what a glorious day indeed.

I ran back invigorated. It was time to execute this perfect plan of mine. My eyes caught the reflection of the sun in the mirror of the parked Yamaha. My brand new cherry colored 135RX beckoned at me: Come ride me you hunk of a male, she whispered. With less than a 100Km on the odometer, I couldn't resist the seduction. Should I have breakfast first, I wondered. I didn't think so. I couldn't keep her waiting much longer and I was getting very excited myself. Ok baby, your man is coming, I smiled at her like Clark Gable. I was wearing only my wet shorts, absolutely nothing else. They weren't even swimming trunks, just plain blue, cotton, sexy and very short shorts.

She purred at my first kick-start. She was too hot and bothered to be warmed. Take me for a spin darling, she begged, give it all to me. I smiled again, more idiotically this time, a little like Tom Cruise perhaps. The road down the Dream Beach strand of chalets was as close to a ¼ mile drag race stretch as we could ever have in Tartous. It was much longer and narrower though and offered plenty of opportunity to go wild on two wheels. There were only me, a horny motorcycle and hot asphalt as far as the eye could see.

I fore-played the petite Yamaha and watched her RPMs going up and down the green range of the dial. Her purring changed into whining then screeching moans of ecstasy. Oh damn you take me hard, take me all the way, red-line me now, now, now....... she screamed. I gave it all to her and her needles rose into an insane frenzy of speed, 120, 140, 156, 57, 58, 59, aaaaaaahhhh 160 km/hr, OMG, yeS, yES, YESSSSS. My tears flowed, hair pulled back, lips twitching, my nipples tormented with the rushing onslaught of pinpricks... and, and... up ahead in the distance, 50 meters or so, straight forward, a tiny dot was approaching from the opposite direction at an unbelievable pace. I could see it getting bigger and bigger while at the same time I was realizing fully that I could never take any evasive maneuver anymore. I remember that split of a second as if it was shot with an extremely slow motion camera. How could I forget.

I mentally surrendered to the fateful impact. A nanosecond before we collided, the maniacal Kamikaze took a vicious dive to maximize the damage. My recognition of the identity of my assailant and his death happened at the exact same instance. He was hideous, evil and yellow, an Asian giant hornet who flew all the way from Japan to avenge his honor. Evidently it was too much for him to digest the sight of a Japanese bike and a Tartoussi guy going wild with each other on a beach road. Goggled, bandana-ed and scarfed, he flew his last mission for the glory of Japan. He extended his 6 mm stinger, released his lethal cytolytic peptide venom as he was squashed into oblivion against the soft tissue of my balls.

The blow was so powerful I felt as if I were kicked in the crotch by a heavyset and ugly Russian soldier from one of the Bond's movies. I released the throttle instantaneously. I had to crawl on all four, take the fetal position and die somewhere on the shoulder of the road. The Yamaha finally came to a complete stop. I laid her on her side and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY I screamed, a demented soul rolling and turning in the dirt like a butchered animal. My first thought was how far the chalet was. A couple of hundred meters, I guessed, in heart wrenching agony. After what seemed to be an eternity, probably five minutes in real time, I summed what was left of my strength and limped back in the saddle of my bike to my hole in the ground. I stepped in the chalet, closed the door behind me, pulled down the shutters and shades, collapsed on the floor and lost consciousness in the darkened room.

The poison flowed in my bloodstream and my temperature rose dangerously high. I swam in a pool of sweat as my whole body was taken by a fit of shivering. Paralysis spread from my loins down through my legs and up toward my chest. I dosed on and off and suspected seeing the grim reaper at the edge of my vision. A long spell of hallucination followed leaving me clueless as to the passage of time. It was pitch black outside when I leaned on my elbow, crawled to the sofa and managed to switch the light on. I was swollen, all of me. An allergic reaction to a massive dose of venom left me like a useless lump. I could hardly breathe as I looked in dismay at my swollen shorts. The lump was the size of a softball and if you're not familiar with softball, suffice it to say that it's at least twice as large as a baseball and not by any means softer. My legs buckled underneath my weight and I lost my mind completely. Nightmares and delusions shone, flickered then dimmed like ignes fatui as the night and half of the following day consumed themselves. A little before sunset on the next day I was still in the exact same spot on the floor but my eyes regained focus and the fog in my mind began to dissipate. I removed the remnants of the martyr and his stinger off my left ball. He had a wicked grin on his face the sonofabitch. I was still pretty swollen and multicolored like an old Bollywood movie when I took off my shorts but I knew that the worst had come to pass.

A little before midnight, after a cold shower and a gallon of water to drink I sat quietly in the night enjoying the quivering image of the moon on the gentle surface of the sea. The air was moist and pregnant with untold secrets and I could hear the echoes of laughter in the distance. My temperature and heartbeats were gyrating closer and closer to normalcy. I was still weak and shaky but feeling much better. Will I ever be the same, I wondered. Twenty three years later and I still don't have an answer.

Dream Beach = Shate'e Al Ahlam
Knot of bread = Rabtet Khebez


Isobel said…
And the moral is...don't wear swim shorts while driving like a maniac on your motorcycle? NO!! Wait! I know...don't get distracted by sexy motorcycles when on your way to doing something just as stupid as you might have done on the the bike? No...hmmmm...don't drink beer when there's a possibility of being stung by a wasp? Oh! I give up...

You are the king of storytelling, Abu Fares!! This was, indeed, riveting.
Dania said…
Wow... abufares!
You know when you attend a stunning play or when you just finish a marvelous book, you fall into this sweet silence for a while?
This is how your fabulous story left me… silent, satisfied and pleased.
Cheers dear Abufares!
Anonymous said…
Auch! It is miracle you are alive : ) Crazy still, but alive!

Life is good.

w.b. yeats
Katia said…
Ok, at the cost of sounding malicious... this was extremely funny! But ouch!

Btw, "a secular humanist from Tartous": I love this one.
KJ said…
Unless your kids start sprouting wings I think you pretty much survived!

But why are you blaming him for your misfortune? For all we know, that little dude might be off to see a fellow Tartoussiyeh bee, and you ended his life and shattered her dreams.

Put yourself in his wings. You're enjoying a nice summer day when before you know it you're flat against a giant creature's crotch at 160 kilometers per hour.
Allie said…
I'm sorry. I know this must've been a terrible experience, but I laughed loudly while and after reading it.
Gabriela said…
I'm sorry to admit I laughed too.
You kept my interest right from the beginning of your narration.
Could you please tell me what is Labneh?.
Abufares said…

My face brightens up with a huge smile when you're the first to comment on my posts.
But it seems as if this one pinched a nerve or something.
It's either that you cannot accept the fact that I was young and stupid once (I might still be young:-) or that you are actually worried about me. Both scenarios are wonderful for my self esteem.

A king???
Only a queen can make feel this way.
Abufares said…

Cheers to you. Oh My! Am I blessed with the right company today or what? I'm so glad you liked this post. Sometimes a mosquito brings back so much memories and along with being in the right frame of mind... a good story comes to life.
Abufares said…
@w.b. yeats

It wasn't a cobra WBY just a hornet. But being the sensitive guy I am, I was deeply shaken by the experience, LOL.
Being crazy is a clear indication that the sting either didn't affect me at all or that it improved me in some subtle way.
Abufares said…
I was waiting for the first "fully" honest comment and here you are at last. All 3 ladies before you had a fit of laughter when they read this post. For some reason they didn't know that I was LMAO while remembering and writing about the events which took place on that fateful day.
And thank you for noticing my proudly displayed: "a secular humanist from Tartous". I was inspired by someone so very special.
Abufares said…
I thought that only Red Bull really gives you wings.

Why am I blaming him, you asked. You should've seen the smile on his face. He died happy and I told you that he was wearing a bandanna. What more do you want? Why are you taking his side, damn it.
No wonder I love women more, they are either sympathetic or laugh at you but they never blame you for the death of Kamikaze.
Abufares said…
It was a terrible experience in 1986. In 2009, it's a hilariously funny story... even to me :-)
Abufares said…
Promise me if I ever come to Lima you wouldn't let some crazed Peruvian Poison Dart Frog bite me at or near the same spot. Ouch, that would really hurt before it kills.
I'm glad you enjoyed my stupidity.

Labneh, Gabriela, is my favorite all time food. It's plain yogurt, with much of the water removed to make its consistency that of sour cream for instance. We usually put the yogurt in a cotton bag over the sink and let it drip overnight. Then we use pita bread to eat it with olive oil and a little bit of salt. It' simply sooooo delicious and we eat so much of it for breakfast.
A Labneh sandwich is heavenly. Labneh spread over ... oh that's enough!!! Sometimes my mind wanders and get me in trouble :-)
Anonymous said…
Oh, being the daughter of a Neumologist that specializes in allergies. I meant that it is really good that you are not allergic to bee stings, otherwise you would have died, (perish the thought).

I'm wondering, after all the events, how did you managed to ride your bike the next day?

w.b. yeats
Abufares said…
@w.b. yeats
I know what you meant I was just playing the hero ;-)
I didn't ride my bike for the next few days actually. My first contact with the rest of the world was when my friend came over on the 3rd day to check on me.
I spent most of that summer on the beach rarely going to town and that phone line was not fixed until the next season if my memory wasn't affected by the sting:-)
Karin said…
Ouuuuch!!! I mean it's not that I can say "I know what you mean" but I can vividly imagine the impact of this Kamikaze-like attack!

What spontaneously comes to my mind is an attack I suffered once pn a VERY sensitive spot: during the 70's, when I was visiting a friend of mine who was a teacher for horse-riding, I went to the stable to see the animals and pamper them with carrots ... till one horse which obviously was bonkers and had a serious behavior-disorder, flipped the ears back in a split-second and much too fast for me to even realize what was in the making, turned around and bit me in ... my left breast! As if this was not enough painful and horrifying for me - this bastard must have learned from sharks: you bite and never let lose! It started to violently shake me up and down like a wet washcloth and I subconsciously braced myself for loosing this very important part of my body .. till all of a sudden, it threw me in a corner turned around and acted as if nothing ever had happened. It took me all I had left to crawled out of reach of this monster and finally made it to my friend who was of course horrified to see me like this: bloody, white in my face like a bleached sheet and barely conscious and about to crash. She accompanied me to her room ... and that's all I remember. I finally woke up on a bed - after I don't know how long .. I guess from raging pain.

To make a long story short ... the very important part of my body finally recovered after having been heavily bruised, gone through the entire spectrum of a beautiful rainbow (with black to start with!) - and almost skinned and is perfectly fine.

Anyway - I had to throw in this story ... there are too many parallels!! I feel for you dear friend ... I really do!! :-)

You're a FANTASTIC story teller ... how about writing a book?? :-) (I got started ... !!!)
Mariyah said…
Oh! What a colourful event! I always wondered what happened, and now I know. :P (LMHO) Oh, how you made me laugh, Abu Fares! Thank you!!
Isobel said…
Just glad you lived to tell the story...all of your stories, Abu Fares! :) I think we were all young and stupid once, weren't we?
Gabriela said…
That Labneh sounds good. Maybe I'll soon try my very first Tartoussi (is it a Tartoussi delicacy?) meal. I'll let you know.
And about the poison dart frog, I guess there is nothing to worry about if you just visit Lima and don't go visit any place in the Amazonian Jungle.
Abufares said…
I guess riding a horse together, you and I, and searching for honey is out of the question, LOL.
Your story is much more horrific since the attack itself lasted a few seconds. Mine happened so fast I didn't have time to get scared.
Animals, like people, are very unpredictable.
Abufares said…
Ahh, here comes my melting girl (the one who melts me that is).
LYHO wouldn't do it! I'd rather you LYAO so that I can watch and enjoy the view.
If you think that "now you know" I believe that you might be in for a big surprise ;-)

One question, how come you keep disappearing every once in a while.
Abufares said…
So you took the easy way out, didn't you?
The "Young and Stupid" path rather than being worried about me.

Sigh... I can't have everything I want.
Abufares said…
Labneh is a ubiquitous Levantine food (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine). However, the Tartoussi version, like the Tartoussi man is THE BEST!
If I ever come to Peru I want YOU to take me to the Jungle. It's up to you to leave me there and run away. BTW, that is how the Peruvian Tarzan legend would begin...
The Syrian Brit said…
Vintage Abu Fares!..
Absolutely and delightfully hilarious!...
Abufares said…
@Syrian Brit
I'm delighted by your visit since you haven't been here for a while. Oh, but wait, even if you drop by for every post I would still be delighted.
As this story is one in a long chain of mishaps I might still have more to come.
Dubai Jazz said…
Well, this is indeed funny and vintage to the extreme. You must have many of these up your sleeves.

btw, when you finally came to, didn't you carry out the simple 'testing & commissioning' technique for the balls? (if you know what i mean ;) )

"inflated inner tube of a car tire" also known as 'shembbrair' :)
Abufares said…
Shembbrair indeed! Any idea where the word came from???
I know the answer but it would be interesting to see who will solve the riddle first.

Back to your simple testing and commissioning, LOL.
NO! I just threw them into combat a fortnight later and if I'm not mistaken they won a medal for "Bravery Beyond the Call of Duty."
Dubai Jazz said…
hahaha...@ threw them into combat.

This reminds me of a friend, he got one of his nuts hit by a cricket (or a kirket) ball in one of the parking lots here in Dubai. After he chased the rowdy kids off and hit one of them with the bat, he sat down on the blacktop and cried from pain. He then went home and 'tested and commisioned' his equipments. Never needed to go to a doctor :)
Isobel said…
I'm sorry you misunderstood me, Abu Fares. :)
Abufares said…
But how did your friend perform under fire???
Abufares said…
Oh Isobel
I just reread your reply and if I'm not mistaken, I really like it.
Well, I'm a bit slow I know :-)
Joseph said…
Abufares, do we realise how fortunate we are? that you survived this ordeal (LMAO) and lived to blog about it! that more often than not you take us along on journeys of delight and stretched memory lanes...that you bring to us the sea and the smell of things...that you felled the boundaries and reduced the distances...

Some Joecartoon in memory of one unfortunate hornet:


XTR said…
Cool post AbuFares!
Talk about the adrenaline rush! Storming into the midst of bedlam!

Btw, check out my post on how to be a REAL MAN:

Anonymous said…
Abufares said…
I was away for a couple of days and couldn't reply to your comment sooner.
I'm glad you enjoyed the recounting of this painful memory and thank you for your words of praise. I feel so humbled.
Abufares said…
I checked your post and thank you for coming over.
Abufares said…
just so you would know, I could care less about Shaikhs, priests and certainly rabbis.
Thank you for dropping by although I could do without the dull link.
Joseph said…
No worries abufares...Wherever you were, I hope you enjoyed whatever you were doing. Keep on Writing.
Abu Steif said…
At one point I thought it is a new incident or may be a good 'Candid Camera' episode. As you as said after all those years it is funny but it was a hell of an experience.
Should I say I wish I was there to videotape your agony
I am late to this post ... but Oh the tears of laughter still sit on my lips! thank you for this one!
Abufares said…
@Abu Steif Habibi
You know I think this accident made me so much smarter. It infused my secondary brain (or is it the primary one,lol) with a magical elixir which turned me into a genius. See you soon my friend.
Abufares said…
Any possibility for erotica here???

I recently discovered your blog after reading about your masturbation campaign in Newsweek, and now I'm delightfully discovering your other posts. As a fellow countryman from Aleppo I have to say you make us proud!

A question pops to mind after reading you account of the painful events of that summer day in 1986, did the fact you'd been watching the World Cup (that famous Hand of God) just before that motorcycle stunt influence the chain of events that led that Japanese hornet to hit you head on in the balls?

Just a thought.

Btw, shambrair is a French term, properly spelled chambre à air (air chamber), better known in English as an inner tube.

3arassi Tartous!
Abufares said…
A chambre a air indeed, lollll.
Thank you for dropping by on this old post of mine. I'm glad you found my blog although in all honesty, The Masturbation post is one of my most ridiculous ones.

I think I had this incident shortly before the famous Hand of God goal. Nevertheless, it was a summer to remember.
I hope to see you around more often and...

3ala Rassi Halab wa Ahel Halab Kellon :-)

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