The naked truth


The phone call came early Friday morning. Because of charitable donations our business had made, The Wife and I had received an award from the local area baseball team. The plaque could be picked up at the head of the sponsorship committee’s house.

Picking up an award not interesting enough to keep you reading? Well. then, what about yours truly stripping off his clothes in front of a strange lady, dancing around a porch for the whole world to see, and The Wife not even getting mad?

Besides, when I told The Wife what happened, she was too busy laughing to get mad. Thought that would interest you. Unfortunately, this story is painfully true.
It’s been said that clothing makes the man; in this case the clothing makes the story. With temperatures well into the 90s, the outfit for the day was dress shorts, a cool button-up shirt, and new tennis shoes. Looking rather presentable, I left around 2 in the afternoon to be presented with the award.

The head of the sponsorship committee’s red wooden front porch spanned the width of the old country house. As I rang the door bell, I admired the restoration that was almost completed on the 1918 home.

Yellow clapboard siding had been scrapped and painted, old untamed bushes that surround the porch were now trimmed and neatly manicured, and overhead, two new ceiling fans turned lazily, providing a cool breeze in the hot afternoon air.

The sponsorship head was in a meeting so her assistant, a nice lady, answered the door and presented me with the award. We stood out on the porch for a while and talked about future support of the team.

We were almost finished when I noticed that something had crawled up my shorts and had no intention of stopping short of my nether regions. So I did what anyone would do. I slapped my hip hoping to kill said intruder. Bad idea – that’s when said intruder stung me and, undeterred, continued its advancement.

I grabbed the varmint through my pants and squeezed really tightly thinking this action would put an end to our little skirmish. Nope, wrong again – said attacker simply stung my hand.

What happened next really wasn’t funny. Not knowing what was going on, the nice lady had taken a few steps back. I think she thought I was having a medical emergency.

The plaque held in one hand was quickly thrown up into the air and bounced off the wood flooring. Then I started a high-stepping dance across the red wooden porch all the while still being stung by the undercover attacker. I continued slapping to no avail.

Then I stripped off clothes and emitted a deep guttural sound that, I must admit, even sounded alien to me, “BEEEEES!”

Pants left on the front porch, I hobbled my way back through the still open door – following the lady who was now nowhere in sight. She was obviously seeking refuge from the mad man dancing across the porch with no clothes on.

As I closed the door behind me, I gazed at the pants now ten feet away. The bee crawled out unscathed, looked at me, and flew off. In this epic battle of man vs. stinging insect, the stinging insect had won. And I was indeed a sore loser.

The six stings up my leg and across my backside started to swell and had literally brought me to my knees. That’s when the nice lady returned and handed me a cigarette. I managed a meager smile and informed her I didn’t smoke.

“No, crush the tobacco, mix it with water and the juice will take away the stinging,” she said.

With no pants, on my knees, in a strange lady’s house, I really didn’t want to argue and cause a scene. So I did what she said.

Besides, the stings were really starting to hurt. And I knew that bee was out there laughing his little stinger off. This battle wasn’t over yet. The quicker I recovered, the quicker I could go back outside … and recover my pants.

Surprisingly the tobacco and water mixture really did help to ease the pain. Enough so I was able to rescue my pants, gather my unbroken plaque, and make a strategic retreat back to my car. And live to fight another day.

Some may ask if standing there on that porch with pants around my ankles, cars driving by, and facing a lady that wasn’t The Wife, was I embarrassed?
Nope, suddenly I thought of my mom. Now I know that may seem a bit strange, but then again, if you’re a regular reader of this column that should come as no surprise.

Forty-five years ago, Mom knew this day would come. And the advice she’d given me had finally come home and made sense, “You never know what’ll happen out there in the world. So make sure when you leave the house you have on clean underwear.”

Thanks, Mom, for such timeless advice.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]