Why I’m Afraid of Bees
Series number: 17
Number of pages: 117
Release date: March 1994
Tagline: He’s no ordinary human bee-ing
Did I Read It as a Child?: No
The Story On the Back
Right brain. Wrong body. Gary Lutz needs a vacation… from himself. Bullies are constantly beating him up. His only friend is his computer. Even his little sister doesn’t like him. But now Gary’s dream is about to come true. He’s going to exchange bodies with another kid for a whole week. Gary can’t wait to get a new body. Until something horrible happens. And Gary finds out his new body isn’t exactly human…
The Story On the Pages
Gary Lutz is a klutz. And he’s scared of bees. His klutziness makes him a loser, his fear of bees makes him a super, mega loser; especially in the face of living next door to a beekeeper. He decides early on in Why I’m Afraid of Bees that his life sucks and doesn’t want to live it anymore.
Someone take away this kid’s shoelaces!
So Gary goes to while away his misery with like, something like World of Warcraft (because it’s 1994 and WoW won’t be released for ten years) and he gets a pop-up ad about life vacations, where you switch lives with another person and you can be them for a week.
Being the idiot twelve year old that he is Gary goes to the address that’s featured on the pop-up ad. Though he is probably clinically depressed, so maybe he’s hoping something goes down at this weirdo internet pop-up company?
At the life vacation place, Gary learns this isn’t just a house swap, this is a full on mind swap with another person. And Ms. Karmen, the woman running the business, has just the person for Gary. His name is Dirk Davis and he wants Gary to pass his summer school math classes for him.
Gary agrees, because apparently his life sucks worse than math, and Ms. Karmen goes to Gary’s house with her equipment to do the procedure. But as it always happens in the Stine-verse, it’s not that easy. The equipment goes on Gary’s head while a bee is close to him and his mind goes into the bee’s body, the bee’s mind goes into Dirk’s body, and Dirk’s mind goes into Gary’s. So that’s a ⅓. That’s a fail. That’s a 33%. Karmen should clearly be doing this in a safer, more sterile environment! I’m a stickler for health and safety, what can I say?
Some bee-related stuff that’s not even a little bit scary later and Gary discovers that Dirk is refusing to give back his body because he likes Gary’s life. See Gary? Your miserable life wasn’t so miserable after all–you’re just a bitch!
To get his body back, Gary decides to swarm Dirk with his fellow bees. But Dirk isn’t scared of bees so it’s all pointless. In his frustrations, Gary stings Dirk. Thing is though, he’s a honeybee and those little bastards are the only ones that die when they sting. See, their stinger is barbed and honeybees have to actually rip out their own intestines to get away after stinging something. They got a raw deal.
But somehow, as Gary lay dying, he wakes up in his own body. But it wasn’t just a dream, the shock of a single bee sting was enough to reverse the mind switching and send all the minds back to their proper bodies. Because magic.
Also, fuck that bee that Gary was in, amrite? He was just an innocent bee thrust into these circumstances and his body was used and abused to solve all the problems of the more important human characters. There’s something to say about race in all this, I’m sure of it!
Everything is back to normal at the end, with Gary’s life being much improved now and him not being scared of bees anymore. And he also enjoys the eating of pollen now because somewhere along the line his DNA got a little bit of bee in it and now he’s… well he’s got bee DNA in him.
I’m sure having bug DNA is fine. That’s bound to work out for him just fine.
Here’s a question I need answered ASAP: are there actually people on Earth as clumsy as writers make clumsy people? Think of a bumbling character and then think if you know any real person that can match it? Because I can’t! I don’t think people like that actually exist. How could they? Who would survive that long being the type of person that tries to lean against something and falls?
I bring all this up because Gary Lutz “the Klutz” is that type of character. He’ll try to do something cool like ride his bike without holding onto the handlebars and crash into a pole, or try out a skateboard and flip off it before he’s even got both feet down. He’s also irrationally scared of bees and likes to read pulp-fiction type books. So really just the typical klutzy nerd character that writers will bring out as a quick way to create a little character/reader bonding.
Thing is though, I don’t bond with Gary. I’ve never seen anyone come close to the level of klutz that this boy is at. I’ve also got no sympathy for people that are scared of bees. If you’re allergic, I won’t mock you for it, but Gary isn’t. He’s just scared of bees.
The little fuzzy balls of buzz that roll around in flowers all day and dance when they want to communicate.
And speaking of bees, I guess they’re also characters I should mention? It’s either that or Dirk
Diggler Davis and I’ve got nothing for him. So bees it is!
They’re, um… bees. They live in a hive. They make honey from pollen… they’re also… yellow and can fly. They have no lines and do nothing in the story besides look at Gary angrily. But that’s totally just the little freak projecting emotions onto them because we all know bees are chill. Don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.
They literally just want to smash their faces into pollen and then smash their faces into other pollen.
Spooks and Scares
Are you afraid of switching bodies with a bee? No? Then Why I’m Afraid of Bees probably won’t scare you. Even if you are actually afraid of bees, Why I’m Afraid of Bees probably won’t scare you.
Now the question is, could this have been scary? Sure, give it to David Cronenberg and have Gary burst out of his twelve year old human skin and be a terrifying bee-human monster. Have the technology be a bigger part of it as I’m more interested in Ms. Karmen than I am with Gary or Dirk. But we don’t get that. We get a book desperate to try to make a situation where a boy in a bee’s body is suspenseful and scary. It’s in this desperation that Why I’m Afraid of Bees becomes what it is.
Which is less The Fly and more Freaky Friday with a boy and a single bee.
I guess get an epi-pen?