I’m Not Saying Anything About the Schmidt Pain Scale


but if I did, it would be aaaaaaaah. wild: one man’s quest to document & describe the pain of every ant & bee sting. what really gets me are his descriptions—red fire ant: sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch. Indian jumping ant: Ah, that wonderful wake-up feeling, like coffee but oh so bitter. I scroll the Schmidt Pain Scale & in a flash I remember my grandfather shaking out pills into his hand one morning TH marked on the seven-box set the odd pop of them ricocheting into his mouth with the hand-clap the salted peppered sludge of homemade tomato juice he chugged them down with                     I used to think I wouldn’t use a pillbox like that till I was his age
on the Schmidt Pain Scale a glorious velvet ant bite is described as instantaneous, like the surprise of being stabbed. Is this what shrapnel feels like?          the red paper wasp: distinctly bitter aftertaste—after I’d lost any chance to hear grandfather’s gruffness, his sister mentioned the mental illness that tunneled its way through the family tree, the honeycomb clusters of sisters & fathers & mothers & daughters         the Western honey bee is described as burning, corrosive, but you can handle it             I think someone lit herself on fire
bite of the (non-glorious) velvet ant: explosive and long-lasting, you sound insane as you scream tarantula hawk’s sting, ranked at an even higher level, was called blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. Lie down and scream               a fact casually dropped in conversation was: the woman who went through what we now call electroconvulsive therapy                  when Schmidt was stung by the warrior wasp, he asked, Why did I start this list? called it torture                the knowledge I will be medicated for the rest of my life does not hurt like a digger or sweat bee, does not scream like a warrior wasp                      instead, it’s the dull sting of an ant bite—bright and high, sharp as gasoline but fading almost instantly, as Schmidt might say—first one                       then another
               then another

Gretchen Rockwell