The great outdoors: majestic, mighty, murderous

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and the nice weather is coming with it. You might be tempted to make the most of it and venture outside. Obviously that’s a terrible idea. Do you have any idea what’s out there? Well neither do I, but I’ve heard about it in hushed whispers. So, in the interest of keeping you safe, here are the top three things I’ve heard are vying to kill you, gross you out or kidnap you outside this summer.

Allergies (and the Things They Make You Eat)

It’s that time of year again. Your throat is scratchy. Your eyes are red and weeping. You’re sneezing constantly. The pollen has returned, and you’re susceptible to allergies. You could take some medicine, but let’s face it, this is Portland, so there’s got to be some “alternative.”

There was a time when honey was considered the go-to alternative medicine for combating allergies. The premise is simple: Bees gather pollen from local flowers and take it back to their hive. The bees digest the pollen, barf it back up and voila, honey! By consuming the barf–I mean honey–you are also consuming the pollen which, in theory, builds up your immunity. It’s delicious, it’s nutritious and it has pretty much no foundation in actual science. But are you really gonna let that get you down? It’s so alternative!

Like most alternative medications that go out of style, honey has fallen out of favor because it just wasn’t a direct enough solution. You’re a busy person, and you need those fads—I mean medicines—to go straight to your veins! Enter pollen pellets, balls of pollen that bees roll with their chitinous little legs, harvested before the pollen can be ingested. Now there’s a world of options open! So the question falls to you: If you’re going to go outside and face allergy season, what alternative method will you choose? The vom or the yoga ball? Better yet, why not stay inside, sucking at your air filter until all of this just blows over.

Snakes, Insects & Most ANYTHING Smaller than You

Nature is an efficient monster. Make no mistake: Any species that has proliferated to the point that we know about it has done so by leaving a trail of bodies behind it. Evolution does not reward winning smiles and polite demeanors; it rewards whatever can bite the necks of the most things in rapid succession and with great aplomb. Consider, then, the number of very small creatures in the animal kingdom. They must be fabulous at killing things. Big things.

Let’s start off simple: snakes that look like the ground. What’s up with that? If nature is so warm and invigorating, why did it spawn an animal that is basically just a long, angry, poisonous syringe that you can’t see? Seems counterintuitive. Luckily, Oregon is home to only two types of poisonous snake, and they’re rattlesnakes. I respect rattlesnakes—at least they have the decency to warn you before they liquefy your tummy guts.

Snakes might be a rare sight in the Oregon wilderness, but ticks are pretty much everywhere. Recommended methods of removing ticks vary, with results that range from “probably safe” to “no, that will make it barf inside of you and you will get a disease that only deer should get.” There’s no reason you should have to suffer like a deer, the elongated rodent of the animal kingdom.

Ice Cream Vans

You’re in the depths of summer and the heat has come in force. You took the advice of crazy people who insisted “you don’t need an air conditioner” because “it’s only hot for, like, a few weeks.” Well, the weeks have dragged on and now you’re melting.

But lo, what’s that melodious, plucky tune? Could it be? It must! You run out into the street, wad of cash in hand. What do you see? If you’re lucky, you find a boxy ice cream truck containing a cheerful mustachioed man, who is ready to serve you ice cream in the shape of Ninja Turtles and who will probably wink at least once. In reality, you find an ice cream van.

You’ll know an ice cream van when you see it. They’re the unmarked, white vans with pictures of maybe-still-in-production ice cream putty’d to their tinted windows like newspaper clippings in a serial killer’s trophy room. You find them trolling neighborhoods like the sirens of yore. They sing their mournful tune, filling children’s ears with promises of sweets, but the only promise they can fulfill is that of Stranger Danger. I would advise you to stay away from ice cream vans, but it’s pretty obvious. They’re the only vehicles to successfully broadcast an aura of whatever the opposite of “come hither” is.