06 May The Fruit Flies Are Back

The fruit flies are back. Their arrival announces spring and I guess that’s a good thing. They bob and circle lazily over our kitchen sink. The odorous maw of our garbage disposal seems always to interest them. They hang like a haze at eye level as I make my morning juice. They piss me off.  Why? They’re in my way and they’re uninvited, like beach bum Uncle Teddy, who stops in unannounced and stays for two month and eats down your fridge as fast as you can fill it and never says “thanks,” much less offers to do the dishes or sweep the floor. Maybe that’s overstating my objection. Fruit flies don’t eat much. They don’t take up much room.  And, unlike uncle Teddy, they don’t barf on your carpet.  So what’s the big deal?

I have more tolerance for the ants. We get tiny ones. They’re called “pavement ants” because they live in the mortar of buildings and the cracks of sidewalks. Sometimes Jill goes after them with kitchen cleanser. I can hardly criticize her for this violence because sometimes I go after the fruit flies with spritzes of window cleaner, which knocks them out immediately.  Once, years ago, I grew so frustrated with the flies in my apartment, I spent two hours swatting them down in mid-flight with a rolled-up damp kitchen towel. When I was done, I was breathless and gratified and slightly disgusted with myself. The next day there were just as many flies bobbing and weaving and circling around my desk, as if I were the next treat they were to alight on.

There may be within us an aversion to anything that proliferates as much as flies do. We perceive in flies a certain arrogance as they boldly inhabit our space and flaunt their great number. I myself take delight in fly paper because it seems a just comeuppance to the bold and arrogant fly. When I see them stuck on a coil of tape like raisins embedded in cake frosting, I think: “Ah, there, serves you right!” This is silly, I know, but we’re talking about human perception. What could be sillier than that?

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