Questions we've all wanted to ask of the ubiquitous insect, with honest answers
|ME: O.K. let’s cut to the chase. I heard it said once that an optimist is someone who actually believes the fly is looking for a way out of your house. This suggests, of course, that a pessimist is someone who believes the fly is there for the long run and plans to land on as many food items as possible, regurgitate fly stomach fluids and lay eggs. What’s the real story? What are you guys up to when you buzz endlessly from one end of the house to the other?
FLY: I’ll try to be brief. Not only because that is a question with deep philosophical implications and could take days to answer properly, but because flies have about the same life span as a detergent bubble and I could be dead before we get anything resolved.
Mainly, the endless buzzing through the house thing has to do with attention span. The average fly has none. Therefore, by the time he has reached, say mid-house, he has forgotten where he started from and what the heck he’s doing there in the first place. Why does he just keep going as if there is some destination in mind? It goes right back to the optimist-pessimist thing. Every fly in the world is hatched with one burning purpose in mind - to find that Grand Kahuna pile of waste material that is going to change his life forever.
ME: What is a fly’s greatest natural enemy?
FLY: I would have to say glass.
FLY: Yeah. You’d think that with as many eyes as we have it would be easy to see that stuff and avoid it, especially in those houses where the owner has never even HEARD of Windex. But it’s a story that endlessly repeats itself. Fly goes through house seeking refreshment, sees light, goes toward it and WHAP! Sudden unplanned stop with absolutely no warning.
ME: Hurts, huh?
FLY: What do you think, Einstein?
ME: There’s no need to be impolite here.
FLY: Sorry, it’s just that if you happened to run into an invisible barrier with your head maybe 300 times a day, instantly compressing it into a space that could not be comfortably occupied by an amoeba you’d be a little surly too.
ME: Nothing personal of course but that’s got to affect the old IQ a little bit too.
FLY: Well certainly it would if we kept our brains in our heads.
ME: Where are your brains located?
FLY: Well, its kind of an involuntary evolution thing. After that first collision with the glass, our brains are usually relocated to about where a liver would be found on any other living creature.
ME: One thing I have to know. Why the mouth? Why does every fly I encounter go directly for my mouth without hesitation. In fact, I can see that you are fascinated with it as well. What gives?
FLY: At the risk of sounding redundant, let me briefly reiterate my point about a fly’s burning, inborn need to find that one waste dump that is going to change him into an eagle among flies, the fly messiah if you will. Your mouth has many of the legendary properties of that fabled place.
ME: Your saying my mouth smells like...?
FLY: If your mouth was a store, it would NOT be Flowers R Us.
ME: Moving on... Where do you guys go in the winter? I’ve never seen flies traveling in a giant V toward Mazatlan in the fall. What’s the secret?
FLY: Did they teach you to ask stupid questions in Interviewer School? Do you think it would be a secret if every fly on earth just decided to blab about what has been a carefully guarded tradition for ages? If I were to tell you the answer to where we hide in the winter I would be hunted down and tied to one of those giant mints you see in public bathrooms.
ME: If you tell, I’ll let you sit on the edge of my coffee cup and rub your legs in front of your mouth.
FLY: OK. We hide in exercise equipment and behind diet cookbooks.
ME: I knew a guy in Idaho who kept those sticky fly traps in his hog barn and at the end of each day would scrape them off into barrels. Last time I checked he had three fifty-five gallon drums of dead flies in the corner of his barn.
FLY: This was in Filer, Idaho right?
FLY: He’s famous in the fly world. We use him as an example to scare our kids. We tell them if they don’t behave, we’re going to send them to Filer.
ME: Does it work?
FLY: You’ve forgotten what I said about our attention spans. Mostly the little maggots start hopping up and down and asking if they can take a friend.
ME: Anything else you can tell me about Fly culture?
FLY: Well, we have these sayings like “I would have loved to have been a human on the floor when that happened,” or “better keep your human zipped up,” but for the most part we don’t get together and socialize enough to establish much of a culture, not to mention the fact that a whole bunch of us tend to be born and then almost immediately meet our makers for one reason or another. It’s a hostile environment out there and it can be stressful. Heck, one minute you can be watching a human holding his screen mesh on a handle thingie and the next minute you’re strumming your little fly harp.
ME: That brings to mind my last question. Do flies believe in an afterlife?
FLY: You mean, is there something on the other side of that windshield? Oh yes, most flies believe there’s this huge pile of...
ME: Whoops, out of space. Next time: Interview with the Alien. Who REALLY makes those crop rings?