I was sitting quietly on the front porch reading a book, and for once in my life, even if was for the briefest of moments, I was bothering no one.
It was cool outside, as it tends to be this time of year, the summer-autumn “swing shift” in full gear, neither season wanting to take full credit. But it felt good. I was in shorts and a sweatshirt, just hanging out. Occasionally, a car would pass, or a neighbor would walk by with a dog or a small child, offering a smile and a wave.
It was, in a word, nice.
But not more than a few pages into my reading, company showed up, specifically, a fly. First, it buzzed around my head like it was searching for a spot in a crowded parking lot. I casually waved it away and continued reading.
A moment later, it returned, repeating its previous route around my head. Again, I waved, and it temporarily left the scene. This little routine repeated itself three or four more times before finally, the fly decided on its destination, finding a spot on my right hand.
I flicked, and it left, only to return seconds later, this time on page 155. This time, instead of reacting, I just watched it. For a moment, it just stood there, presumably looking off into space. Then, after rubbing it hands (I’m sure there’s a better word than “hands” for a fly's forelimbs, but thinking of a tiny insect with hands makes me chuckle), it started turning its body in that fidgety, restless manner flies do. First left, then right, then left again, two rights, and another left. This time, instead of flicking or waving, I slowly turned the page, and away it went.
This all happened in the course of about three minutes, or about 35 percent of a fly’s lifespan by my estimation, especially one that favors human interaction to sitting on and/or bothering other animals, sitting on sandwiches or fruit or taking a nap (if they ever do that) on a nice piece of manure or trash (depending on whether it’s a “farm-based” fly or an “urban” fly).
I kept reading, and it was nice, for about a minute anyway when, you guessed, it was back.
This time, after buzzing around my head, it decided to hang out in my hair. Now things were getting personal. I gave my hair a quick swipe with my right hand, and the fly “flew,” but not far.
In fact, I’m not sure it even flew so much as jumped because within a second, it had settled on the exact spot I had just shooed it from.
We fought about it – the fly and I – wordlessly arguing our respective cases both for and against it using my head as a resting spot. I won the battle (it finally left my head alone) but the war was far from over.
For 10 more minutes, the fly came and went, buzzing and landing, fidgeting and taking off again, only to come back and repeat the entire process on and around my person. Finally, I closed the book because I couldn’t concentrate anymore. This fly, while annoying, in a strange way had captured my attention, and as such, had won the war.
“What is it about flies,”I thought, “that once one finds you, it can’t – or won’t – leave you alone?”
Think about it, unlike a sandwich or a piece of fruit, a pile of manure or even an animal carcass (all great options for a young, healthy “go-getter” fly), I have nothing to offer it. It’s not like it wants something from me, like a mosquito wants blood. I don’t think it’s looking to lay its eggs on me, at least I hope not because I’m not on board with that for obvious reasons.
And, because I’m not food per se, manure or rotting flesh (I know that statement opens up numerous jokes opportunities at my expense; try and contain yourself), I can’t fathom why this pesty little creature wants to hang around with me, other than the fact that it’s bored.
I sat for a few more minutes before I had had enough. Rather than continue to swat at the fly or to kill it (I’m not into gratuitously killing animals regardless of their level of “pestiness”), I threw in the towel and went back in the house, where Joan was working at the computer.
“Hi, what are you working on?” I asked.
“Just some ... stuff,” she replied, not looking up from what she was doing.
I went into the kitchen and started a cup of coffee, and while I waited, talked to the dog.
Then, I popped my head back into where Joan was working, made a quick comment (about what, I don’t know), and went back to the kitchen.
Two or three more times, I walked back into the room where Joan sat, quietly occupied, not bothering anyone.
Then it dawned on me. At that moment – like in so many thousands of moments in my life with Joan – I, too, was the fly, buzzing around, darting here and there, that pesty little creature occasionally coming to rest but without any viable mission or reason.
Frightened, humbled and brutally self-aware, I quietly buzzed into the family room, where I came to light on the couch. But not for long because within minutes, I was up again, headed for the basement for something.
However, sometime between leaving Joan’s “perimeter” and arriving in the basement (the “something” was a wash basket), I came to another realization. I had just experienced karma, and while it sort of happened in reverse, it still made me realize how often I’mthe pest, the fly in the story. And while it didn’t excuse that fly’s behavior out on our front porch, it did make me realize that I was getting exactly what I deserved out on the front porch.
But as the fly (metaphorically speaking), it also helped me understand the real fly in the story, specifically, that it meant no harm to me, and in fact, maybe it was just bored or wanted to hang out for a while, doing what flies do.
(Who am I kidding? It probably wanted to lay its eggs in my hair.)
Anyway, the moral of the story is this: karma is real, and I’m a fly. Sorry, Joan.
© 2019 David R. Haznaw