A recent visit to Indiana reminded me why I love California — no flies and no mosquitoes!
I was invited to participate in my church’s 140th celebration. It was a re-enactment of the groundbreaking that took place back in 1876. The location was on the banks of a small river in one of the city parks. While it was an honor to participate, my most vivid memory of the event was swatting the flies and mosquitoes from my face.
The temperature was about 85 degrees; however, the humidity was extremely high, which meant that I perspired more than I would have walking around downtown Tracy on a 100-degree day.
The perspiration (OK, beads of sweat) must have been nectar of the gods to the dozens of flies and mosquitoes that swarmed about. By the time the program was over, I was questioning the sanity of the organizers who had decided to hold this event outside. But a quick glance of the crowd around me demonstrated that I was the only one bothered by the bugs.
The women with the perfect hair held tight with tomes of hairspray seemed unaffected. The flies hovered harmlessly over the banquet tables of food covered with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Apparently, I was the tasty treat of the day.
Needless to say, a few hours later, I found myself back on a plane, anticipating a bug-free homecoming. Imagine my despair as I opened my suitcase and out flew one of those Indiana-born flies.
And this fly was annoyed. Apparently being cooped up for six hours didn’t suffocate him but merely agitated him enough to make the next 48 hours a living nightmare for me.
This fly didn’t merely fly about — he attacked!
He would fly about the room and then from 20 feet away start his assault against me. It was as if I had a bull’s eye directly on my forehead. He hit, I swatted, and then he flew away. If he had a voice, I swear he would have mocked me.
I would throw open the patio doors and run around like a mad man swinging a hand towel in an attempt to swoosh him out into the open. He wanted nothing to do with it. His purpose in life was to annoy me.
No room was safe. He’d hide for hours, and then just as I bit into a sandwich or started to fall sleep, he’d attack again, aiming right at the spot between my eyes.
After two days of bombardier-type attacks, he started to wear down. He could no longer fly high. He was losing his momentum. His attacks were now directed at my ankles. He would still hide, still attack in the still of the night, but he could no longer muster the strength to both fly and attack.
Finally, as I ambled out for my morning coffee, there he was, crawling across the kitchen floor. Still alive, but barely. As I reached for the dishtowel to administer that final swat that would propel him into the afterlife, I had a compassionate thought. I could gently sweep him up on a piece of paper and gently place him outside in the grass to enjoy his final hours.
But, then again, that sucker had to die!
• Thinking Out Loud runs every other week in Our Town. To reach Jack, write him at email@example.com or call 835-2244.