A nature lover at heart, I wouldn’t hurt a flea—but a fly . . . yes!
I have never heard anyone voluntarily, or under duress espouse the virtues of the common fly. I understand that they are part of creation just like me, but that doesn’t give them the right to pester, pollute and perpetrate everyday acts of annoyance on innocent people. Actually, my disdain for the fly goes way back.
When I was just a kid, our family often visited Aunt Polly on the farm. (You may remember that I waxed eloquently one day about my memories of her glorious barn.) Cousin Bill and the boys would pull an old hay wagon into the back yard where the day’s meals were served—family style as you might imagine. Those dishes that could tolerate the heat of the day would just sit there (appropriately covered of course), so we could graze to our hearts content as the day wore on. I remember being annoyed by the flies that also frequented that barnyard buffet (never really getting to the food, but annoying the heck out of me just by their malicious intent). One misplaced cover, and they would be on it like flies on . . . well, the outhouse was just down the path from the back yard—and not far enough away for my taste. It was then that I concluded that the household fly was pesky business indeed, and a force to contend with.
So here I am in Italy many years later, and I realize that a fly is a fly the world around. Even though they are called mosche, they’re still flies. Believe me when I say that I have tried to get along with those nasty little creatures despite my bias from early childhood. For example, when we record music in the studio, frequently a buzzing fly is heard somewhere in the room, which just doesn’t work with sensitive microphones around. I have actually been quite successful eliminating them by using a humanitarian technique taught to me by our English friend Joanne. All you have to do is ask the fly nicely to leave you alone, since you have work to do. Suggest that if they go outside and play for a while you would really appreciate it. Almost without fail, and to my astonishment, they buzz right out the door within seconds. Incredible! But that technique doesn’t always work, so I’m sometimes forced to bring out the big gun—my flyswatter!
I hate to do it, but they leave me no choice. Not to brag, but I have become quite proficient with that handy little weapon of self defense. But, you know they say that “a workman is no better than his tools.” Well . . . the significance of that saying has never been truer than in sweet Italia.
Several years ago, I bought my first fly swatter here. It was a pitiful thing to behold, especially in the hands of an expert. It was made out of the flimsiest plastic I have ever seen, and then as if that’s not enough, it had a flexible hinge attaching the handle to the “swat pad” (that’s my own term). So when you put full force into the “swat,” the energy is completely dissipated through the swivel action. Needless to say, it’s like trying to strike the fastest insect in the world with a wet noodle. C’mon! Is that the best they can do? The answer is NO—sort of.
Scouring the insect implement stores in Tuscany, I found a newer model (of course I had to pay more) that had a somewhat sturdier design which promised to be capable of a heartier hit. I was so impressed I decided to buy two to have one handy at all times and at all locations. Yesterday, I tried it out for the first time on some especially pesky lunch guests. The frantic buzzing had momentarily stopped and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had landed on the wall next to the door.
An easy mark with that black fuzzy body and wirey little arms, he rested unaware in stark contrast to the peaceful Tuscan yellow stucco. My new attack weapon was close at hand. Stealthily gripping the handle, and with all the focus and accuracy of a master marksman, I swung the swatter with all of my might toward that nasty little beast. As my tool of destruction silently sliced through the air, I heard a strange snapping sound. It seems that the strike force was too great, thereby causing the red rubber swat pad to release from the wire handle, landing about 20 feet away in the nearby bushes. I was left facing my enemy with two thin silver wires pointed in his direction, like I was going to a sausage barbeque. He looked at me with snobbish disdain and then darted away.
I hate to be a quitter, but I’m not really up for locating another swatter here in the land of wimpy implements. Perhaps I’ll work on perfecting my sweet talk technique since it’s been the most promising to date. A call to Joanne for a tune-up on the latest in spiritual technology might help—surely there have been advancements since we last talked. On second thought, maybe if I simply speak Italian, they would be more open to my encouragement and kind suggestions.
I’ll keep you posted.