Historically, I do not have a good track record when it comes to the great outdoors. While I am an avid fan of National Geographic magazine and a lover of all things HGTV, the thought of actually leaving my home to interact with nature makes me more anxious than Howard Hughes during cold and flu season. My angst is not totally without provocation; I submit into evidence the following:
- 1979: Girl Scout camp. I fell into Lake Cleawox and got some weird inner ear infection from what I am still convinced was toxic runoff from the Hanford nuclear power plant.
- 1981: Camping trip with my aunt and uncle. Someone didn't check the expiration date on the Miracle Whip and my cousins and I spent the next 48 hours calling out the names of the states in our duffel bags.
- 1986: Cheerleading camp. We had a "sleepout under the stars" on our last night. Do you know what fire ants like? The smell of Aqua Net hair spray. Keep in mind that this was 1986. . .yeah, I think you can see where this is going.
- 1992: Attempted to learn rock-climbing with some friends in Central Oregon. Flash forward to the shot of me sliding 60 feet down a jagged rock face and landing on top of a drifter named Tad who smelled of patchouli and unemployment.
- 1998: While living in Phoenix, Arizona I arrive home one day to find a three foot rattlesnake in my hall closet. After shrieking like Maria Callas in late-stage labor and clambering atop my kitchen counter with my ex-husband's 9-iron, I called Maricopa County Animal Control to be told that I should be careful not to hurt it as they would come and trap it "humanely". At that point I was ready to go all Elin Woods on that slimy bastard because, fuck snakes, but I waited patiently. . .for three hours. . .on the counter.
- 2005: Woke to a sharp stinging feeling on my forehead and JESUS CHRIST THERE'S A GODDAMNED SPIDER ON MY FACE!!! I may or may not have raced around the bedroom shrieking and hysterically flailing my arms like I was having a seizure. I will neither confirm nor deny this rumor.
- 2011: Squirrel. In. My. Bedroom. (for the full story, see here)
So, by and large I have reached a cease and desist order with Mother Nature. As long as she keeps her shit out of my home, I will no longer attempt to hang at her crib. So, it was with no small amount of displeasure that I noticed a group of her homies had taken up residence in my living room.
It started innocently enough; the short people and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and the fact that my downstairs neighbor was back in rehab to leave our balcony door open.*
*Ordinarily the stench of Hood River Vodka and Columbia Gold drifting up from her place is enough to make my apartment smell like Tommy Lee's hotel room.
One night I was lying on my couch
watching "Dance Moms" reading Ayn Rand, when I looked up and saw a fly buzzing around my ceiling fan. Huh. OK. A little annoying, but not a huge deal, right? Yeah, that's what I thought until the following night when I was watching "Dance Moms: Miami" contemplating feminist theory and I noticed that Senor Fly had invited a friend over for the evening. Now this simply would not do. You see, my natural reaction when I see anything with wings that is neither a Boeing 747 or a maxipad is to smack it like a dime-store hooker, but these babies were too far from reach.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about animal rights and being cruelty-free and all of that hippy-dippy crap. . .*
*No, I'm not.
. . .but I only support the rights of the cute animals. Dolphins? Otters? Naked mole rats? I'll go to the wall for them any day. But if it's a showdown between me and a buzzing, stinging projectile it's gonna get all Arab Spring up in here. Every. Damned. Time.
By day three the flies appeared to be multiplying at an Amityville rate. They hovered above my couch like it was Occupy Ceiling Fan. You would think that turning on the ceiling fan itself might act as a deterrent to my new house guests. You might think that. . .but you would be wrong. Rather than being alarmed by the sight of five giant, rotating fly swatters careening toward their fragile exoskeletons, the flies saw the fan as their own personal teacup ride; thus turning my living room ceiling into The Happiest Place on Earth.
On day four I stood aloft my coffee table, staring down the Fly Girls like Dirty Harry. Oh, it's on like Saigon, bitches. Dylan McRenner watched me from the couch with detached amusement.
"Maybe this is just karma for all of the insects you've brutally slaughtered over the years." he smirked.
"I'm Lutheran," I replied, eyes still locked on my prey, "we don't believe in karma."
"What DO Lutherans believe in, exactly?"
"Potlucks and guilt." I climbed down slowly from the coffee table. "You may want to step aside because I'm about to bust out a CostCo sized can of Smack Down. I didn't scratch and claw my way this far up the industrialized food chain to commune with Mother Nature in my damned living room."
Dylan chuckled from his vantage point on the couch. "So, I'm guessing you won't be joining me on my next camping trip?"
I shuddered visibly. "Unless 'camping' is code for 'flush toilets and room service', then no."
"What's your beef with the outdoors?" he asked "You obviously don't have a problem with dirt, I've seen your car."*
*Yeah, yuk it up, Funny Man.
I sighed and plunked down on the couch beside him. "Nature's just so. . .unpredictable. It's like, any minute: BAM! Tsunami, dust storm, rogue spider web to the face. . ."
"So, it's a control thing." he concluded, nodding sagely. "Maybe you have a subconscious fear of the unknown and nature is just one giant ball of chaos. You don't like the outdoors because you can't control it."
"Interesting theory, Dr. Phil. Another would be that I don't like the outdoors because that's where the snakes and bugs live and I would like to keep it that way." I stood and planted my hands on my hips menacingly. "So, bearing that in mind, I'm about to get biblical on these motherfuckers. Are you in?"
Dylan sighed and shook his head slowly. "All right, Lord of the Flies. . .lead on."
I squealed with glee and raced from the room to amass my arsenal. When I returned, Dylan looked at the items in my hands with confusion.
"Are you going to style their hair?" he asked, gesturing toward the hair dryer in my left hand.
"Pfft!" I snorted disdainfully. "Obviously this will be used to corral the flies into formation."
"Obviously." he nodded "And the wrapping paper? Are you planning on giving them a hostess gift?"
I regarded him patiently. "I will use the hair dryer to scare the flies into a specific direction. When I do, you will be waiting with the vacuum cleaner turned on high and the upholstery attachment engaged. Since that attachment is only about three feet long we will first connect the wrapping paper roll to the end of it so it will reach the flies and the magical powers of Dyson technology will take care of the rest." I beamed triumphantly, thrilled with my pest-control acumen.
Dylan glanced at the ceiling briefly, then looked at me. "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'C'."
I thought for a moment. "Critters? Ceiling fan?"
"No, 'crazy'. Seriously, Jen, this idea is just one household appliance away from turning into an 'I Love Lucy' skit."
I smiled sweetly and patted Dylan's shoulder. "That's just because you're looking at this situation like a firefighter. Your natural inclination is to rescue and protect, while every strand of my DNA is screaming out to search and destroy."
He chuckled briefly. "Oddly enough, that's both disturbing and arousing."
"Hey," I shrugged "I'm a Renaissance woman. I can bring home the bacon and bludgeon you to death with the pan. We've come a long way, Baby."
"There's only one hole in your plan." Dylan said cautiously. I raised an eyebrow inquisitively and he continued. "You see, flies have 360 degree vision, which means that sneaking up on them with a Salon Selectives blow dryer is relatively impossible. And they have a reaction time of less than a tenth of a second; hence their ability to dodge a swatter like Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix'."
I stared at him blankly. "How do you know this?"
Dylan shrugged, giving me that 'aw shucks' grin.*
*Damn, that boy's a fine little grinner.
"I dunno." he replied "Just like I know that female fruit flies can live for up to 48 hours after their heads have been severed."
"Wait." I cried "Back. Up. They can live? For two days? Without a. . .head!?!?"
He nodded. "They continue to fly, walk, and even mate. But apparently without the ability to smell their partners pheromones they remain relatively disinterested."
I shook my head quizzically. "How do they know they're disinterested? They fake their orgasms? They leave the TV on during foreplay?"
"I don't know" Dylan laughed "maybe they stare at the ceiling and think of England. My point is, for whatever reason I know a little something about flies. So, please. . .put the flame thrower and the machete away and let me try something."
I snorted disdainfully and watched as he walked into the kitchen and unearthed a small plastic glass from the dishwasher He squeezed a hearty dollop of honey into the bottom, topped it off with bubble solution from M's SpongeBob bubble blower and set it on the coffee table beneath the fan.
"There!" he smiled happily, obviously delighted with his DIY project de jour.
I stared blankly. "Honey? Bubbles? Are you inviting them to a rave? Hang on, let me see if I can find them some Ecstasy and a glowstick."
"It's a trap." he explained, gesturing to his masterpiece. "The flies are attracted to the honey, they fly into the bubble solution, but it's so thick and gooey that they can't fly out. My grandma used to do this all of the time."
I squinted with distrust. "Isn't your grandma the one who wears safety goggles and thinks your name is 'Skipper'?"
"No, that's Aunt Betsy. Trust me, Jen. This will work."
Unfortunately, for me trust is a nebulous concept. Historically, the words 'trust me' have always ended in an astronomically nightmarish mind-fuck of David Lynch proportions, so that is a phrase that will make me run faster than Usain Bolt after a triple espresso. Nonetheless, I smiled, thanked Dylan, and left the jerry-rigged flytrap on the coffee table with minimal expectations. So imagine my overwhelming sense of awe when I awoke the next morning to see this:
"Holy CRAP!" I shrieked, gazing at the fly corpses with unbridled glee. "It worked! It really WORKED!"
Dylan laughed. "I told you it would." He smiled and handed me a coffee cup.
I stood, transfixed, shaking my head. "I guess it's true."
"What?" Dylan replied. "That it's OK to trust people?"
"No." I said, sipping my coffee thoughtfully. "That you really can catch more flies with honey than with a Dyson. . .or something like that."
"Admit it; you're ridiculously turned on right now, aren't you." he grinned, snaking his arms around my waist.
"I don't know about ridiculously," I countered, "but if you cut off my head I sure as hell wouldn't be thinking about England."