Humor Non-Fiction posted March 16, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Fly in the ointment...


by kiwisteveh

My darling wife - bless her cotton socks and frilly knickers - is a sensitive soul.

She's sensitive to pain, she's sensitive to annoying noises, and she's sensitive to irritating people. Oh, and rap music, which, if you think about it, is all of the above wrapped up in one hyper-aggravating parcel.

Right now, all her sensitivities are focused on flies - the insect kind, not the trouser kind. A few months ago, the prognosticators foretold that, due to a pest of a boy called Nino, we would have a long, hot, dry summer. Prognosticating is not an exact science. As you might guess, we have had a mild, humid and rather rainy summer. I'm not sure if flies and other insects are great Biblical scholars, but it's the kind of weather that makes them want to go forth and multiply - exponentially - in plague proportions.

Add to that, that we live in an idyllic rural location - in other words, surrounded by cow-paddocks (or fields, or pastures, or whatever you may call them in your idyllic rural spot) Now, while it is undeniably pleasant to have the great, lumbering beasts mooing and munching and peering serenely at you over the back fence, it is also true, in the words of one of my poems, that:

The average cow, on an average day, emits a small mountain of waste;
And then multiply, that's a mighty big pie of mucky and yucky green paste.

All of that adds up to flies - lots of flies!

Now, most people find flies a nuisance. I, myself, have been known to swear at one that landed on my nose, and if the darn things start crawling around the rim of my coffee cup, I may have to lazily flap my hand at them to shoo them away. Twelve years living in Australia means I have also perfected the Aussie salute. SWMBO, on the other hand, turns into the Terminator at the first sign of a fly - usually its distictive buzzing. Her weapon of choice is a can of fly spray, the bigger and more potent, the better. She is happy to use up half a can on a single, prolonged assault on the flying foe. My timid attempts to assert that one squirt per fly is already overkill, or that it is futile to de-fly a room if you are going to spend the rest of the evening in a different one, only serve to infuriate her and increase the twitchiness of her trigger finger.

Deranged, though she may be, during the fly season, SWMBO is a model of foresight during winter. Every time we go grocery shopping, she manages to sneak two or three cans of toxic bug-killer into the trolley, so we are well-supplied with weaponry when the buzzing hordes descend upon us. In fact, for a short time at the beginning of summer, flies were in short supply, well out-numbered by the 147 red, black and yellow cans neatly stacked in ominous rows at the back of our supplies cupboard. By mid-summer, when the buzzing aerial onslaught reached its peak, our chemical arsenal stockpile began to be depleted.Then, a few weeks later - disaster! We ran out of fly spray.

First came the frantic ransacking of the house to confirm that Armageddon had actually arrived. Five empty cans were found on various window-sills. Two more were unearthed from down the back of the couch. A half-dozen rattled and clanged out from under the bed, accompanied by a cloud of dust and some startled mites, quite unused to the sight of a broom. Behind the refrigerator, on the bookshelves, under the sink, in the car... A full array of nine was discovered, set up for an impromptu game of skittles in the garage. The awful truth could no longer be denied - we had no defences against the winged armada.

Next came the improvisation of new methods of destruction. SWMBO prowled the house and workshop like a calculating lioness, searching for anything that could be used to swat, splatter, crush or bludgeon her antagonists. Wisely, I removed hammers, mallets, chisels and all power tools from the battlefield, before improvisation turned into demolition. Finally she settled on a series of fly-annihilators fashioned from rolled up newspapers. Armed with one of these insecticidal truncheons in each hand, she patrolled the premises, swiping wildly at anything that could conceivably have been a fly, while I followed, anxiously trying to protect windows, TV screens, vases, ornaments and great-grandma's heirloom tea-set from the determined and prolonged attack of this avenging angel.

An hour or so later, SWMBO collapsed wearily onto the couch. Evidence of the massacre was smeared on the walls, spattered on the doors and splotched on table-tops and door-frames. I fetched her a reviving cup of tea. I knew I had to act quickly before the enemy re-grouped.

"My dear," I crooned, "you drink this and have a wee rest. I just need to pop out for a while."

Before she had a chance to reply, I was out the door and in the car, accelerating down the driveway. Did I mention our idyllic rural surroundings? The nearest potential stockist of fly-spray open at this hour, was a service station in a small town, twenty miles away. I made it in record time, swept their entire stock into my arms and paid the exorbitant price they demanded without blinking. We would go without food for the next week, but it would be worth it.

Back home, I hauled the sack of fresh ammunition into the lounge-room. There was SWMBO sprawled out on the couch, deeply asleep, but with a smile of triumphant victory on her face. And there, preening himself on her nose was a solitary fly. I swear he winked at me, as I tiptoed from the room.



SWMBO (pronounced swim-bo) = She Who Must Be Obeyed. After the great African Queen in H Rider Haggard's books 'King Solomon's Mines' and 'She'. Later adopted and expanded upon in the books and TV series about Rumpole of the Bailey.

Aussie salute - the wild waving of the hand in front of the face to dispel flies.
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