Al Batt: Let the games begin — fly season has returned

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt


There are no flies on me.

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There is no greeting card expressing that feeling, but it’s a great way to spend time. It brings cultural enrichment.

I saw an endcap in a store offering flytraps for sale. In those days of yore, such a trap would have been a bear trap. You know how we remember things from our childhoods — they were much better, worse, bigger, smaller, more or less than today.

Back in the day, we didn’t have digital devices to capture our attention. We had flies instead. Many flies. Ninja flies. When the weather warmed, we replaced the storm windows on the house with screens. The screens had just enough tears to allow entrance to any housefly seeking asylum. It was impossible to keep them out.

Flies came to bask in the radiance of our sweetness. Sure, let’s go with that. Getting inside the house was another small step in their quest for world domination.

Flies filled houses, barns and cafes. A local waitress offered to put a spider in my soup to keep the flies out of it. I found a beetle in a bowl of soup once. It was the fly’s day off.

I had a Venus flytrap in my bedroom. She was a good listener. I named her Velma. She was a good roommate, other than that time she tried to eat my dog. She ate no flies as far as I was able to discern.

It could have been worse. Termites could have been literally eating us out of house and home. Woodpeckers the size of pterodactyls could have been hammering hula-hoop sized holes in the siding. Mosquitoes that moonlighted drilling wells, could have hunted us down. One of the smaller neighborhood skeeters landed at the Hartland International Airport and before he realized his mistake, one of the crack staff there had put 60 gallons of airplane fuel into it.

Flies were willing to take their chances in our company. Such an adventure had been their ambition since they were maggots. We were flyswatter-toting folks. That’s how we canceled flights and it gave us something to do when there was nothing good on the three TV channels we received. If we’d had fitness trackers in those days, we’d have piled up steps while carrying flyswatters.

We used flyswatters because they worked better than hatchets for swatting flies and we didn’t own golf clubs. Had it been left up to me, baseball bats would have been involved in the extermination of flies.

“Swat a fly and call it a day” was one of our many family mottos.

Times have changed. Some days, there are more flyswatters than flies in our house. That’s because of the gimme flyswatters with advertising messages on them. I doubt that my wife and I as a married couple have ever purchased a single flyswatter. I was 8 years old once (for about a year) and that was the year we went on a family shopping trip to buy a new, high-speed flyswatter featuring improved accuracy that would allow me to practice my lightning fast draw.

A friend named Stinky was a frequent visitor to our home. Stinky wasn’t his given name, but it suited him. We liked it when Stinky came for a visit during the fly season. Stinky and a bathtub had little in common. When he left, the flies went with him.

Statler and Waldorf are a pair of Muppet characters known for their cantankerous opinions and ruthless heckling. The told men in the balcony seats jeered the cast and performances. We hung sticky flypaper in prime routes for fly travel. We heckled the flies as if we were Statler and Waldorf.

Sooner than later, I failed to duck, and flypaper became stuck to my face. Not the worst thing. It was a measure of growth.

I traded a flyswatter once. Sort of. A muscle-bound fellow a few years older than I was made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. If I gave him the flyswatter, he wouldn’t give me a bloody nose. I was so amazed that he’d taken time away from roasting a goat over a fire made from dried cattle dung that I gave him the flyswatter.

I was OK without it. I found another. Everybody I knew owned a flyswatter. There was no license or training required. Most folks kept a spare swatter in reserve.

It’s fly season. Let the games begin. Remember, time flies even when flies don’t.

There are no flies on me.

So put that flyswatter down.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.