Thinking of houseflies all week, I was starting to see them everywhere. But I still couldn’t come up with anything to say. But in an early morning light, I looked around and was astonished to see how I could recognize some of the bugs of the world in the people of my life. It was a little bit scary actually. But, it got me to thinking that if I could see this then most everyone could probably recognize some bugs in their own lives too.
My first thought was that houseflies are just annoyances and to be sure, there are PLENTY of people in my life I would categorize as an annoyance. Coming to mind first is, of course, in-laws and I think ex-husbands and wives would fit in here too. Consider it, you keep batting them away but they always seem to avoid that one good shot when you think you’ve actually gotten them and always show up again. In-laws and exes are just something to be suffered through much like a housefly. Actually, in thinking about it, I’d rather just deal with the housefly.
Another “housefly” that comes to mind is the leftover roommate from my oldest son’s college days. He seemed to adopt us the first time he came home for dinner with our son and his other roommates and even now, four years after our son finished college and moved across the country, he is still hanging on to us. We won’t hear from him for months and breathe a sigh of relief and then (kind of like the movie JAWS), “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”….here he is again wanting to come for dinner and willing to drive the 2 hours to get to us. He sings to us while he visits, imitates people he knows and we don’t with a very shrill voice that grates our nerves, and never seems to know when to leave. It’s a loooong day when he comes.
With the housefly explored, I moved on to other bugs. I began then to think about the earthworm. Earthworms move extremely slowly and are slippery and hard to get hold of. For certain, here on the Eastern Shore, I can definitely see a lot of earthworms in the workers I deal with who never seem to return calls until days or weeks later and even after that seem to decide on a whim when to finally show up and do whatever job I need done. I cringe when anything goes wrong because I know for sure it isn’t going to be a quick fix.
Another place I see earthworms in my life is when I’m driving. Have you ever gotten behind someone who signals 2 miles before they intend to turn off and then drives 20 miles an hour in a 55 zone all the way until it’s time to make that turn refusing, of course, to get into the designated turning lane? It’s almost as if they were put there just to send my blood pressure skyrocketing!
My grandmother was determined to make me part of the earthworm scene always warning me to signal to change lanes miles before the need arose. At 5 miles away you’d hear, “Now it’s coming up here – get ready.” On down the road we’d go and at 2 miles she’d say, “Now it’s right around this bend here.” At the one-mile mark, “Now don’t forget, you’re going to turn right up here.” And finally, she’d desperately grasp the door handle with eyes clenched and white knuckles when I dared go around the bend too fast. She was probably kicking herself for not mentioning what speed I should be going instead of just worrying about the lane change.
What about the mosquitoes in life? These would be the people who just use you for their own purposes sucking the ‘blood’ out of you and then moving on to their next victim. The ‘blood’ can be money, emotions, a place to stay (your house), a meal, or anything else you might do to help someone out. These are sometimes hard to spot in our lives because like mosquitoes, they move in and take what they need while you’re not paying attention and have various ways of craftily covering up the fact that they have no intention of reciprocation or any real interest in you other than what you can do for them. Unfortunately, in everyone’s life, there are people like this that have to be dealt with.
Anyone who’s ever had a teenage boy to feed will easily see my comparison with termites. Termites eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I can attest to this comparison with my son in the midst of his growth spurts right now. About once a month, I make it out to Sam’s Club where I stock up in bulk on every imaginable item of food I can, bring it all back, and stow it away, feeling smug and secure that it will last for a month. But then….Spencer shows up and demolishes my stash. Open cans of beans on the counter are considered an invitation, so I need to be quick in my prep and get things over a hot flame where he can’t grab them. Things go missing as he treks through the kitchen to take the dog out and again on his way back in. Food disappears on his way through to drop off his laundry. Bringing his empty lunch box after school to be filled tomorrow’s edible sacrifice is another dangerous time when I need to be in the kitchen on guard for the food termite. It’s not even just the times I’m aware of that are bad, but somehow most mornings I wake up to an emptier kitchen than I had the night before. Most people, when they buy food, try to finish it before the expiration date. We have a new game now, Spencer and I – we try to see if the food will still be in the house and not in him by the next day.
Speaking of Spencer, I also associate him with the praying mantis because it’s the only bug in the world with just one ear. Spencer’s selective hearing fits right in with this because unless it involves food Spencer never seems to hear when I call him. My mom seems to have the same issue with my dad who never seems to hear her talking about the walls she wants painted or the shopping trip she wants to take.
I’m sure everyone can recognize slugs in their life when they’re unfortunate enough to come across one. The slugs of life are convinced they’re far above most others but when asked to produce an independent thought or exhibit common sense, they fail miserably. Scientists tell us that sea slug brains actually have many things in common with our brains. Much of what passes for thinking in our brains is actually reacting to situational stimuli; hence, it is not thinking but reflex. Most adults have risen above slug status and can actually produce evidence of independent thought like here in our group where we’re all capable of putting our perceptions on paper. Some people mention the very public blunders of Sarah Palin or George W. Bush when talking about slugs. But, we all come up against people in life that might make us think they should swap brains with a sea slug to improve things.
But you see what happens here when you start off thinking of one annoying bug…..you end up with a very negative sounding paper to read. So with that in mind, I’ll leave you with two thoughts – ants and butterflies. In life, I’m blessed with my dad’s five sisters. My aunts are well-titled, because for sure they are the colony-makers in our family. No matter what the occasion, they each take on a job and cover every base to get things done. A few years ago, in the lead up to my son’s wedding, my aunts were into baking hundreds of cookies and helping me round up all the odds and ends needed for the reception. In the midst of all this, one of my cousins unexpectedly went into hospital with leukemia. She had been right in the middle of buying a new house, selling her old house, and moving with her four children to another state for her husband’s new job. With no hesitation of mind or break in their pre-wedding quests, our aunts drove hours to reach them, took on all four children, moved them into their homes, enrolled them in schools, and made a safe haven for them while their parents got through what they needed to and still managed to deliver cookies right on time for me. Every family needs ants like these.
And lastly, the beautiful butterfly……..the butterflies in life can begin with the non-attractive pregnancy bump which produces the child who grows up into a caring, loving individual enriching people with his very existence. A butterfly can be the addict that comes through rehab and finds his way to a better life for himself and his loved ones. It can be an amputee emerging into a now-changed world and embracing his new circumstance being grateful just to be there at all. Or, as in my own life, it can be the baby that came after the world’s worst pregnancy and drove us all to the edge of madness with the ensuing 6 months of colic but who now, 14 years later, greets every day with an infectious smile and a sense of humor that none of us can resist. A butterfly in life can be anyone that starts from a darkness and gradually moves into the light, spreading his wings in a magnificent array of glory for all to revel in along with him. We are lucky to have the butterflies in our lives.
As I look around, I am surprised to see the bugs I’m dealing with. Look around your life and see the bugs you can recognize and make sure you’re always the butterfly and never the housefly (or worse) in someone else’s life.