A large house-fly entered my house this afternoon and zoomed around for a while and then disappeared. Later I saw him again for a few moments and tried to capture him but I was unable to get him trapped against a window so I could grab him and put him outside. I did try several times, but he evaded me and I started feeling a little foolish in my efforts to be nice to a fly. Okay, it’s a little prissy but I want to be as nice as possible to everyone, even very marginally sentient creatures, but this was getting silly and a bit bizarre even for me.
About 10:30 in the evening while I was in the bathroom this annoying little companion decided to visit me again, — I don’t know why I bothered the fly, perhaps he’ll die — flew through my head. I thought if I closed the door at least he would be confined to the bathroom, a small enough place where perhaps I could kill him, but after half a dozen vigorous swings with a towel, even that was looking futile. It was difficult to see him long enough to get an aim and I had to be careful because there were fragile things on the counters and large fancy exposed light bulbs which I could easily break.
He landed on the wall very near one of these bulbs, after he hit it a couple of times with his head, and I crept up upon him as stealthily as possible. I carefully positioned my hand in such a way as to not hit the bulb and yet hit him with a sudden swat. Apparently, the fly was genetically attuned to my intentions by eons of similar misadventures because two times just as I was about to execute the coup de fly – he flew.
Then the proverbial light went-on in my head. I’ll give you a chance to let a similar light go off in yours. … Times up. Perhaps he won’t fly away when the light is turned off. So … I turned the light off and left it off for a few seconds. Ah, ha—he didn’t fly away in the dark and furthermore he didn’t fly away the instant the light came back on. So I turned it off again. But now the human insight, the light went-off in my head in the dark and the forethought and the malice which brought humanity to the pinnacle of genocide towards all other creatures – unfortunately to ourselves as well. While the light was off I moved my hand about halfway to the fly and then held it perfectly still while I turned the light back on for a half a second. Then I turned the light off and while it was off moved my hand about halfway to the fly again – repeated another time or two and I was almost touching the fly, but he didn’t seem to notice or care that my swatting hand was imminent. Then with the light back off again, I swatted and squished this little perfection of genetic engineering.
With my new philosophy of personal contentment this didn’t bother me as much as it would have last month. I haven’t disturbed the natural equilibrium of the universe and perhaps in some tiny way have improved the genetic quality of flies by making them more wary of being destroyed by not paying closer attention to human hands moving closer to them in the dark. Perhaps you too could participate in this genetic improvement in the fly species.
Having thought on this problem a bit more, perhaps I could have trapped him under a glass jar when the light was off, and then, with the light back on, slid a sheet of paper under it. That way I could have set him free outside and spared his life. Perhaps he didn’t die in vain and many innocent insects may now be saved by this post to the internet being read and the technique followed by others.
Humans are smarter than flies – sometimes and more moral too – sometimes.