Like everyone else in the world, I have some weird quirks about myself. One of them is my hatred for flies. Ironic, isn't it, that I live on a horse farm? Flies come with the territory here. All flies must die. It's my mantra. My phobia all stems from a traumatic event from my past. Well, to me, it was traumatic. To everyone else involved, it must have been pretty funny. I didn't always live in the country. I was raised in Suburban America and it wasn't until I was about 20 years old that I discovered country life. My friends were renting a rather unique rental property in Chester County, PA and needed another couple to help with expenses. It was a short-term deal, and after careful consideration (you can't just live with anyone, you know) my boyfriend (future husband) and I moved into a converted barn, next to a pond, in the middle of nowhere, with my friends and their kids.
The barn was split into two dwellings and the owner/builder and his family lived in the one half while my friends, Jeff & Karen and their three children, Renee, Adrienne, and Stephen, lived in the other half. I fell in love with the countryside, and with family life at their home. You've seen their two girls on this site, Renee and Adrienne. They were just little when we lived with them, and I loved those kids. My husband had taken a job with Jeff, and I got a position managing a weekly newspaper for a Mennonite man who owned a huge grocery store. My favorite time of the day was when the family was together at dinnertime and afterwards. The kitchen was always full of hubub, kids doing their homework, Karen or Jeff working their magic on homemade dishes that we all shared together. Everyone took turns cleaning up in the kitchen. It was the big family that I suddenly realized I'd been missing. It was real country life, with a woodburning stove and a rustic atmosphere. Kittens had just been born in a box in the kitchen, and life was good.
The house sat on top of a big hill that had a creek at the bottom. This was a different way of life for me and I found myself falling in love with it. It was early spring and everything was beautiful. Amish country was just down the road and I was the happiest I'd been in awhile. A cornfield had just been planted across the street, there were sheep out back, horses and cattle were grazing, and of course, there were the ubiquituous flies.
To combat the fly problem, my friends had these little things I was unfamiliar with. I found out they were simply called fly strips, and they were hung about in their kitchen. The flies would get caught on the super sticky surface of the fly strip, and then eventually die from all the exertion to get going again. Either that, or starvation. Regardless, these fly strips sort of freaked me out. But I loved everything, absolutely everything else about my new home with my favorite people. I was strong, though and I got past my fear of these strips, becoming quite adept at taking them down and putting up a fresh one. The strips would get completely covered with flies. Ick! I forced myself to do this chore to prove I was not a wimp. Like I said, I loved being with the family in the kitchen at dinnertime and afterwards. All activity went on there, and one evening after dinner, as we were joking around before going for our evening walk, somehow, I don't even remember how, one of the fly strips had come loose from the ceiling, and my head accidentally bumped into it. Ever so slightly. But it was enough, sadly. I'm sorry, it's difficult to type this because I'm loathe to write anything this gross. Although it's difficult to type the next words, what I'm trying to tell you is that a flystrip full of flies that were still alive and buzzing and exhausting themselves from being stuck to stickiness that only the devil himself could have concocted, well all this was stuck to the left side of my head. And even when people came running to help me, and pulled the aforementioned abomination off my head, the flies continued to be stuck and buzzing to the remaining devil's brew of sticky crap that remained in my hair. Oh my God, the horror. I was so traumatized by the event that I can't even remember how we got all the stick and the flies out. Jeff, if you're reading this and you remember, please don't even tell me. I don't want to think about it. I think I remember strong dishwashing liquid, the smell of paint thinner, and scissors. I also remember shuddering involuntarily every time I thought about it, for a long long time.
I know I woke up screaming sometimes.Ok, maybe you all don't think it's that bad, but that fly strip was covered with hundreds of big juicy black flies. They were still alive, for the love of God! Oh, my God. Just typing this . . . Because of my hatred for the fly, over the years, I've acquired an ability to kill them that would rival that of any sharpshooter. I use a simple fly swatter. And the secret to my fly killing ability includes this criteria: #1) Always keep your flyswatter in the same accessible place. #2) The fly must be hit only when it's on a killable surface. I don't waste fly swats. And I always get my fly. I could care less whether or not you think I'm crazy and I think you just needed to know these things about me. Or not.
OK, I have issues. And one of them involves houseflies.