They say the housefly is nature’s cat toy, and it’s true: an occasional fly can provide a cat with food and entertainment for minutes on end. But a dozen flies inside the house, all at the same time, is just too much of a good thing — I know, because that’s what I woke up to last Sunday morning. It was just like Lord of the Flies, or what Lord of the Flies would have been like if it had been about actual flies instead of schoolboys and had taken place in a house instead of on an island, and if the characters, instead of turning feral, had basically just hung out in windows all day. Or maybe it was more like what Lord of the Rings would have been like if the Hobbits had been flies who, lacking fingers, were unfamiliar with the concept of wearing a ring and had spent the entire time hanging around in the Shire, which is well known in some academic circles to be an allegory for my house.
My initial reaction was horror that there were so many flies in my house. But then I noticed that they were all sitting on my windows — clearly, all they wanted was to go outside, which was exactly what I wanted them to do. For the first day, the flies and I worked together, united towards a common goal, and I was able to usher about half of them out through doors and windows.
But the others stayed. My relationship with the remaining flies began to sour. They seemed less interested in escape than in hanging out in the sun. And, while I was initially relieved that they showed no interest in my food, the cats’ food, or the garbage, I began to see their disinterest as an insult. I bought a flyswatter and some sticky traps. I never actually managed to bring myself to use the flyswatter (not out of any sense of compassion; I just didn’t want to have to deal with squashed fly remains), but the traps got some of the flies, and my cats got the rest.
I’ve told a few people about the flies, and they’ve all responded the same way: by exclaiming “Oh! There must be a dead animal in your house!” in a cheerful tone of voice. When these conversations have taken place at my house, they’ve generally followed up with “but I don’t smell a dead animal”, which is probably the highest compliment anyone has ever paid to my housekeeping skills.