LET ME BE FRANK: On Fruit Flies

In the past month, the house I live in has developed something of a fruit fly problem. It started small, but quickly my life was overrun with these horrible, ugly beasts. Our ceilings are decorated with fly strips dangling, our counters complete with store-bought insect repellants and traps. And one night after being welcomed home by a whole host of flies, I flew into something of a rage against these ridiculous creatures. I took a can of Lysol spray and ravaged my kitchen, destroying any in sight. I was about sick of these pests. Just thinking about them is making me angry. Obviously, I’m really not a fan. Not the point of this, though.

It’s gotten better, and most recently I bought from the store some apple cider vinegar to make a homemade trap. I put it in a cup, dropped some dish soap in and covered it with plastic wrap. I was giddy. The nightmarish plague would soon be over. A little while later, I went to check the progress, and saw the swarm of flies on the cup, around the cup and inside the cup, trapped and dying. I was satisfied with my work, but also had something of a revelation only moments later.

I watched as these little idiots flew themselves into their own doom, seeking the prize they thought was their purpose. It was everything they could ever wantfermented fruit, perfectly placed in a cup, on a platter singing its siren song. Their whole identity rests in their hunt for this type of fruit. Even their name suggests this. But unfortunately, their blind hunt for their purpose and meaning gets lost in a cup. The prize is death in disguise, a wolf in sheeps’ clothing, and it is at this point that I realized maybe people aren’t quite so different.

So often the things we think are good for us, maybe even what we believe to be the ultimate, are deceptively misleading.  What we prize and prioritize is dangled in front our noses and we grasp at straws, a meaningless hunt for real, lasting meaning. 

Sometimes we even know what isn’t good for us, but it’s familiar. It’s what we know. And so we run to it, cling to it even, with the dream that it somehow ends up being what we hope it to be.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]