The Revolution of the Flies
909 words long
There is unrest in the kitchen, there is trouble with the flies...
Notes from the author:
So thereï¿½s this saying: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In other words, when attempting to make friends and influence people, politeness and pleasantness are more effective than anger or rudeness. As long as weï¿½re talking about houseflies, the metaphor is good. A plastic wrap funnel leading down into a glass of sugar-water should do the trick. But if youï¿½ve got an infestation of fruit flies, then vinegar is what you want after all.
You can yell at them if you like. ï¿½Stupid flies! Iï¿½m sick of you buzzing around my kitchen! Get in that trap and die, dammit!ï¿½ It wonï¿½t affect the efficacy of your fly trap, but it may relieve your feelings.
The flies in the kitchen were abuzz with excitement. Today was election day! You didnï¿½t know that flies held elections, did you? In fact, not all of them do. In some fly communities, disputes are settled any old how, no regulation whatsoever. It inevitably leads to wings being torn and sensibilities damaged. But those sorts of flies are uncivilized, not to mention unfashionable, and we neednï¿½t speak of them.
No, our story deals with the very cream of fly society. As such, they had a bevy of Ministers to take care of those things which Ministers must. For instance, they had a Minister of Mating Privileges, and a Minister of Ingress and Egress, and a Minister of Surface Management. It was that last position that was under dispute. A challenger claimed to have devised a better system for allotting the available surfaces for each flyï¿½s use, more efficient and more just than that currently imposed by the incumbent. There was nothing for it but to hold an election, and quickly, before the argument could lead to discord and bad taste.
The incumbentï¿½s system had the advantage of organization. Sheï¿½d accounted for every square inch of surface area, up to and including the wedge-shaped space underneath the drying rack. Any location where a fly might eat, eliminate, or simply stand and preen, sheï¿½d cataloged and categorized and included in her rota. Every citizen, no matter how young, had an assigned patch and scheduled shift. ï¿½Enough, but not too much,ï¿½ was the incumbentï¿½s motto.
The challenger thought the incumbent excessively controlling. ï¿½Thereï¿½s plenty for all,ï¿½ said the challenger, ï¿½and room for every fly. There is no scarcity to be navigated here! Surface management, yes, but micro-management? Why? Friends, citizens, flies young and old, I put it to you that a less intrusive Ministry is what we need, a Ministry small enough to fit down the food disposal unit, a Minister who respects your individual judgment in all things!ï¿½
ï¿½What my opponent proposes,ï¿½ said the incumbent, ï¿½is mere anarchy and foolishness. My system of surface management has functioned perfectly for as long as I have held office. Everyone has enoughï¿½but not too muchï¿½and furthermore, our fair society remains safely beneath the notice of those slow hulking giants who pass so terrifyingly through our world. My opponentï¿½s changes will make us unsafe! They will replace the order of good government with the order imposed by the bully! Besides, my opponent really should not be addressing us in this way; she isnï¿½t standing on the surface designated a talking surface.ï¿½
ï¿½You see?ï¿½ said the challenger. ï¿½You see what kind of control freak my opponent is? She wants to dictate when we speak and where we stand, when weï¿½re silent and where we land. Her so-called ï¿½systemï¿½ is just a way of inflating her overweening ego; certainly it gives us nothing that wasnï¿½t ours already. When challenged, my opponent falls back on fear, uncertainty, and doubt, invoking the specter of giants to keep you in line. Enough! Friends, when I am Minister of Surface Management, we shall sweep away such paranoia and usher in a new day of freedom!ï¿½
The flies in the kitchen discussed the matter, and a rowdy discussion it was. You never heard such buzzing. You may think otherwise, especially considering that broiling day last summer when youï¿½d put off the weekly trip to the neighborhood compost heap and the entire front porch smelled of banana rinds and rotting lettuce (donï¿½t think it went unnoticed), but what you heard then was nothing compared to a hotly contested fly-society election day.
One by one, the flies voted. They didnï¿½t punch holes in cards nor drop pebbles in urnsï¿½flies donï¿½t hold with those sorts of contrivances. Flies donï¿½t, in fact, hold much of anything physical at all. No, they voted with their wings. They voted with their feet. They didnï¿½t bother voting with their voices, because it became abundantly clear how they were voting. First it was just a few flies. Then it was a few more. Before long the whole buzzing lot of them were doing it. They were landing on any surface they pleased, eating whatever they liked, disposing entirely with the incumbentï¿½s rota as they tried on the challengerï¿½s suggestion of utter freedom. In the end, only the incumbent was left standing where her scheduleï¿½which knew no favoritesï¿½had assigned her to land. That, by the way, was the underside of the range hood, whose more or less permanent spattering of grease could keep a fly happy all afternoon.
She was not a happy fly now. But what was she to do? Sheï¿½d been voted out of office.
The new Minister of Surface Management held her position about forty-eight hours. The change in government was perceptible to the humans of the household as a sudden and inexplicable increase in fly activity. It galvanized them, inspiring a cleaning frenzy which, despite the new Ministerï¿½s reassuring words, seemed to have indeed ushered in a fearful new era of scarcity for the flies.
Next, a sugar-trap appeared on the kitchen counter. The previous Minister would have left it off her rota entirely, being just as paranoid as her challenger had said. But there were no rules now to govern where a fly might feed and when, and no reason not to mob the new source of food. The Minister of Ingress and Egress was powerless to help them out.
Thus perished fully two-thirds of the electorate and ended the revolution of the flies.
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