September 18, 2022 Comments Off on The trap
At one of the campgrounds I stayed at someone had tied a fly trap to the trunk of a sequoia. It was like a roach motel for winged bugs. You pulled up on the stopper and it released some kind of fly fragrance. The flies would come to the narrow opening, crawl in to get the goodies, and then, due to the shape of the opening, be unable to get back out.
Stuck in the plastic bag, surrounded by the delectable smell of fly yummies, they would fly in a frenzy among their frenzied friends until they died from starvation or from heat, as the bag acted as a greenhouse. About one-third up from the bottom there was a dotted line that said “replace when full to here.” The bottom of the bag was packed with fly carcasses.
I spent a few minutes watching the helpless prisoners, doomed to die in the terrible ecstasy of the fly fragrance. They desperately tried to get out of the bag but could not. As horribly, outside the bag countless more flies hovered.
These flies knew something wasn’t quite right but they too were attracted by the eau d’ fly. Every few seconds a new fly would alight on the rim and hesitate. It smelled so good. But all those other flies were trying to get out and couldn’t. But maybe they were just faking it so they could keep all the goodies for themselves. And then there was the matter of all the dead ones. But perhaps they had simply overdone it, overdosed on the obviously delectable but not exactly visible manna. The pondering fly was certain that he wouldn’t make the mistake the others had, and he distrusted all the flies shouting “No! Don’t!” If it were so bad why were there so many inside?
The fly would get nearer and nearer the opening and I wanted to shout “Don’t do it! It’s certain perdition! No! No!” But the fly would hop into the slot and be trapped, like his friends, to face a most awful death.
“This,” I thought, “is absolute proof that flies don’t communicate.”
But the more I thought about it, the less certain I became. How is it any different from global warming? Scientists and people suffering its effects are screaming at the top of their lungs “No! Don’t do it! Certain death!” but we plunge madly ahead into the narrow opening from which there is no escape.
Or drugs, alcoholism, motorcycles, McDonald’s, badly fitting pants, tattoos, or subscriptions to the Times? We all know that these things are terrible and terrible for you but we cannot help ourselves. The smell is just too strong, regardless of how many stinking bodies are piled up at the bottom.
I thought about all the people I know living miserable lives in pursuit of money, success, security, and comfort. The only difference between them and the flies is that theoretically they can escape.
Yet in reality they can’t. The fragrance is simply too sweet.