The housefly and the Old Coot

A fly landed on my hand the other afternoon. I was on our back porch trying to get interested in a watercolor painting I was working on. I had sketched out the general scene but hadn’t stuck a brush in water to start the wash that would underlay the background. I’m not good at this – I painted a bit, years ago, and then stopped. I’ve tried to recapture the skill, limited as it was, a few times over the years but haven’t stuck with it. I guess that old adage is true, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

So, I was sitting there just staring at the sketch waiting for a nudge from the universe to get moving. “Alexa” had been kind enough to find and play some easy listening music; a gentle breeze was rustling the leaves in the lilac bushes along the fence and wind chimes were tinkling off in the distance. I guess I was in a vegetative state, killing time, procrastinating and about to doze off. 

Then, a fly landed on my hand, my fingertip to be specific. I was in such a mellow state I didn’t brush it away. I could hardly feel it – either it was very gentle, very light on my finger, or I just don’t have the sensitivity I used to. The fly scampered around, running up between my fingers as though on a scouting mission. I just sat there, letting him continue his exploration of my hand. He hung in there for 22 minutes. 

I guess he thought I was a good guy, that I wouldn’t swat him like most humans. And, I had no urge to do so. Kind of like those photos you used to see in old news reels, people standing around in the heat with swarms of flies buzzing around their heads, going in and out of their mouths, not seeming to be bothered or even to notice. Watching the fly scamper around on my hand intrigued me. He probed here and there with his proboscis but inflicted no pain, not much of any sensation at all.

For a while there, I wondered if he thought I was a corpse and he was looking for a place to plant some eggs in my skin, that a coroner could use to determine the time of death by the stage of maggot development, like they do on TV crime shows. I’d been so still he must have thought that. But, I don’t know if flies think in that fashion, they probably just act on instinct. 

Anyhow, it gave me some entertainment and perked my curiosity, “What was he up to?” Then, all of a sudden, he sat up on his hind legs like a dog begging for a treat, rubbed his front “paws” together and flew away. It just goes to show; it doesn’t take much to entertain an old coot. I still haven’t finished the painting.

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