Three or four flies have gotten into my house. They don’t really bother me unless they are buzzing around my head when I am trying to go to sleep at night then, yea, I am not a fly fan. We have had a lot of flies this summer so many that I bought two fly traps for the backyard and spray to coat my dogs in. I am sure these insects have an important purpose on this planet other than bugging the shit out of us but as one continues to hover around my head it seems that bugging the shit out of me is all they are good for at this moment.
For most of city dwellers who have our homes sealed tight with the air conditioning running 24/7 in the summer months the occasional fly in the house has become a rarity. My maternal grandmother never had air conditioning in her home. Open windows and box fans was how she kept her house “cool” which meant in the mid 80’s. Some windows had screens or at least the resemblance of a screen but most did not so her house was filled with flies during the day and mosquitoes at night. A real bug fest.
Her mother, my great-grandmother, lived with her and Granny, as we called her, walked around all day with a fly swatter in her hand. This fly swatter had two purposes, the most obvious, to kill flies which she was the master of and the second, to pop a tail or two if children were acting up. She was a true “spare the rod spoil the child” disciple who moved quick for an old woman. Granny was known to pop you in the behind just as matter of principle. Her theory was that you hadn’t done anything wrong, yet, but you were probably thinking about it.
Every morning, before she left for work, my grandmother made biscuits and fried up some country ham for her husband and my uncles to eat. She put the meat and biscuits on a plate and covered them with a dish rag. When I got a car and started driving myself to school I would stop by her house a couple of times a week and grab a biscuit and slab of ham to eat on the way in.
When I would get there in the morning the house would be empty, the front door unlocked, why lock the door when all the windows are open, and sitting on the counter would be a dish rag covered in flies. I always felt sorry for those poor guys because I knew what kind of goodness was under that rag. All they could do was smell those delicious buttermilk biscuits. Maybe they got a crumb or two left when I cut it in half but mostly they just sat and smelled and circled the plate.
If I was early and had time I would stand and watch the flies patrol around the rag hoping to find some crack or crevice they could wiggle into. I understood why these guys worked themselves into a frenzy trying to get to these biscuits, they weren’t just good, they were melt in your mouth wonderful. Hot, cold, or hard as a rock, it didn’t matter my grandmothers biscuit were a masterpiece, an art and sadly one that disappeared with her death 20 years ago.
We had all watched her make them a hundred times but no one in my family could ever replicate what she created. I stood by her side countless times watching her dump this, pour that and stir and still never got it right. Theories abound about why none of us could make my grandmothers biscuits from the cookie sheet she never washed, or the buttermilk she never cooled, to the oven with the broken thermostat she never fixed. Maybe it was the flies or maybe it was always meant to be a simple pleasure and memory for me to recollect today as I swat flies.