I can't recall ever having the slightest
feeling for a fly, no fellow-creature sympathy,
no closeness. Nothing. Have you?
And yet, a fly is a living thing, sharing
the planet with us and other living creatures.
So why the distance, why the coldness?
I suppose it's the fly's reputation – you know,
disease carrier, fecal taster, food contaminator,
pesky nuissance, annoying bug, and
rarest of all, my neighbor's favorite,
"son of Baalzebug," and other
pernicious epithets the creative human
mind churns out on just about anything
it deems obscenely disgusting, and a
big-time flaw in an otherwise perfect God.
Me? Yes, I've a few encounters with
flies over the years. Once, on a picnic,
I detected one struggling in the potato salad,
almost camouflaged in a sumptuous coat
of mayonnaise, just as I was about to scoop
it into my plate of sliced ham.
And who hasn't had a fly scoot up his nose
or flown into his ear? What strange sensations!
Or buzzed you mad while trying to read a book?
I guess the only thing I like about the fly
is its Latin name, "Musca domestic,"
(domestic house fly), with its bouncy
lilt and erudite sound. And given all
the ills of ancient Roman society,
political and social, and its hordes
of enemies, the little Musca may,
quite literally, have been every Roman's
most invasive and irritable enemy,
to home and table; and, I might imagine,
quite capable on occasion of unhinging
even a mind as even-tempered as Cicero's.