You can tell a housefly is pretty much done in, when it buzzes about almost drunkenly, having been trapped indoors for however long and deprived of whatever it is flies need to survive. Such was the case in the cavernous Savannah Convention Center on Friday afternoon when a fly hung around our booth at the tradeshow I was attending.
For whatever reason it kept me company. Landing on my jacket, or the magazines assembled on the table, or the hair of an attendee, it would lazily lift off and course away when I’d wave it. But you could tell it was tired because it didn’t go very fast or very far and always returned.
It came back for the last time when I looked down at my laptop case on the convention hall floor and discovered it had landed on the handle. Only this time when I waved at it it hunkered down and stayed put. No, I didn’t kill it. Hell, at home I’m even known to unhook a window screen now and then and let flies back outside to continue with their fly lives because who am I to deprive? Instead I hoisted the case up onto a chair and took a closer look. The fly reacted to my encroaching curiosity with minute movements and shifts, but lacked either the energy or ability to take wing.
I guessed it was just waiting to die, be it of natural causes or the blunt force trauma of a rolled up magazine. Lowering the bag back down to the floor, the fly clung to it in resignation and I went to make the rounds among some of the other exhibitors.
When I returned about an hour later the fly was still on the bag, pretty much where I’d left him. But something was different. It was sort of tipped over. Sure enough, when I tilted the bag, the fly tumbled off to the carpet. It had expired.
I confess, I felt a little sad — and I felt a little weird about feeling sad. Then I shook it off and left to decide whether I’d ferry across the river in search of food or just adjourn to the hotel to get some work done that needed doing. I chose the latter.
Later that evening, although riveted to the television while watching the first presidential debate, the poor fly flew into my thoughts again. And with it another twinge of melancholy that made me pffft out loud.
But I think it was not so much about the fly’s demise but about demises in general. Regardless of what we do in between we come into the world alone and go out of it the same way, whether it’s a fly in Savannah or a famous actor.