It started few nights ago …
My wife asked me if I had noticed the fruit flies buzzing around the house. Noticed? Are you kidding me?!
I am vehemently anti-bug. No wait, that doesn’t seem strong enough: I really, really, really, really hate bugs.
It’s true, though. I strive to ensure that my home is a pest-free domain. We never leave fresh fruit out. We have screen doors at every opening (aside from the garage), and I am constantly patrolling to see that every screen is tightly closed as well as perfect—no tears or rips. When I bring in groceries, even though it would be easier to leave the door ajar, I shut it all the way in between trips to the car. I constantly clean out the sink so that there’s no potential food sources in the drain. I am always dusting crumbs off the counters and tables. As soon as I see a fly in the house I will pathologically hunt it down and make sure to Kill. It. Dead.
Heck, I even welcome spiders because they hunt and kill other more annoying insects, and this despite once getting bit by a spider and having my eye swell shut and not even getting anything remotely resembling super powers….
But back to the fruit flies. I attempted to kill all the ones that I saw the first night, and then tried not to think about it again, hoping it was just an aberration due to a door that may have been inadvertently left open a microsecond too long.
A day or so later—after my wife had *conveniently* left for a trip—I notice that they are back, and in larger numbers.
I quickly realize that they seem concentrated on the wall near a corner kitchen cabinet that’s above the counter. It’s a cabinet in which we store some sealed food, a.k.a. a possible perfect habitat for pests.
I instantly think of my old buddy Bobby the train conductor, who once told me about how after trains that he was on had hit someone, he had been sent out to find the dead bodies. He described how he hated looking because he really didn’t want to find anything that would give him nightmares …
As much as I don’t want to do it, I grit my teeth and open the cabinet. More fruit flies!
The cabinet in question has three shelves, so I start with the bottom one, slowly taking out all the expired cold medicines and sunblock that we keep there. I empty the shelf. A few fruit flies but not quite “an infestation.”
I move up to second shelf where we keep things like peanut butter, canned olives and other packaged dry goods. More fruit flies than the first shelf, which is not instilling me with happiness about what I might find on the top shelf—full of ingredients that my wife uses for baking.
Hating every second of it, I get a chair and climb up so I can get a good look at top shelf …
Winner winner, fruit fly dinner!!!!
A broken bag of corn meal and a spilled bottle of Caro syrup, making for what it turns out is the perfect Petri dish to grow fruit flies.
So with my son calling from the next room how is supporting me from waaay over there and bugs flying around, I start to clean the shelf.
I throw out the broken bag of corn meal (and fruit flies) and then clean up the syrup—and the dozens of fly corpses stuck to the shelf. I dispose of essentially everything that had been on the shelf because I sorta freak out about the thought of insects touching anything I might eat, which I know is a case of willful ignorance because bugs pretty much touch everything everywhere.
Anyway, once I get the shelf clean, it’s time for sterilization. I break out the bleach and start spraying heavily, except after few seconds realize that the bleach, while cleaning everything, is not exactly killing everything—there are still fruit flies wriggling around, not quite dead enough for my liking.
I run to the cabinet where we keep various death-to-vermin-in-a-cans and decide that Raid’s Ant & Roach spray is probably best suited for the job.
That lightning bolt means *REALLY* lethal, right?
I go back to the infected shelf, and after a quick shake, start a-spraying! And, of course, to make sure that I’m killing all the bugs in the all the corners, I’ve got my face right in the cabinet ….
You can see where this is going. In my blood zeal to eradicate the tiny pests, I didn’t.
About a minute after spraying I am a little light-headed. A few seconds after that, I feel a knot burning in my throat, which is quickly followed by a wave of nausea sweeping over me.
Awww CRAP! Are you *NOT* supposed to mix bleach and bug spray?!
The answer to that, as I discover quickly is a resounding “YES!”
I immediately start retching violently and have to run for the bathroom, where the dry heaving starts …
Okay, I’ll spare you all the graphic details but trust me when I say that I am very sick, very quickly.
In between the retching, I open all the windows (did I mention it’s about 105 degrees out?), turn on a fan and send the kids downstairs to their video game room, out of harm’s way.
As I’m flushing out my sinuses with cold water and still retching, I recall a recent episode of “Good Luck Charlie” where the father, who is an exterminator, accidentally gets hit with a bug bomb. As he’s covered in white powder, he says, ” Well, a little poison never hurt anyone …. Oh, wait—IT HAS!” As my chest continues to burn, I picture how so many pesticides are designed to melt the inner organs of insects.
Cue, The Fly: “Heeellllp meeeeee!”
I am also furiously angry at myself for possibly killing myself in such an incredibly stupid manner. I have visions of myself turning up in the weird news section of Damned Connecticut: “Local Jerk Fumigates Self.”
Hello, Irony—sorry I may not live long enough to appreciate you.
A half hour later and I’m still not feeling very good. In fact, I am feeling worse and continuing to retch. In between, my wife calls and is careful not to ask whether she would be able to collect on my life insurance in a case of dramatic idiocy. She suggests that I call Poison Control.
At first I say no because I’m still in denial that I may have done something so stupid. But after another round of retching—enough so that even my kids make comments to the fact that I’m not right—I find the number and call Poison Control.
“Hello, poison control. How can I help you?” says the calm male voice on the other end.
“Hi I’m an absolute idiot and I think I accidentally poisoned myself.” (And this is what I say, almost verbatim—I need to amuse myself at crisis moments, you know, because there’s not enough going on.)
“Really?” replies the voice. “My name is Dana. Who am I speaking to?”
On some level, I’m glad that the poison control center is so friendly, but I need to not die at the moment. I hastily introduce myself to Dana. “Tell me what happened,” he says.
I explain my stupidity to Dana, who is quiet for a few moments—probably to stifle his laughter. He then says, “The good news is that what you did isn’t fatal …” A wave of relief washes over me. “… however, you will feel sick for a while.”
And I did. But knowing that I wasn’t going to curl up with my legs in the air like the bug on the front of the Raid can, I was okay with it.
Eventually, I do go to sleep, and I have one of the most vivid dreams I can recall in a while. It involves Will Ferrell as President George W. Bush, and we’re together on the space shuttle, where he suddenly is having raucous sex in a sleeping bag while hanging upside down …
I swear, that’s really the dream I have that night. You can’t make that up, right? Except I did, apparently. And even though it seems messed up, there were no fruit flies or poison in it.
As far as I’m concerned, it means everything is normal again.
Oh, and the fruit flies are gone.