As inconsequential as a fruit fly


In trying to describe to someone how pesky another person was – not annoying enough to think about, but still there when you didn’t care for her to be, inserting herself into situations in which she had no business, I realized she had become like a fruit fly. Nothing you really notice at all unless you’re close to them (or unless they exist in a giant swarm), mostly harmless but nothing you want around either. To cap off my discussion on how I thought of her, I declared, “If I were to say another word to her, it would be: ‘Get the fuck away from me, annoying fruit fly’.”

This seemed appropriate because she wanted to be so much more consequential than that, to occupy space, time, thought. But do fruit flies occupy that much space, time, thought for most of us? No, not for most of us.

But, for science, yes. As soon as I had made this analogy of woman as fruit fly, every other story I saw on my science and tech blogs seemed to be fruit-fly related. Do I notice them now because I evoked the fruit fly in my mind’s eye? Or is there really such a sudden glut of fruit fly stories?

Everything from “Fruit fly mutation foretells 40 million years of evolution” to, perhaps appropriately in this case, “Family break-ups lead to domestic violence in fruit fly relationships”. Perhaps most relevant of all: “Too near, or too far? What fruit flies teach us about personal space”.

Yes – personal space. My human fruit fly has no concept of boundaries or personal space (so perhaps would not even be good at being a fruit fly, really). Ignoring her or trying to create some distance ignited the kind of drama that I don’t permit in my life. She could never understand that I, like most people, appreciate personal space, and she was constantly invading it. And she knew it but had no self-control. It was not that I hated her (I barely knew her), was angry at her, or never wanted to talk to her again. It was simply that with her pushing and constant presence, she was an uninvited annoyance (exactly like fruit flies), not irritating like house flies, not predatory like spiders.

Simply… innocuous and ever-present, but unwelcome.

Photo (c) 2014 ZEISS Microscopy used under Creative Commons license.

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