First of all, a brief follow-up to last week’s column. Just in case anyone may have been concerned, I do not sort my M&M’s by color if I happen to be driving while I’m eating them. Such behavior would definitely go beyond quirky and might even be considered a teensy bit obsessive.
That’s why, when I was traveling this afternoon, I didn’t check the color of my M&M’s.
By the way, a regular sized package of M&M’s, eaten two at a time with sips of coffee in between, lasts for approximately 35 miles along I-90 in western South Dakota when one is driving the speed limit.
But on to other things. As all politicians and their advisors know, one of the crucial factors in being a good spin doctor is getting your version of the story out first, loudest, and most often. In that spirit, I just want to share the following:
First, I categorically deny that there was any deliberate intent or malice involved when I showered my mother with dead flies. I was merely trying to help. In fact, I was only following orders—her orders.
But when you are standing on a rickety wooden stepladder, removing the flimsy plastic cover from the fluorescent light fixture in your parents’ kitchen, accidents can happen. I had snapped off one side of the cover without disturbing the dead flies that littered it. The whole purpose of the exercise, you see, was to get rid of the bodies.
But when the cover came loose on the second side, it twisted sideways and slipped out of my hands. It crashed to the floor in a cascade of dead flies, bouncing off my mother as it fell. True, she was standing right underneath the light fixture at the time in order to hold the wobbly ladder. OSHA would not have approved of her being so close to an overhead maintenance project when she wasn’t wearing a hard hat or any other protective gear. Come to think of it, OSHA wouldn’t have approved of the ladder, either.
But at least a flimsy plastic cover weighing approximately five ounces is not a dangerous object, so she wasn’t hurt. More surprisingly, the light fixture cover wasn’t hurt, either. Even better, by the time I picked it up off the floor it no longer had any dead flies in it. So I gave it a cursory swipe with a dust rag and snapped it back into place.
The rest of the project took a bit longer. It required cleaning fly bodies off of the table, the counter, and the window sill, sweeping the floor, and combing several corpses out of my mother’s hair. I’d never had occasion to practice that particular form of primate grooming before.
Among the pleasures of visiting my parents is hearing them tell and retell family stories. One of the things we talked about during this visit was how accurate some of those stories are, especially the older ones. Different family members remember things differently, and memories fade over the years. Maybe, sometimes, what we remember is more about what the “official version” of the story says happened than it is about what actually happened.
The incident of the falling flies is one very small family story that will probably only be told a couple of times. But just in case it grows or changes in the telling, here is my version. In writing. Spread all over the Internet.
When it comes to getting there first with the spin on a story, there are no flies on me.