When I was 16, I drove a Chevy Citation for awhile. Not exactly a hot car, what with the hatchback and all, not to mention the bland grey interior to match the bland grey exterior. But hey, when you're 16 you're just glad to be driving. Know what's less hot than a grey Chevy Citation? A grey Chevy Citation full of flies.
I hate bugs. I know, hardly anyone outside of the entomologist population is big fan of them, but you've got to remember, I lived in Alaska til I was 8 years old. In Alaska, there are maybe 5 types of relatively non-scary insects, and other than that, there's just a whole lotta moose and caribou. I had seen mosquitos, ants, a couple flies and some bees--but none of those in any kind of number. I didn't like bugs, but I also just didn't think much about them, since they weren't much of an issue.
Then, owing to the general lack of adult supervision in my life at that time, I saw two horror movies when I was 7 years old which dealt with insects as predator. One was called The Bees, and the other was called The Swarm. Both of these movies, according to IMDB.com, are laughably bad, neither earning even as high as a scant 4 stars out of 10. But in both movies, incredible numbers of insects get together and basically blanket people, feasting on their flesh. There's a scene in one of the movies, I recall, where a frightened couple races to their car to escape the insect horde, and just as they're breathing a sigh of relief, the insects simply blanket the car and enter through the A/C vents and kill them anyway. I think I remember a scene in which insects are hiding inside a toilet--I'm not sure how well that worked since most insects don't do well in the water, but what I know for sure is that I spent the rest of that year lifting toilet seats and checking underneath to be sure there were no surprises before I used them. So there I was, just turning 8 years old, beginning to be a little skeeved out by bugs.
Then I moved to Missouri. In comparison to Alaska, Missouri is one massive insect nest. As an 8-year-old I was shocked upon discovering the vast array and sheer numbers of all the many insects I was apparently surrounded by in that new state. As far as I could tell, the movies I had seen had it right--insects did indeed exist in the kind of voluminous hordes that could consume the human flesh of most of North America. For a couple of months, before we were able to get a house, we stayed in a double-wide trailer belonging to a friend of mom's. I don't know how many of you have spent time in a trailer, but in addition to that one occasion, I also stayed in one many years later for about a month, and I can tell you one thing: Insects LOVE them. That first trailer experience was a fright show. For one thing, crickets were coming up through the drain in the bathtub. We'd kill the crickets, and the next day there'd be a cricket party in the tub again. We took to leaving the bathroom door closed at night to contain them, then drenching the tub with Raid in the morning to get rid of them again. I was aghast--they were coming up through the pipes! Exactly the kind of thing that happened in those movies!
Worse, there was some kind of incredibly stupid, hard-bodied beetle-ish insects that kept sneaking into the trailer and then bumping along the ceiling at night while I was trying to sleep. I'd be laying there in bed and hear them bump bump bumping against the ceiling as they flew around, seemingly trying to get past the ceiling to fly a little higher. It's one thing to know there are insects in the house, but it's just too much to ask that a person tolerate the kind of bugs that create a racket and constantly remind you of their presence. We had noisy crickets chirping merrily in both bathrooms, and the stupid beetle-y things banging themselves methodically against our ceilings. It was enough to drive a person nuts. And trailers are so cheaply made that there is often a ridiculous gap of an inch or more at the bottom of the doors that separate one room from another. Once my bedroom had been cleared of all invaders, I'd stuff a towel in that cavernous gap to help keep them out, then I would lay there in bed with the covers pulled up over my head, hoping that would afford some protection against them.
But enough about my psychosis.
Fast forward to me at age 16, in my bland Chevy Citation. It was summer in Missouri and I got into my car on a particularly hot day and noticed a big, fat fly buzzing around. Ack! Gross. And there's nothing more irritating than trying to driving while a fly is circling your head, so I opened the doors and shooed him out with much arm-waving. Then I went on my way, to a friend's house for a visit. Later, as I got back in my car to return home--another fly. I did that same comical dance, waving my arms and flinging myself over the seat to reach into the back seat, finally ousting the filthy little interloper. Weird--I hadn't left the windows down, but whatever. Flies are sneaky. He must have flown in during that split second that I had the door open to get in. But this went on. The next morning as I got into the car, there were two flies! Again, the windows had been up all night. What a bizarre coincidence! I shooed them out, and went about my business, but the next time I got in the car again, a few hours later...three flies! They were taunting me! I didn't have time to think about it right then, so after a now-routine shooing, off I went, and as you probably predicted, more flies appeared again later that day.
By now I'd had enough. Clearly, as you've gathered by now from the various escapades from my past that I've recounted on this blog, I'm no genius. But even I could see there had to be some explanation for this beyond mere coincidence. In the parking lot of the grocery store, where I happened to be at this most recent fly invasion, I began inspecting my car for clues. Front seat: Clear. Back seat: Nothing particularly suspicious. Hatchback: Seemingly normal. Just a few random things thrown back there and forgotten--a sweater, a pair of tennis shoes, a paper bag...hmmm. What's this in the bag? Mother of God, it's a sack of potatoes...TEEMING WITH MAGGOTS! What the fuck?! Who did this?! I leapt about a foot in the air, braying like a donkey on fire.
Then I remembered--I had gone grocery shopping for mom a couple weeks back. Clearly, I had carelessly left one bag in the car. And now that bag was a carnival of maggots. Why couldn't I have left the bag containing the canned goods? Or the one containing the toilet paper? More importantly, what do you do when your car turns into a breeding ground for flies? I had to somehow drive home in this fuel-efficient mobile nest. Howling dramatically and hopping from side to side, I snatched the bag out of the car and flung it across the parking lot like I was afraid it would bite me. After a quick inspection for leftover maggots (they very politely stayed corraled inside the bag instead of scattering througout my hatchback), I raced off to the carwash to give that car a vigorious, punishing scrubbing akin to what a rape victim probably does to herself immediately after the attack.
So there you have it: Proof that what you see in the movies is often not so far-fetched. The insects are coming for us. Just don't make things worse by storing potatoes in an environment of 100-plus degrees.