Fruit Flies and Life Lessons

Everybody’s house smells like something. If it’s cinnamon, incense, fresh bread, or some other pleasing aroma, you’re doing great.

My apartment smells like genocide.

Let me expand. About two months ago, something was spilled in the kitchen trashcan that brought every fruit fly within a 20-mile radius swarming. Eventually, the hordes died down, and I enjoyed a nice respite of being fruit-fly-free for about a month. You don’t realize how easy cooking is until you can use both your arms instead of waving them about, defending your meals from the little buggers.

But then something went horribly wrong.

It all started when I was getting ready yesterday morning, and I had company on my bathroom mirror. I won’t say that its beady little eyes were staring at me because they’re too small to actually see the eyes (the small blessing in this), but I’m sure they were. I left for class and work, and upon returning home in the evening, saw that there was a congregation of three on my toothbrush bristles. That’s where I drew the line and decided to wage full-out war.

This morning, armed with rock and roll and the wrath of an aspiring homemaker, I took baking soda and vinegar to the garbage disposal, followed by salt and ice, and topped off with a pair of pliers digging around for any straggling food bits.

This is where the smell comes in.

The first thing you smell when you walk into my apartment is apple cider vinegar. I have religiously made ACV/dish detergent traps and placed them all over the kitchen and my bedroom. These traps come in many varieties, from the hedgehog measuring cups my mother got me for my birthday last year, to my Walmart-grade measuring cups, to the fancy glasses my aunt got me that I was always too scared to use because they were so nice (look at me now, Aunty Kate).

But my personal favorite? My rolled-up cone of paper that I use as a fly swatter that bears the words “DEATH-BRINGER II” on the side. (DEATH-BRINGER I got recycled away after the last invasion.) Bodies are smashed on my mirrors and walls. It’s disgusting, but somehow I feel that leaving them there and living among this desecration will keep my blood hot and powers stronger in this battle.

I’ve even resorted to the Good Lord. Before dinner tonight, I included in my prayer asking for a wee little favor of helping me to get rid of this problem quickly, as it was disrupting my peace.

And that’s where I had my big realization: how often do we treat problems in life the same way I treat fruit flies? We see hints that things are going wrong but don’t take action until it’s too late, and our issue is out of control. And then we try to clean up the mess without taking a moment to reflect how the problem even started. I know the cause of the Fruit Fly War I, but I don’t know what caused the resurgence. And then in trying to clean up the mess, I tended to the garbage disposal, but left the crumbs on the counter and the sticky stains on the floor. I didn’t try to clean up all the possible causes of the issue, just the one that was easiest to deal with.

So I’m going to stop living my life dealing with my problems once they’ve culminated into an ordeal. I’m going to take preventative steps to make sure that potential problems don’t actually come to fruition. I understand that things happen outside of my control and that this really overgeneralized lesson can’t come close to applying to everything, but it’s helping me to look at things a new way.

I just really wish it didn’t take fruit flies to get there!


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