Monday, March 31, 2014

COLUMN: Fruitfly

If you ask any of my friends what their general impression of me is, I reckon you'll hear three different responses: (1) Shane is a big dork. (2) Shane can occasionally be funny (I hope). (3) Shane is incapable of independent living and survives from day-to-day thanks only to our constant assistance and a whole lot of luck.

When it comes to responsibility, I was something of a late bloomer. In these irresponsible hands, my first apartment quickly descended to a state borderline unfit for human habitation. If you were one of those lucky enough to have come a-callin' during that time, you likely witnessed mountains of dirty dishes, bags of garbage, and my famous leaning tower of pizza.

I usually never crossed the unspoken line between messy and filthy. I kept my clothes laundered, my body showered, and myself marginally presentable. But beyond that, all bets were off. I'm not saying I was lazy, I'm saying I was the laziest person on Earth. But hey, it was a long walk to the dumpster, plus it was the first time I didn't have my mom yelling at me to clean my room.

At some point, though, I had to grow up. It turns out that, by and large, women in their 30s were NOT especially impressed by the various fast food exhibits in the Interactive Museum of Laziness that I called an apartment. The turning point was when a girl came over, took one look at my apartment, and assumed that I had been robbed. I had to sheepishly explain to her that for me, "ransacked" was more of a lifestyle choice than an actual event.

A couple years ago, I abandoned apartment life and bought a house. I like to think that it's a fairly nice house, and I've been doing my best to keep it such -- or at least keep it from being declared a biohazard. Thus far, things have been going well.

I have a magical machine that washes dishes for me. There's another machine in the basement that launders clothes without having to share the fecal matter of strangers (thanks for THAT science nugget, internet.) Instead of a long walk to the dumpster, I can lean out my back door and slam-dunk the trash bin. I've traded drive-thrus for supermarkets and discovered the Swiffer Wet-Jet. I've (gasp) matured.

Okay, I still need occasional help with the cleaning, especially when the parents are coming up. And there are still moments that I look around, say "whoa," and grab a trash bag. And then there was this week, when my humble abode was invaded by a strike force of unlimited power and ruthlessness.

I was sitting on my couch in a television daze when the first one zipped by my line of sight: drosophila melanogaster, aka the common fruitfly. I noted this as odd for two reasons: (1) Obviously, nothing can survive in this climate except we idiots who are too stupid to move somewhere warm, and (2) my house contains a lot of things, but fruit isn't often one of them.

Within a couple days, one pest became two, and then three, and then a small air force. The trash was out, the dishes done, and all food put away, yet the menace remained. When the cats started attacking the air in defiance of both gravity and safety, I knew it was time to act.

The same internet that informed me of the microscopic horrors of laundromats also taught me how to build an ingenious fruitfly trap. Take a jar, make a teeny funnel for a lid, and fill it with apple cider vinegar. Fruitflies can't resist the yummy fermentation and are too stupid to find the way out. I set up the trap just in time to make the drive home for Christmas.

I returned expecting a yuletide holocaust of belly-up fruitflies. Instead, I had an empty trap and a full scale invasion on my hands. Not cool, ESPECIALLY when I was carrying in Mom-baked Christmas awesomeness (thankfully all Ziploc'ed up - my mom knows me too well.) The day before, I had shamefully fessed up my plight to friends. I was told I had to have something rotting in Denmark to cause such an invasion. No, no, I reassured. Not me. Not responsible, mature, home-owning me. Those days were behind me.

But then I opened my cupboard and looked carefully at what I call the ex-girlfriend shelf. My ex was a huge health nut and occasionally bought groceries. After we split up, the yummier residents of my cupboard were consumed, while inedible horrors like quinoa, rice cakes, and artichoke hearts slowly made their way to the bottom shelf, never to be spoken of again. I decided to move that box of quinoa -- and followed that decision with a jolly holiday retch.

Beyond the quinoa lay a bag containing two potatoes. At least I'm pretty sure they were potatoes when I bought them in mid-2012. They certainly weren't potatoes any longer. And this new wildly-colored lifeform was quite literally eating its way through the bottom shelf. There are no words, people. Imagine the grossest thing you could possibly imagine, and then sprinkle that thing with maggots. Did I mention I'm available for dates, ladies?

I touched it. I'm pretty sure it touched back. That's when the smell released. I ran to my trusty Scentsy burners and fired them up en masse. Within minutes, my kitchen was filled with the lush aroma of a pine forest -- were that pine forest full of dead bodies.

And hey, did I mention I had a GIRL over at the time? My friend Dianna gets the gold star, because while I was figuring out how to assemble a homemade Hazmat suit, she had already grabbed the bleach and gone to work. All I could do was act like a cheerleader and join her in a chorus of Christmas retching. Within minutes -- the most disgusting minutes of my life -- it was done, along with the entire contents of my kitchen cupboard and any remaining dignity I happened to have.

Victory is mine, but at what cost? The fruitflies have been evicted and the safety-sealed holiday treats devoured. My house is back in some semblance of order, and no one except you 100,000+ readers are any the wiser to the horrors that last week held. In a strange way, maybe this was a GOOD thing. You see, yesterday was my birthday. Normally at this time, I'd be sinking into my annual depression about becoming an old complacent fuddy-duddy. But how can I be a fuddy-duddy if I'm still irresponsible and immature enough to make a cute girl nearly barf thanks to my ineptitude at life? I've still got it, people. Party on.

No comments: