Shoo Fly

It was disappointing. Hugely disappointing.

For reasons that I do not know, over the past several days, the topic of microwave ovens have been a center of conversation for me. How they work. Why we have them. Are they good or bad? Improvement to society or not? Stuff like that. And, because I was raised in the 80s’ I have seen some things done with microwaves (in movies and television) that have stayed with me.

Where do we draw the line? Humanity has tested things on people, animals, and insects throughout history, for a variety of reasons, with interesting results. Some of those results are that we have decided that much of our testing should not be done on people. Okay. Some of those results required that we do more testing on people. Okay. And the same goes for the animals and insects. But, why? Why do we care when we care? What is it that makes us draw the line in the sand for one thing and not the other? And, what does any of this have to do with the start of my story? Well, hopefully, I will be able to make it all clear.

By raise of hands, who has watched the movie Gremlins (1984)? Good to know.

If you haven’t seen the movie Gremlins, then you are not familiar with the awesome microwave oven scene. There comes a point in the movie where a mother traps one of the gremlin monsters in her microwave oven and then she presses the start button. The gremlin monster begins to wiggle and writhe. Then it blows up! Liquidy-gooey goop squirted all over the inside of the microwave oven door. It was SO cool! Ever since then, I have wanted to do that. That means that for almost 40 years I have wanted to blow up a gremlin in a microwave oven.

I know what I wrote.

So, when microwaves (not the oven kind, the energy kind) are focused toward an object, the water in that object becomes excited, turns to steam, then steams off. If the water vapor cannot escape, the object explodes. Thus, the gutsy move on the gremlin.

Let’s bring this all together now, shall we?

I would assume that people would agree that placing a person in a microwave oven and then pressing the start button would be a bad thing. I would also assume that most people would not like it if a small (live) animal were placed in a microwave oven, and then had the start button pressed. This would also be considered a bad move. Live things in a microwave = not good. I get it. But, there was this one day…

Stay with me. Don’t quit on me now.

I was about fourteen years old. I was in the kitchen. Opportunity knocked. I had to answer.

Most of the details are fuzzy. I know I was making lunch. I’m pretty sure I was home alone. It was spring/summer time. There were bugs.

All I wanted to do was make my sandwich and go to my room. That’s all. But, every few seconds I was interrupted by this enormous housefly that kept buzzy about my face and food. I would swat at it. I would flail my arms about in an attempt to shoo it away. It would go away—for about two seconds—and then it would return with a vengeance of annoyancyness (I know what I wrote). I was going bezonkers. Every time I would try to end it with the flyswatter, the pest would disappear. As soon as I put the swatter away, it would come back. IT KNEW! The only thing it stayed around for was me and my sandwich. I needed a plan.

If the stupid fly wanted what I had so badly, I would end it. And I did.

Somehow I was able to maneuver myself near our microwave oven. I very carefully, and slowly, opened the door—the fly was getting very nervous. I knew it was getting very nervous because every time my movements became slightly exaggerated, it would fly off and stay away for longer and longer periods of time. I had to be careful.

Eventually, I was able to get the fly interested in the inside of the microwave by pretending to place my sandwich in the microwave oven (I know what I wrote). With the door just being open, the fly would not go in. However, after I placed my sandwich in the microwave (I didn’t really, I just pretended to. like went you ‘magically’ make a quarter appear from a 5-year-old’s ear), that fly went right in.

Using my best Gretel impersonation, I slammed the oven door closed and pressed the start button. The microwave lit up so brightly. Brighter than I had ever seen it before. As if to say, “I know what this means to you. I will do my best.” I almost cried. I had my face less than half an inch away from that radiation factory (maybe that’s why I cried?), I wanted to see the whole event! It was an old microwave oven—even for that time period—so, there is a good chance I almost irradiated myself into the Incredible Hulk. Another minute on high…

At first, that fly shot up and started to zig-zag all about the chamber. Within seconds, it began to wabble in its flight path. Eventually, it lit upon the bottom, staggered about—wings twitching spasmodically, fell over, and stopped moving. Dead.

I waited and waited. No pop. I didn’t expect gremlin-level of gut-gushing, but I did expect something. I got nothing. Remember that part where I mentioned something about a water level? Yeah, it turns out that the amount of water in a house fly amounts to nothing—even if that fly is the size of a Buick. No pop. No fizzle. Just death.

Yeah, this was a short—possibly very disappointing—story for this week. Not much different from the fly in the microwave.

Now you know how I felt.

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