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Friday, December 28, 2012

education in the garbage

life's lessons are found in some of the most unusual places...if you're not attentive and thoughtful, you can miss some of the most meaningful ones...when i was a boy, our family dog provided me with just such a lesson...the dog had brutally molested a bag of garbage in the garage...being summer, and hotter than a menopausal woman doing step aerobics in hell, the contents of the bag had become quite rotten over the week or so that it was out there...as much as i want to and as much as you expect it, i will refrain from nauseating you with vivid descriptions of the stinking, maggot-infested mess that was strewn about the floor .......as i was gathering the last few pieces of trash, i found a crumpled cigarette pack that vibrated slightly when i picked it up...turning it over, i saw that there was a fly trapped between the cellophane and the cigarette pack...it was a very abnormal fly; afflicted with a severe deformity...his wing and all of the legs on the left side of his body were only a fraction of the size of those on his right side [note my decision to use masculine pronouns...this is either some sort of symbolism or merely an effort to piss off the grammatical egalitarians out there]...i studied the situation for a moment and realized what had happened...when he was a young and foolish maggot living in the garbage bag, he crawled into the cigarette pack and nestled himself down in the cellophane seeking a safe place to hide during his metamorphosis into an adult fly...when he hatched from the little brown cocoon that was still in there with him, his shape had changed such that he could no longer fit into the wrinkle of cellophane through which he had entered...the pack was crumpled in a way that allowed the fly a very limited amount of space in which to grow...the cavity that he occupied between the cellophane and the pack was shaped like a crescent with its inner edge crushed down onto the left side of his body...his range of movement was therefore limited to a few steps forward to the top of the tiny crescent, or a few steps backward to the bottom...without the ability to turn around, his right side developed normally while his left side was severely stunted...based on the size of the fly, i assume that he had been living in this situation for the better part of the week...i began to wonder what it must be like...half of his adult life was over and all that he knew of the world was this tiny confined space that had slowly deformed him...i started to feel pity for the fly...after all, it could happen to anyone...you crawl into a place that feels safe and comfortable, and before long you realize that you have changed into something that can no longer escape...being the compassionate soul then that i still am to this day, i decided to free him from this disturbing circumstance...i carefully unfolded the cigarette pack and dumped him out onto the concrete floor of the garage...he stood there for a few seconds and then began to buzz wildly around in a counterclockwise circle on the floor...when he finally wore out, he began to walk; again, in a circle...as i watched him buzzing and walking and then buzzing some more, i became a bit depressed...crippled by his prison, he lacked the ability to lead a normal life... it bothered me more and more as i sadly observed his futile efforts to function in the real world...i thought about crushing him to put me out of his misery...it may sound cruel, but i decided to put him back into the cigarette pack...i did my best to restore his tiny world to its previous shape as i softly crumpled the pack and tossed it into the garbage can...i have done a great deal of thinking about that fly lately; wondering if it was wrong to return him to his prison...i don't think so...at least in there he fit and he could live an illusion of normalcy...i think that the cruelty was in removing him in the first place and showing him a world that he could never enjoy...

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