Time past for saving flies

Dorothy L. Harris

"Did you want to keep these flies," Mr. Harris inquired, waving a Ziploc bag with two dried out insects in it.

"Oh, my," I stammered, completely forgetting I had put them aside months ago. "We can toss them," I replied sweetly.

"You just never know what you'll find in the coupon box," he quipped, flipping open the trash can lid and dropping my bugs into the depths. Laughing, I scooted over to him and embraced him in a big hug.

"You're a swell guy, you know that? Most guys would never put up with this."

I'm fairly certain 85 percent of men couldn't identify a coupon box if it bit them, let alone admit to using it. I'd also be willing to wager 99.9 percent of men would never find a bag of dried out flies in their wife's coupon box, if they did venture enough nerve to inspect it.

After years of working in the wilds of Florida, entomology became a serious interest of mine. I especially like beetles, but even peculiar flies I haven't seen before are enough to draw my interest, thus the dead flies my dear husband found in the coupon box. How they got filed, though, is beyond me. I suspect they were sitting on the counter and were moved, because hey, how many people want deceased flies, even those safely and sanitarily enclosed in a freezer bag, sitting on their counter? Like I said, he's one in a million.

If I'm creeping you out, stop reading right now because I'm going to reminisce about the time I brought home a dead snake from burn school. Some nitwit in our assigned team freaked out over a coral snake and killed it. It was a lovely specimen and as I had an interpretive program at the time focused on, believe it or not, dead stuff, I was allowed to claim it and bring it back with me.

I had planned to skin it once I got home, but life was busy and I forgot. It stayed nice and warm, sheltered from the weather in the back of our pickup truck. Did I mention we had a topper? Well, when Mr. Harris finally discovered his dearest's latest find, it wasn't pleasant - for me, him or the dead creature. Phew! That was the end of putting carrion in the vehicles, if you get my drift.

I haven't had much of a need to collect lifeless things anymore, but sometimes I find something so intriguing, I just can't help myself. Like the last time our cat Bagheera killed a squirrel and hid it so we couldn't take it away from him. When our noses led us to the slaughter, the burying beetles had already been actively at work and I was totally pumped to find them. Beautiful in their black and orange patterned bodies, their efforts burying and consuming dead critters is quite a remarkable thing. I wanted to collect a few, but realized I no longer had a venue for this sort of specimen, precluding the need to keep them.

So, back to Mr. Harris and the amazing way he puts up with all this nonsense. It's been quite a while since we've had snakes, lizards and insects living in Lucite containers around the house. I guess he had gotten used to not having to flinch when he opens a box, or maybe he thought this past time had finally passed into time.