How we have risen in the world, from the flappy old screens of feed-store giveaways, bent with vigorous use, hanging behind everybody’s door, to shapes and colors and materials of another age, while the flies go merrily onward, unchanged in a million years.
My long-time e-mail friend in Arkansas sent me a picture of her fly-swatter, a little grab-bag gift from one of those home parties, and she asked one of those “Do you remember the time . . ?” questions about our high-school days---this one concerning homecoming, a flat-bed trailer and miles of crepe paper. I replied with quite a few memories of such and similar fun small-town outings from my own bulgy memory banks.
Then, somehow I segued into fly-swatters themselves---about as dry a subject as a regent's horsehair chownree---but I enjoyed delving into the little silly memories. All our Grands have just LOVED them, beginning with Gracie quite a few years ago. I bought a hot-pink one, fresh and pliable, for her use when she was still chewing drippily on everything she could raise to her mouth, and wanted so badly to get those itchy little gums on the big one hanging in the utility room.
So she had her own never-used, never-flapped one, and she gnawed it stem to stern, even leaving little tooth-dents all up the handle after she sprouted incisors.
THEN she discovered a horde of little moths which had invaded the house about this time of year---they somehow arrived, swooped about the downstairs, lit on walls and other pale surfaces (the more stupid they, since they are most visible and killable there). She named the bugs FLOOS for some reason---sounds reasonable to me---and chased them for DAYS, dispatching them unmercifully. She’d go get her floo-flapper and have at it. She climbed chairs, she jumped and swung, she left gray smudges on every wall in the house.
I followed her from room to room with a Lysol spray and a handful of paper towels. Now I wish I’d left just ONE little smudged reminder. I could have just hung a little picture over it, so as to uncover and remember now and again.
She did NOT, however, use her dear Pinkie for this purpose. It is still sacred, and hangs on a special nail, high up in the utility room, so no one will use it by mistake. It has taken on the status of a well-loved bankie and will probably travel with her to college and into her first home as part of her trousseau.
I, on the other hand, have a first-class green one, a gift from Chris when he saw her enjoyment of hers. MINE has teensy plastic teeth like a very delicate single line of Astroturf, sticking off the wide end, and is to be used as a fly-scooper-upper, in conjunction with the too-too precious two-inch dustpan which snaps on just where flap meets handle. It is the Rolls Royce of flappers, with its own little Susie Homemaker Barbie tools.
So, my friend has a fun bit of froufrou; Gracie has a piece of history from her infancy, and I, the plebeian bug-getter, have the utilitarian work-horse.
And now Sweetpea has had her own for quite a while---a little doll-face in a stiff bonnet. No flies for her, either---Flappy sits erect and attentive in her small chair as Sweetpea teaches numbers and letters to all her compadres from the toy tub.