A couple of weeks ago I found myself thinking about fly strips. I’m sure I might be exaggerating but if my memory serves me even partially correct, we used to have between 5 and 10 of them hanging from the ceiling of the kitchen and pantry in my childhood apartment.
Fly carcasses stuck to sticky brown paper by the dozens in varying stages of decay. I used to feel terrible for the poor guys as they struggled for survival next to their dead family members.
I felt even worse for myself whenever I went into the pantry in search of food. I was constantly freaked out that I would get one stuck in my hair and then I would have to continue enduring life with dead flies stuck to my scalp.
These things were Adhesive strong. Even peanut butter couldn’t have removed that accessory.
They were always covered in flies too so it isn’t like my mom was just placing them there to add to the overall ambiance of our apartment.
She was a resourceful woman, my mother. Much too busy for fly swatting. She did what she had to do to get things done.
There were 4 of us not including her and money was tight.We lived for weeks straight on spaghetti and powdered milk. Items like Powdered milk were a staple in our home. Using it isn’t much different from pouring straight water onto your generic toasted flakes cereal.
Trust me. I tried once.
I remember a time when a woman from church gave my mom a bunch of frozen milk. It came in small cartons, elementary school cafeteria style. All of the cartons were just on the edge of reaching their expiration date.
You would have thought she had given us prime rib.
I actually planned on pretending to be sick the next day so that I could stay home alone and enjoy a gluttonous feast of real, honest to God milk. I was going to eat tons of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wash it down with carton after carton of white, creamy, satisfying, cold deliciousness.
The fantasies of a welfare kid.
One memory that keeps demanding that I give it attention is of the time I accidentally electrocuted myself.
I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I was hanging out in my mom’s room and I decided to stick a metal bobby pin in the electrical socket. Why not right? I’m sure I’m not the only kid who decided at some point that this was a brilliant plan.
The shock of it sent me flying a couple of feet back onto my butt and caused minor burns to my finger tips.
I don’t remember being scared or in pain.
What I remember most clearly is the sizzling sound the bobby pin made when it hit the wood floor and burnt its way a few inches down. Settling forever into its new home. There was a distinct smell. Metal and wood combined to assault my senses. It looked bad ass cool. A bobby pin forever imprinted on the floor. Actually burnt right into it.
I had branded the place.
I couldn’t believe I had made it happen.
I wanted to do it again.
As I write more and more about past events I continue to have random flashes of memory from when I was a child. Strange thoughts keep popping into my brain uninvited. Most of them I’m sure I had intended to keep locked away forever. Some may never resurface. Nor should they.
Others, like the bobby pin electrocution, have probably been waiting for a while. Kicking my brain occasionally. Patiently hanging around to be remembered and given the respect they have earned.
I must have walked by the imprint of that bobby pin a thousand times growing up. I checked to make sure it was still there each and every time. I knew full well it couldn’t not be, yet I still felt a small thrill of excitement every time I saw it was.
I made that happen.
I changed that place in such a way that it would never be the same again. A small change and arguably not one for the better; but change non the less.
Burnt bobby pins, dead flies and powdered milk.
These are what little girls are made of.