Being in Arizona when it rains is a lot like being in the South when it snows; absolute pandemonium ensues. You can see the panicked look on driver’s faces as they desperately flip through their owner’s manuals (whilst driving) trying to find the section that will tell them how to turn on their windshield wipers. Even better is the look of confused anger when they finally get them into operation and they keep making that awful farting sound as the rotted blades drag back and forth across the windshield. You can sometimes even read their lips as they scream, “WTF?! I just replaced these three years ago and I’ve never even used them!” It’s quite entertaining. This level of panic, as I discovered on the night in question, is not at all limited to humans. No species likes to be out in the rain in Arizona...especially flies.
As you may have deduced, it was raining on the night this event occurred. I was cooking dinner while my then girlfriend and our French Bulldog, Zuri, were on the couch watching television. We were having spaghetti with homemade meatballs and the water was just beginning to boil. All was right with the world when I decided we should open the patio door and enjoy the breeze and the smell of the rain. My girlfriend, let’s just call her ‘Betty,’ had grown up in Arizona. I had not. Betty advised me the second I opened the door that it was not the best idea. However, it was already too late.
Our house was suddenly under attack by what I came to call ‘Al Flyda.’ Within seconds they were inside and everywhere in the house. Their numbers were incalculable and even worse, judging by how quickly and smoothly they had swarmed in, they were also trained and organized. Betty made some disparaging comments, mainly about me not listening or something, while Zuri just kind of looked around with that all too familiar ‘not my problem’ dog face.
I needed a plan...and a weapon.
Flyswatters are an interesting item; you never think to buy them until you need them. Plungers are very similar that way. Have you ever seen anyone at a store selecting a plunger to purchase without a hurried and desperate look on their face? Neither have I. Needless to say, we didn't have a flyswatter. Fortunately it was ‘full circle trash day.’ That’s what I call that day of the week when the garbage collectors pick up your trash (consisting mostly of junk mail) in the morning, and then the mail carrier seemingly puts it all right back into your mailbox that afternoon. What a system! I grabbed a sales ad from the Walmart, rolled it up, and prepared to do a detailed zone reconnaissance of every room in the house. As I was 'fittin' to ride on them bitches,’ Betty asked about dinner. Shit...dinner. I quickly set the oven to preheat and got the meatballs out of the refrigerator. I humbly thanked God that I had made them earlier in the day as there was no way I was going to have time now. I then managed to get the majority of the noodles from the box into the now boiling water. Some landed on the stove, others on the floor. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I hate a messy kitchen but this was no time to appease my OCD as there was treachery afoot. I crunched a few noodles under my foot as I departed the kitchen en route to the spare bedroom...ready to kill.
Al Flyda operatives buzzed and attacked me the whole way down the long hallway, my sales ad no match for their blinding speed and agility. I kept low and just went for it; flowing into the room and dominating the corners like a highly-trained Army Ranger. As I suspected, they were absolutely everywhere. As I began what can only be described as an unathletic, arm-flailing assault, a good portion of them began to flee back out the open bedroom door. It was a classic tactical blunder; I left them a way out and a means by which to consolidate and reorganize. Recognizing my error, I quickly closed the door to seal off the remaining operatives and continued my one-man sales ad onslaught. In the spirit of John McClane, I tried to come up with cool one-liners as I destroyed their souls but only managed one: “Lettuce for $.49, MotherScratchers!” Clearly not my best work but I was caught up in the carnage. Relatively quickly, I turned the tide in the spare bedroom and the floor was soon littered with the bodies of the vanquished. I stood there momentarily, arms raised, and preparing to shout “This. Is. Chandler!” like some Spartan warrior. However, Betty beat me to the punch suggesting loudly...and impatiently, that I should put the meatballs into the now preheated oven and also stir the noodles. I made sure to close the door to the spare bedroom thus securing my newly conquered ‘white space’ from infiltration and made my way back to the kitchen via the hallway of death. I took out a few on my way but I knew I still hadn't even made a dent. As I entered the kitchen, I glanced into the living room and for the first time realized that there were civilians on the battlefield, i.e. Betty and Zuri.
This new realization took things up a notch as I now had to be not only conscious of their safety, but I also had to make sure Al Flyda didn’t somehow garner their support. They were both hungry and clearly on the fence and I had to do my best to separate them from the enemy and win them over to my side. Otherwise, any hope for long term strategic success would be all but lost. Betty was clearly annoyed by them as demonstrated by all the fruitless swatting she was doing so I felt somewhat alright about her. Zuri, on the other hand, seemed quite indifferent about my cause and Al Flyda’s; she was clearly going to take some convincing. I moved over to Betty, bent down and gave her a kiss; professing my love for her and showing genuine support for her interests by asking which Kardashian was currently on the screen. I then pet Zuri, rubbed her belly, and asked if she wanted a meatball. She did. I went back to the kitchen, retrieved two meatballs from the casserole dish, and brought them back to the living room. Zuri inhaled it and then burped...signifying approval. I gave the other to Betty just for good measure. With the population now clearly on my side (See my book: Counterinsurgency with a Chance of Meatballs), I put the casserole dish into the oven, stirred the noodles, and then headed back out into the contested areas.
I cleared each room and common area in the house methodically just as I had the spare bedroom and within 15 minutes, I had dislodged Al Flyda from what I would later proclaim to be ‘Sampsellistan.’ Additionally, my sales ad was effing disgusting. More importantly, I had protected the population by showing them that I truly cared about their well-being; having put myself between them and the enemy despite the obvious personal risks. I also proved to them, through steadfast determination and overwhelming violence of action, that I would not quit until Al Flyda was no longer a threat.
As we sat down to our dinner (that was served right on time, by the way), I thanked Betty and Zuri for their support. I also promised Betty that I would employ the vacuum cleaner after dinner in order to conduct the mopping up portion of my campaign. Betty looked up at me, eyes beautiful and blue, clearly filled with love and admiration for her man of action and said, “So...no sauce then?”