Dad was not the outdoors type, so there were no camping trips during my childhood. My mom, having been raised on a farm, had fond memories of family picnics in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “Even in the summer, you would need a sweater,” my mom would relate excitedly while rattling off the variety of dishes they brought along. It sounded like a great time.
So mom insisted the three of us go on picnics. We didn’t have anything as spectacular as the Smoky Mountains in our neighborhood, so a local park would have to suffice. The food spread wasn’t quite as delectable as what Mom had as a kid, but I think it included chicken and potato salad and some kind of dessert.
The trouble started with the uninvited guests. The flies. Dad was not fond of bugs of any kind, and would swat at the flies with erratic sweeping gestures that made him look like he was overacting in a 1950’s sci-fi B-movie. I’m sure they had flies in Ireland (aren’t they kind of like roaches, you can find them almost anywhere?) but a warm spring or summer day in Southern California brought forth the flies, the bees and the ants. It was too much for my Dad to handle.
He ate hurriedly, trying to avoid another encounter with a fly. While I liked certain bugs (the roly-poly or bus bug was a favorite of mine) I also was annoyed by flies and terrified of bees or any creature that could sting or bite. So I would mimic Dad’s behavior, which would annoy my mom, who just wanted to enjoy a nice meal outdoors with her family. A simple request, right? Not for our family.
To this day, if a fly gets into the house, I must hunt it down and destroy it because the buzzing and flying around drives me crazy. Hopefully, Dad was not reincarnated as a fly!