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Fly On The Wall Doesn’t Care About Juicy Human Gossip

BOSTON– Despite the saying “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation,” most flies care very little about juicy human gossip, according to an article in the latest issue of Fly Magazine. One fly, who wished to remain anonymous, was quoted in the article as saying, “Flies pretty much care about one thing and one thing only, and that is finding food. And the smellier the place is that we can find it, whether it’s a pile of garbage or a pile of shit or a dead carcass, the happier we are.” Another fly agreed with him, saying, “We have no interest in the lives of human beings, unless they happen to be holding a fly swatter. In that case, they happen to have our complete and undivided attention.”

Olivia Demerest is a Professor Of Linguistics at Suffolk University in Boston. She has no explanation as to how this saying entered our culture. “Since flies show no more of an interest in gossip than any other insect, the whole thing seems a bit arbitrary,” she said. Demerest also has no explanation as to why a fly has to be on a wall in order to obtain the gossip. “If a fly is on a wall, as opposed to hiding in a corner, there’s a much bigger chance that someone will see it and then kill it,” she said. “Therefore, there would be no advantage for a human being to be a fly on the wall. If it were up to me, I would be a ladybug since most people are reluctant to kill them, and I would place myself a lot closer to the two people who are talking rather than be all the way over on the wall.” Demeter said that a better alternative to the saying would be “I would have loved to have been a ladybug in the center of the room during that conversation.”

Demerest made it clear, however, that in no way would she ever actually want to be a lady bug. “There’s no reason why a mentally healthy human being would ever wish to become an insect,” she said. “Anyone who has ever read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis could tell you that.”


November 3, 2007


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