Friday, 6 January 2012

Summer holiday reading

One evening in early March, when she went to the Rockefeller Library to pick up the reserve reading for Semiotics 211, she found Leonard there as well. He was leaning against the counter, speaking animatedly to the girl on duty, who was unfortunately rather cute in a busty Bettie Page way.
"Think about it, though," Leonard was saying to the girl, "Think about it from the point of view of the fly."
"O.K., I'm a fly," the girl said with a throaty laugh.
"We move in slow motion to them. They can see the swatter coming from a million miles away. The flies are like, 'Wake me when the swatter gets close.'"
Noticing Madeleine, the girl told Leonard, "Just a sec."
Madeleine held out her call order slip, and the girl took it and went off into the stacks.
"Picking up the Balzac?" Leonard said.
"Balzac to the rescue."
Normally, Madeleine would have had many things to say to this, many comments about Balzac to make. But her mind was a blank. She didn't even remember to smile until he'd looked away.
Bettie Page came back with Madeleine's order, sliding it toward her and immediately turning back to Leonard. He seemed different than he did in class, more exuberant, supercharged. He raised his eyebrows in a crazed, Jack Nicholson way and said, "My housefly theory is related to my theory about why time seems to go faster as you get older."
"Why's that?" the girl asked.
"It's proportional," Leonard explained. "When you're five, you've only been alive a couple thousand days. But by the time you're fifty, you've lived around twenty thousand days. So a day when you're five seems longer because it's a greater percentage of the whole."
"Yeah, sure," the girl teased, "that follows."
But Madeleine had understood. "That makes sense," she said. "I always wondered why that was."
"It's just a theory," Leonard said.
Bettie Page tapped Leonard's hand to get his attention. "Flies aren't always so fast," she said. "I've caught flies in my bare hands before."
"Especially in winter," Leonard said. "That's probably the kind of fly I'd be. One of those knucklehead winter flies."
There was no good excuse for Madeleine to hang around the reserve reading room, and so she put the Balzac into her bag and headed out.
From The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Mark T said...

Interesting reading. Have you ever wondered how flies land on the roof?

Walking fool said...

No. Do you have a theory?

Mark T said...

Freeze frames, from the high-speed cameras scientists used, proved that flies do not flip, but flop, as they land upon the ceiling. Prior to impact, the fly extends its forward legs over its head, makes contact, and uses the momentum it has gathered in flight to hoist the remainder of its body to the ceiling. Thus, the fly proves to be more of an acrobat, than of a fighter pilot practicing his maneuvers.

Once the fly reunites all six feet on the ceiling, it keeps things dizzingly exciting, by gracefully tiptoing across the ceiling, securing itself by using sticky pads found under the two claws attached to each of its feet. It is because of these sticky pads and the hairs on the legs that the fly is such a carrier of disease germs.

Did you know? The entire life of a house fly is spent within a few hundred feet of the area where it was born.

Milk exports said...
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