portrait of The Comedic Gnat

Thursday, February 18, 2021

thoughts from The Comedic Gnat

Neighborhood gossip inspired my recent adventure. Both pieces of gossip involve the Performance Hall in town. No, this isn’t my elaborately decorated Hackberry Joint that bursts at the seams every week as my fans crowd in to hear my jokes! This Performance Hall is where humans with peculiar-shaped luggage whistle and hum as they walk. It’s where crowds leave with a tune in their ears and a shared rhythm in their steps. It’s where glowing lights illuminate a stage. And where a sea of people peer forward from their plush seats and optimistically crane their necks to catch of glimpse of the talented performers. And it’s where a crew of workers labor in the gardens, weed along the sidewalk, scrub the windows, and ensure everything looks exceptionally tidy for the humans who assemble as the audience.

The first tidbit of gossip I heard is that one of these workers is new. Historically, that means that they’ll be told, “Go water the gardens.” For me and my friends, this is gold! The most recent hires have been reliable over-waterers, and the excessively moist soil they create is a complete joy and so helpful for our new larvae starting out in the world.

The other gossip to inspire my adventure was that there are calla lilies blooming at the Performance Hall. I adore the grace and playful spin of these flowers. They wrap around so effortlessly and connect into the stem as one cohesive unit like fancy goblets mounted on long green stems. Perhaps humans imagine drinking chocolate milk from them! Either way, I was eager to see them up close!

My trek to the Performance Hall began. As usual, I tested out jokes and punch-lines in my head on the way. For your reference, I use my “performance voice” when I practice these. . .

. . .it’s not a cottontail rabbit, it’s a cottontail squirrel!
Why can’t the larvae get enough fungus to eat? Because, with so many siblings, there isn’t mushroom for the larvae at the dining table!
When you were a larvae, do you recall tunneling for roots or rooting for tunnels? I rooted for tunnels . . . that my siblings would dig instead of me!

Ha, ha maybe I’m not that funny . . . but I do crack myself up, and that’s good enough for me!

After my typical stumbling-style flight pattern, I arrived. No calla lilies outside the Performance Hall, so I explored more. It appeared the soil in the flowerbeds was sufficiently saturated, so I decided to plan to a return in a week or so to check on any larvae. My flight pattern faltered as distractions of the world surrounded me, and I was caught in an eddy of wind. I spun and cartwheeled through the air. My wings felt useless for several seconds as the breeze took hold of my path. I imagined I was caught in the rolling sound of laughter. . . spinning joyfully, head over heals for humor, and bouncing along effortlessly to someone else’s well-told story.

But then, rather clumsily, I landed on a human’s head! The moisture of their skin, their ears, their eyes, nose, and mouth all welcomed me. Before I could fully establish my surroundings, the human and I were inside the Hall. Sound filled the space. The resonance tickled my wings and wiggled my legs. Humans were transfixed: they sat remarkably still, their eyes directed toward the stage, their ears seeming to stretch extra far outward to catch every drop of music. The music became lively and their bodies swayed lightly with child-like energy. But when the music became somber, they sat back heavily in their seats, rested tired hands on armrests, and extended a hand to their companion seated at their side.

As the humans became increasingly hypnotized by the music, I was drawn to the flower-like shapes on stage. I left my perch on my human guide and ventured closer. Warm, moist air poured out of these shiny funnel-like shapes. There were so many! Some opened downward toward the musicians’ shoes, some faced forward to the audience, and some sent air spinning backwards after a journey through eighteen feet of shiny pipes! What a roller-coaster ride it would be to follow those pipes around and around all while being wrapped in a musical jet-stream of air. To construct such an instrument, these humans must be comedians, too!

Although there were no calla lilies to see, my enthusiasm for adventure was electrified by exploring those brassy air-filled and flower-shaped instruments. With one neighborhood rumor refuted and one confirmed, I took my haphazard flight toward home. Visions of funnel-like flowers and dancing air filled my head. And, all the while, I began crafting a new comedy routine about those wonderfully wild backwards-facing instruments!

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Midge | Insect.” Accessed February 28, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/animal/midge.

Cloyd, Raymond A. “Ecology of Fungus Gnats (Bradysia Spp.) in Greenhouse Production Systems Associated with Disease-Interactions and Alternative Management Strategies.” Insects 6, no. 2 (June 2015): 325–32. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects6020325.

Missouri Botanical Garden. “Fungus Gnats.” Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/insects/flies/fungus-gnats.aspx.