We had a monster fly in our house last night. Honestly, this was a huge sucker. You could do experiments on it but you'd need extra anesthesia before you operated. It followed me into the library where I was mourning the summer quilt, it followed me in the bedroom where I glared at the un-put-away laundry, it followed me back into the library and flew smack into my nose. I stomped into the computer room and demanded of Eric, "Where's that box?" referring to the TaxCut box he'd pulled out when he saw me looking alertly around with a CD case in my hand.
"There it is!" I said when he'd grabbed the box, and pointed to the lamp where the fly had just landed.
"That's a huge sucker!" Eric said. "I'm not sure I can get him with that angle on the lampshade. But it's so big, I bet I can. And I have the advantage that my shadow isn't falling on him."
He inched closer. He raised the TaxCut box. The fly twitched. Eric slammed the box into the lamp with all his might.
You know what happened next, right? Sudden darkness, crunchy sounds of things breaking. The buzz of a fly.
"I think I broke the bulb," came Eric's horrified voice. "The bulb with mercury vapors in it."
"What will that do?" I said nervously, feeling on the ground for broken bits, finding none in that spot and putting my foot down on the way to turn on the hallway light. "I can get the lamp from the library."
"That's a good idea," he said, and I did. "It wasn't the mercury bulb after all," Eric reported as I was bringing it.
However, this was the lamp we put in the library because the switch doesn't work. So we used the dim built-in sconce instead and we're buying real lamps tonight. "This is what you get when you buy $8 lamps," I observed as we set the lamp in the hall for later disposal. (I said I could use the pole for a bean pole, and potentially the lamp shade for frost protection. He said I was a dork.) "What would the mercury have done?"
"Slowly destroyed our brains," he said. "You know, 'mad as a hatter.'"
"In how long?" I persisted.
"With that much mercury? Oh, probably not before we died. And it's too bad. That was a new bulb."