Acting Gnat-urally

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019

If you see me walking outside these days, just a-flailing my arms and seemingly out of my mind, I’m just acting gnat-urally. Get it? Gnat-urally, as in fighting our most unlovable flying creatures.

I blame gnats on the Egyptians. Charlton Heston, uh…I mean Moses, went to Yul Brenner…that is Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go.”

Pharaoh replied, “Mose, do you think I’m crazy? If I let your people go, who’s going to build my pyramids? Who’s going to wash my chariot? All my people do, these days, is talk on their hieroglyphic phones.”

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Moses said, “If you don’t let my people go, my Lord has told me to strike the sand and something called gnats are going to swarm all around you and we’re all going to be in a heap of trouble.” At least those who live below Macon!

I don’t know this to be true, but there does seem to be a mythical “gnat line” in the state of Georgia. The map that I saw drew the line from just south of Columbus and eastward through Macon and on up to Augusta. I don’t know about a gnat line. I do know, however, that wherever it is, I live in a part of the state that is below it.

Since I’ve been a South Georgia boy all my life, I’ve always had to deal with the varmints. It seems every year someone will say, “I believe they are worse this year than ever before.” I haven’t seen the scientific evidence, but there are times during the day when I don’t believe they could be any worse.

Gnats, mysteriously, come and go. For instance, I can be outside beginning my morning walk at something like 7:15 and it’s okay. Then, as if some General Gnat has yelled, “Charge!” They seem to come out of nowhere and my face is covered with them.

At first, I try to endure the pests. I figure that if I don’t let them get to me, they’ll go away. Yeah, fat chance of that happening. Soon, I’m feeling like Custer at the Little Bighorn and I head for the house. When I get to the back door, I open fast, and try to rush in so not a gnat will get in the house.

It’s funny, outside it takes a swarm to drive you crazy, but inside the house or car, it only takes one. That one gnat will fly around your face until, if you had it, you’d use a tactical nuclear weapon to blow it to smithereens. And guess what? If it meant the house or car had to go, well, so be it. At least the world would have one less gnat.

Actually, I can do pretty well with them around my face. So long as they swarm around the cheek or neck, I can take it. It’s when they try to invade the orifices. Inside my ear or up my nose, that’s when something has to be done. Or, have you ever had one fly into your mouth? Some people say they taste sweet, but I don’t know. I never give my taste buds a chance to kick in. I’m too busy spitting or gagging.

The late, great southern humorist Lewis Grizzard alleges that many deaths may be attributed to the swallowing of gnats while eating or talking. In Life Span in Georgia, Lewis surmises that “a lot of South Georgians disappear and are never heard from again as they are carried off by giant swarms of gnats and drowned in the Okefenokee Swamp.”

It’s July and the gnats are pretty bad, but it’s Dog Days and August when the gnat pestilence reaches its zenith. Yippee!