Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Like Flies to Shit

According to a front page piece in Friday’s Times (“Learning From the Spurned and Tipsy Fruit Fly,” NYT, 3/15/12), many fruit flies are fruit cakes. Not to take a derogatory attitude towards addiction, which is a serious problem in our society, but it turns out many of these flies suffer from character disorders which can lead them right to the bottle. It’s a fly by night, easy come easy go world out there and the majority of fruit flies, like people, realize that relationships with members of the opposite sex, can be ephemeral until the knot is tied. The Venus fly trap is the equivalent of a prenup in the world of fruit flies. However, there are very thin-skinned male flies who go out and get drunk when they’ve been rejected by an alluring female from their world. This is not an absurdist joke. The Times piece reports on work published in the journal Science. “The study posted on line in the journal Science suggests that some elements of the brain’s reward system have changed very little during evolution, and these include some of the mechanisms that support addiction. Levels of a brain chemical that is active in regulating appetite predicted the flies’ thirst for alcohol. A similar chemical is linked to drinking in humans.” Be reassured the study was not conducted at any prominent Manhattan watering holes say like J.G. Melon on Third Avenue. And there is no plan to release a new version of the Ray Milland classic Lost Weekend with a very tiny version of the Gregor Samsa insect in the lead role. But the next question is how to get male fruit flies into recovery from their disease? When he is not getting drunk, the average male is more likely to be attracted to shit than to a church basement.

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