Like a Wriggly Tic Tac

26 October 2013 | Diary

North Americans are awfully squeamish about maggots.

Barely a day goes by without some terrible slur against the noble corpse-dwelling pupae.

The North American vernacular is crammed with expressions derisory to the maggot. “The man’s a maggot!” they say. And, “I can’t eat that, there’s a maggot in it”.

I heard today that an otherwise tame horror movie can be honked up to an R-rating if a zombie happens to have a maggoty eye.

Keep the horror movies accessible to teenagers, I say, and whack a parental advisory on the poster, “warning: may contain thousands of maggots”.

You know, like certain supermarkets do with their microwavable pies.

What does this continent have against maggots? I cannot fathom it. They’re just baby flies. Goo-Goo, Ga-Ga, Wriggle-Writhe, Buzz Buzz. Adorable.

Yet you’d be a social pariah in North America if you were to make a special cradle for a maggot, dress it up in swaddling clothes and invite your friends to hold it.

Next you’ll be denying young millipedes of their rusks.

North America, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a heart-warming story about the little maggot who grew legs. Proverbially.

In a science class at high school (and our school was very high — they built it in a tree), we were asked to race maggots against each other.

The point was to discover the experimental variable capable of building the champion maggot.

Would a maggot, for example, be empowered or crippled by exposure to light? Would it thrive or choke when soaked briefly in water? Would it chomp at the bit when shown titillating photography of celebrity maggots inadvertently exposing themselves while getting out of cars?

I was a step ahead in this guessing game because I’d witnessed fishermen along the local canal who’d used maggots as bait. Some of these stinking but wise oldsters would put the bait briefly under their tongue, thus warming the maggot and making it wriggle more appealingly when skewered on the hook.

Tongue heat! Tongue heat was the winning variable!

As any committed scientist would do, I copied the wacky angler.

Yes, I unflinchingly popped that maggot in my mouth, allowed it to squirm between the gaps in my teeth for a while (it felt to my tongue like a wriggly tic tac) and — upon the crack of the starter’s pistol — gobbed it from pursed lips onto the starting line and watched it gallop along the track to victory.

There were no photo finishes in this maggot race, I can tell you, North America. The other maggots — moistened maggots, lacquered maggots, maggots on the paleo diet, maggots who’d been trained in the Alexander Technique — were all left to eat my maggot’s dust.

What’s wrong with sucking on maggots, North America? If sucking on maggots is wrong, then I don’t want to be British.

Next you’ll be telling me you don’t like earwig caviar.