Fly on window screen, closeup

Why does a fly in the ointment have to spoil everything? Oops, I meant hair, not ointment, and no disrespect to our vice president. 

If there was one moment—or living creature—that “stole the show” during the vice presidential debate, it was certainly the little, black fly that landed on Vice President Pence’s hair and then sat there, quiet as a mouse, not moving a wing, for an entire 2 minutes. 

The “fly” in the hair broke the internet with over 100,000 memes and tweets in 1 minute. The Biden campaign had a “Pence Fly Swatter” up on its website for sale within minutes, selling 35,000 within an hour! Hey, who said debates are boring?

I give Pence great credit for sitting still and not even addressing the errant insect. Even the moderator said nothing. Sen. Harris ignored it. Yet it was in plain sight for all to see! So how, exactly, did a fly become the “big news” out of a 90-minute debate? That, my friends, is only something an expert on “cultural phenomena” can answer. And I am waiting for the explanation. Politics are generally not funny. 

Passions flares and angry words, loud voices, finger pointing, smirking and name-calling have often been the substitutes for substance. We, the American people, do notice that when asked a direct question, politicians just answer with whatever talking points are important to them, which often has little to do with the question. Evasion tactics are in full display when you are watching a debate! 

But who can ignore a fly? Evidently, we can’t. There are T-shirts now selling that show Pence with the fly on his head with the caption, “The crowned winner of the debate! Flies don’t lie.” In defense of the vice president, there have been numerous discussions about why the fly “chose” his head. Well, he does have beautiful silver hair, so perhaps that is the reason. A rancher in Texas has come forward stating (with no particular scientific evidence) that flies prefer to land on white horses over brown horses. So maybe it was a color attraction? Hmm, and having a brown and white horse, I would agree. A beauty shop owner in Phoenix claims that flies are attracted to hairspray, suggesting that our vice president was “lacquered” more than his opponent. 

There have been some headlines that scream, “The Fly Was A Spy!” (Nonsense.) And one reporter claimed that the fly was “trying to capture the spotlight” and “distracting” viewers from the content of the debate. (Perhaps.) Well, in that regard, our little winged friend seems to have achieved a measure of success. Still, if anything came out of this “fly situation,” it is that Americans have a sense of humor, love mischief and know how to have a good laugh. 

Elections are serious. Yet this fly got more mention on Twitter than any other the 2020 candidate! But much like the real world, the life cycle of celebrity is fleeting. The fly had just a brief moment of stardom. And the best part of the whole affair? The genuine bipartisan laughter that came out it. We may not always agree across the aisle, but we can sure share a few giggles. And that was the best buzz so far. 


Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at