THE LESSER OF TWO WEEVILS
By Larry Schwirian
Mavis and Marvin were a couple of happy-go-lucky boll weevils living in the deep South in the early 20th Century. At this time, boll weevils were decimating the cotton fields of practically every state in the south. Marvin, being male, thought of himself as superior and the more destructive of the two as he had a heartier appetite, but Mavis, seemingly the lesser of the two weevils, was more discerning. She also had a secret.
Either she happened to read the work of Swedish evolutionary biologists who discovered that female weevils live longer when mated with males bred to reproduce later in life—or she simply noticed that, the more she mated with other weevils, the more energized she felt. And as weevils are not monogamous, she mated a lot. Soon, Mavis started cluing-in her less observant sisters to these dynamics and became the leader of the weevil feminist movement. She set a new longevity record by living to the ripe old age of twenty-one days, outliving Marvin by more than sixty hours.
Mavis’ dedication and lust showed the citizens of Enterprise and surrounding Coffee County that they needed to diversify their crops. It wasn’t long before they became the country’s largest producer of peanuts and, later, peanut oil. In 1919, as a tribute to her leadership and appetite, the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected a statue in Mavis’ honor in the middle of town.
Note: There really is a town in southern Alabama called Enterprise, and it does have a monument to the boll weevil. Also, Swedish evolutionary biologists really did discover that female weevils live longer when mated with males bred to reproduce later in life.
Architect Larry and his fellow architect wife Caroline live in an historic preservation home in Newton and, together, lead BOLLI courses on architecture. Larry has been an active participant in and leader of the Writers Guild special interest group as well as serving on the BOLLI Journal Committee.