Fleas Release Me

Call it life’s apostrophe.  Or in my case, life’s apostro-flea.  That’s right, the little buggers once thought to be the burden only of fur-bearing animals have been making certain that I am not living alone.

They lept into my landscape this summer, as they have for lots of people.  Pest control folks say a long, warm summer for us made it possible. Score one more for global warming, I guess.  The weather helped to incubate more flea eggs.  Turned sunny-side up, they hatched in lawns, carpets, upholstery–any possible safe-haven.

The trouble is that you can feel them, but you cannot see them.  Feel me?  And if you are lucky enough to catch one, it won’t be for long.  They leap seven inches at a time and live off the lifeblood of a family and give nothing in return–a virtual welfare check.

When I was young, fleas were fun.  I would spend hours with my cat as I hunted them.  Mine was a special childhood.  But for years, I didn’t have a problem.  For one thing, fleas don’t like the cold.  They hate Maine winters.  Humboldt is another story, a virtual pest haven.

I first noticed them around Labor Day.  My cat, Amadeus, was scratching excessively, especially near his head.  For some reason, fleas like to get into your head, much as relatives who won’t go away.

Mom used to say that “this too shall pass.”  So I thought that they too would move along.  But, no.  I thought of distracting myself by watching television.  Hours of Obama-care debates later, I chose to think again about the fleas.  My life became a “One Flea Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I incorporated my struggle into my Spanish lessons,  In Spanish, a flea is a “pulga,” and the verb for “jump” is “saltar.”  I could literally “flea” to Latin America.

I have often been warned about revealing family secrets.  And so I learned my lesson.  People stopped coming over, and if they did, they didn’t stay long.  Too bad, too, because I had so much to say.  But then came the last leap.  My Spanish teacher said I couldn’t come over until the fleas were gone.  I had brought them to her house with me.

Of course I understand.  Who wants their house to become a flea circus like mine?

Of course there are home remedies.  Washing and drying blankets, sheets and bedspreads is one.  Another is placing pans of soapy water under reading lights at night.  Attracted to the light, the fleas will land and drown in their own suds.  Or in my house, they’ll lie in their bathtub and read.

Things are better now.  I have treated my cat, Amadeus.  I have also had a pest control company spray the house twice.  Next is a temporary restraining order.

I have also learned that people get tired of hearing about your problems, especially if they can become their problems too.  When my friends would ask “How about your flea problem these days?” they are really asking about their own safety.  Even hemorrhoids are a better topic because not everybody gets them.

So I have learned my lesson from the lowliest of creatures.  Keep your personal problems on the down-low unless you are itching for attention.  But get yourself a good attorney.

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