Back in October, when Mr. Quake & Mr. Dog left Maine & headed for MN, they forgot to pack up some of Mr. Dog’s friends. In his absence, these friends got hungry. Their children got hungry. They found tasty little ol’ me. They feasted. Oh, how they feasted! The hot pink spots on my legs multiplied, some appeared on my forearms & abdomen. At first I suspected some sort of allergic reaction – new detergent? Then after a run one morning I was stretching on the living room floor and noticed a tiny black thing moving on my ankle. I tried to grab it in my fingers, but it jumped off before I could get hold of it. I was on the phone with Mr. Quake at the time & a few choice 4-letter words were heard clearly from 1400 miles away as I realized what I was dealing with.
As if preparing for a cross-country move was not stressful enough, now I had to do both that & mitigate an infestation of fleas. In the absence of my dog & due to my inability to apply flea-killing treatments to my own skin, I began a battle of epic proportions and highly toxic chemicals. I had neglected to apply Frontline to Mr. Dog with regularity due to the scary warnings on the packaging & the fact that he had never before had a flea attack. But I quickly realized that the risks of the preventative treatment paled in comparison to those inflicted upon me by the massive quantities & varieties of poisons I subsequently had to douse my apartment (and to be on the safe side, car and office space) in over the course of the next few weeks. I spent an hour or more each evening vacuuming, moving furniture & piles of half-packed boxes around to make sure I sucked the life out of every loop of carpeting in the apartment. I vowed never to neglect the Frontline application again, and never to live in a carpeted home again.
My kind neighbors who offered untold moral support throughout the ordeal, sent me this link to Mary McCallum’s The Mighty Flea, which coincidentally, aired on Vermont Public Radio towards the conclusion of my time with the fleas. I still could not bring myself to actually click on the link until today (a solid 6 weeks after leaving the previously infested abode). It is short, sweet, & funny, yet I am glad I gave myself plenty of time & space before listening. I am sure my appreciation for the humor was far greater today than it might have been 6-8 weeks ago. It also made me feel fortunate to have escaped the scene of the massacre. I no longer have to spend my evenings vacuuming, sweating profusely from the effort, worrying that every tickle or itch is a harbinger of the flea minions’ resurgence, beckoning me to start all over with a barrage of chemicals & superhuman vacuuming regimen.
Throughout the experience, in talking with friends & acquaintances, I learned that nearly everyone has their own personal flea story, many of which were far worse than my own. One included thriving colonies beneath a newly-rented apartment’s floor boards that could not be eradicated & forced the couple to move after a month. Another resulted in a case of worms – a fate I myself may run the risk of developing for several years (though I don’t plan to worry about it in the meantime). And of course, as McCallum points out in the aforementioned piece, 14th century fleas helped spread the Bubonic Plague. All things considered, I rather count myself very lucky.