Monday, April 27, 2009

What You Missed

My weekend:
flea circus (Wikipedia)

Ah, hell.

As a digression before actually telling the story, though, I wonder about flea "training," since it has been noted by multiple sources that a primitive kind of training does take place. Do they have motivational posters hanging up in the flea training areas? And what would a motivational poster for fleas look like? Would it be the ubiquitous "Hang in there, baby!" poster with the kitten hanging from a tree, and hanging from the kitten would be a flea?

Back to the story.

Two weeks ago on Saturday, I noticed a little blip of something on my leg. I immediately crushed it with my fabulously powerful, paper-thin arms.

I took a look, and it looked quite a bit like a smashed flea.

Impossible, of course, because we have two cats who never go outside. They can't have fleas, and therefore there can't be fleas roaming around the house. I concluded that the flea was the equivalent of some kind of heroic explorer, an Admiral Perry for his species.

I did mention it to Gloria, but we saw no more.

Last Saturday, I was petting George, our tiger cat who loves everyone except strangers (a term which, for him, encompasses everything except us and children, who he adores for some strange reason). I rubbed under George's chin--and saw a flea. Thus began the flea hunt, with the flea, well, fleeing through George's fur like a dolphin swimming and leaping in an ocean adventure.

"I think we may have fleas," I said to Gloria.

"Fleas? But the cats never go outside!" she said.

"True," I said, "but also true that I've seen two fleas."

"Are you sure they weren't rove ants?" she asked.

"An insulting question," I said. "Rove ants are lame. Fleas are super bad. I can tell the difference."

"Well, it's okay," she said. "Sprout had fleas once or twice, and they're pretty easy to manage. I'm sure it won't be a big deal."

This from a woman who has been absolutely convinced three times in the last year that she had head lice (actual number of head lice: zero, and a special note on her chart at the doctor's office, surely).

So when she says "it won't be a big deal," I can almost see the "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode unfolding in my head. I just start the countdown.

On Sunday, Eli 7.8 and Gloria worked in the yard, then came back inside, and Eli was petting George. He had on long white socks, and I heard him make kind of a disturbed noise. I heard Gloria say "It's okay, honey," but he kept making the sound, so I walked out of my study to see what was up.

He had five dots on his socks. Yes, you know what the dots were.

Gloria took care of the fleas, then took a flea comb and George into the bathroom and closed the door. A few minutes later, she said "Bill? Come in here." I walked in and she said "We have fleas!"

Note: she didn't say "I'm sure it won't be a big deal" again. That was now just a romantic notion from a paperback past.

Gracie had fleas, too.

Gloria and Eli went back into the backyard, and this time, they noticed that fleas were in the yard, too. Lots of them. Good grief!

Note: Gloria didn't say "I'm sure it won't be a big deal" again.

So you may be be thinking "how did these people not realize they had fleas sooner? What kind of disgusting hillbillies are these people?" Well, fleas are pretty sneaky. They land on you, but only for an instant, and they have the lightest touch. Since we were convinced it was impossible to have any fleas in the house, it never even crossed our minds, until we actually started seeing them.

The pest guy came out today (they opened at 7:30--I was on the line at 7:31), and his explanation was that it didn't matter if we had outdoor pets, because squirrels and other non-domesticated animals are covered in them, and it's easy for a yard to get infested under the right conditions. If we go work in the yard, and bring in even a few fleas on our clothing, that's all it takes to start the flea circus rolling.

The cats are on Frontline now (which is an anti-flea medicine). The pest guys come back on Wednesday to treat both the yard and the house. In the meantime, Gloria has compulsively vacuumed the house from top to bottom and washed all the bedding, and I'm scattering tiny vacation brochures on the floor about hot lights, hot times, and an all-you-can-eat pet buffet at the house across the fence.

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