Our Dirty Little Secret

This might come as a shock but I am not a real stickler for clean. I like things to be clean. I like to be clean. But it’s not the driving force in my life. That may be too personal but bear with me- I think this is a funny story. A month or so ago, after a great dinner made by my friend Jess and eaten at our big table on our deck, Jess’s husband Mathew noticed a flea on his shoulder. We all figured it had come from outside or from their dog so no big deal. They went home, checked the dog. We decided to wear more bug spray when we ate outside. Case closed? Not at all.

I woke up a few days later with huge red welts on my feet. I thought they were from being outside so I put anti-itch stuff on them and went about my day. Then the welts kept showing up and continued to get larger. Finally, someone asked, do you have fleas and are you allergic to fleas? Yes, I replied, outside and I’ve been gardening- should wear shoes not flip flops to do that. And yes, I think all people are allergic to fleas because they are gross. But that question made me curious. So I started researching fleas and flea bites online- something I do well and too often. Turns out you can be seriously allergic to flea saliva (eww) and I am one of those people. And, if you wear white socks around your house when you have fleas, you will see them jump and land on your white socks (double eww). So our 75 year old house had fleas. The day I discovered this, we were having friends over for dinner. Josh got home around 5 and found me wearing white pillowcases over my feet, attractively knotted at my knee, and vacuuming everything in sight. And when I could catch a flea, I would run to the bathroom and drown it in the sink. He tried to get me to stop cleaning at which point, tears came to my eyes and I asked my sweet husband, “Am I a dirty person?” Images of Pigpen from Charlie Brown ran through my mind. Were fleas just surrounding me like the cloud of dirt that surrounded him? As our friends arrived, I was jumping into the shower upstairs to ensure no fleas were on ME and as we ate, I had to explain that I had just gotten really excited about cleaning. It was too embarrassing to say we had fleas. I mean, cats and dogs and rodents have fleas. Not people.

The next morning, after despairing to my friends at work about the fleas- I finally had to tell someone. It felt like I was revealing a big secret. It took me awhile to get it out. I even showed them the welts and they all audibly gasped. That was when I knew it was not normal. So we called the exterminator who arrived on Friday. When I opened the door, you would have thought Clark Kent himself was on my doorstep . Granted, he was just a toothless exterminator but in my eyes, he was my rescuer. He talked to me about tomatoes and how he had planted one on a former burial site and it grew 74 feet. And you know what? I listened because this man was about to save us. And he did. The fleas are gone, we know how to prevent them and they shouldn’t come back ever.

This story does not relate to much that I usually write about but I thought your Thursday might be brightened by the image of Pigpen wearing pillowcases as boots frantically vacuuming the mattress and occasionally rushing to the bathroom to drown a flea. It certainly brightens mine (but only since the fleas are gone).



6 thoughts on “Our Dirty Little Secret

  1. Jane,
    I feel for you so much! We had a flea problem the first spring/summer in our house. They are so tricky to get rid of because of the 2-3 week cycle from egg to adult (and it takes a different treatment to kill each stage). I have heard that putting nematodes in the yard will help prevent them. Don’t worry, it is a common problem in the south. Good luck and hope that you and Josh can stay flea free!

  2. Yeah fleas are ridiculous and so not cool. My dad had them once at our house—and he is a neat freak! There is no shame in getting fleas, even though it probably felt like the world was gonna end. I’m glad you all got rid of them. And I gotta admit, I totally chuckled at the pillowcase part. Such a funny visual! 🙂

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