Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Tonight Slag finally produced the batch of cathead biscuits that he's been teasing L and me with for a couple of weeks. The biscuits were accompanied by fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy. I think there must have been a broccoli garnish too, because I distinctly remember there being something green on the plate. We stuffed ourselves beyond all reason. Afterwards, we laid around on the furniture like walrus, grunting intermittently and sometimes unsuccessfully attempting to roll over.

Slag and L had scarfed a wee bit more than I did, so they only had the strength to press buttons on the TV remote (or so they said), which left me to jump up and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters every time the doorbell rang. Thanks guys. This year I noticed there were several "homeless person" costumes, most of which consisted of a ratty T-Shirt, ripped jeans, and a cardboard sign that said something cute like "Will trick-or-treat for candy" or "Down on my luck. Any candy will help." I'll give them points for creativity, but there was also a distinct lack of effort that I don't think should be encouraged.

We were also visited by a couple of boys (men?) who towered over me and and asked for candy with voices lower than Barry White's. It seems to me that once a person starts to shave, it's time to stop with the trick-or-treating. Just my opinion....

Anyway, I'm still digesting. Don't have the energy to write any more, but damn that man can fry some chicken. I am a lucky woman.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


A warning to the men folk...there is talk of girly things ahead...

Yesterday morning I went to see my doctor for my annual checkup. There’s just nothing like a pap smear to start the day out right, is there? While I was there she noticed that I was due for a tetanus shot and also asked me if I wanted a flu shot while we were at it. Sure! Give me everything. Seems like the efficient thing to do. So I got a tetanus shot in one arm and a flu shot in the other. Today, my arms are virtually incapacitated. I am unable to lift them more than a few inches without pain. Guess the Nordic Track will have to wait. Whine. Ouch.

Then yesterday afternoon, on the way home from work, I decided to run a couple of errands, one in particular. I’d noticed the contents of my underwear drawer were getting a little ratty. It was time to make that every-three-years underwear shopping trip. Oh, this wouldn’t be a bra shopping trip. For those, I have to prepare myself for in advance, usually with a mild sedative taken with a glass of cheap, red wine. Shopping for bras is second only to shopping for bathing suits in annoyance and frustration and I wasn’t up for that. The underwear is a little simpler. I just stop by the local Victoria’s Secret and stock up. I know exactly what I need there, so I don’t have to try anything on or talk to any sales ladies. I can just get what I want and go.

When most people hear Victoria’s Secret, they immediately think of expensive lingerie or lacey butt floss. However, VS does carry plain, ordinary panties too. You just have to look for them in the far recesses of the store, behind all the lace and hot pink spandex and things that I would need an instruction manual to don properly. The stuff I want isn’t displayed under spotlights in the front window on little pink padded hangers with bows. No, I end up in the back, digging through piles of pink and off-white cotton laid out on a table under a sign that says “5 for $25.” I am not their target consumer.

The real high point of underwear shopping for me is people-watching, or more specifically, men-watching. A man is not comfortable in Victoria’s Secret. He is not in his natural habitat and he is nervous. If he’s alone, he usually doesn’t know what he’s looking for and he doesn’t want to ask, so he ends up studying the label on a garter belt for twenty minutes while trying to muster the courage to take something up to checkout counter and buy it. If he’s with his woman, he’s afraid to look closely at anything for fear of being accused of leering, so he plays with his cell phone or examines his fingernails at length. He wants to go home.

This trip, as I was standing in line to check out, the guy two places behind me got a call on his cell phone. At one point he stammered, “Yeah, I’m at the…um…um…lingerie store.”

Whereupon both I and the lady behind me turned around and giggled while he smiled weakly back at us. Not sure why he was in line, he didn’t have any merchandise. Probably there to get a gift certificate. Dude, you can get those on-line and totally avoid having to tell your buddy that you’re in the “um…lingerie store.”

Anyway, after everything was said and done, I walked out with 13 pairs of panties, carefully folded, wrapped in pink tissue paper and gently placed into a cute little pink bag. The total weight of my purchase couldn’t have been more than 8 ounces. Total price? $87. Ouch again. But it’s OK. I’m set for another three years.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Frankenstein's Nordic Track

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently ordered and received a new Nordic Track. Here’s what one looks like, in case you haven’t ever seen one.

It’s my primary means of exercise when it’s too hot to run. Around here, that’s April through October (by my standards). It also fills in when the weather is too icky to venture outside. I will run in the cold, I will run in the rain, but I will not run in the cold rain. Nor when the average wind speed is greater than 10 mph. Nor when several other specific atmospheric conditions occur, but I think I’ll stop here. You get the idea.

I purchased my first one about 8 years ago. It served me well, but it has been shedding odd bits of rubber and chunks of metal for some time. They do sell “overhaul” kits and I thought about doing that, but Slag talked me into just getting a new one.

So I ordered a new one a couple of months ago. Though the web site had said it was “in stock,” I promptly got email saying it was back-ordered and scheduled to arrive while we were to be in Indiana. Which it did, naturally. We got home to find the box wedged into our small porch, hanging out over the steps a little. We dragged it inside and opened it up just inside the front door. The box was too big and heavy to move any further.

The old Nordic Track was really easy to assemble and use. I screwed/bolted the various pieces together as explained in the instructions and it just worked. The only issue was learning how to ride the thing without breaking a leg or doing a face plant into the floor. That took a while because I’m not very coordinated, but I did finally master it.

The new Nordic Track screwed together exactly as the old one did. No problem, step one complete and now on to step two, get on the machine and initiate workout. This is where the problems started. To avoid boring you with the details, I’ll just say that some moving parts didn’t move properly, and other non-moving parts actually moved.

We called customer service and they recommended we just send the whole thing back and have another one sent out. However, to do that we needed to call the “returns” number, which is a separate from “customer service.” Oh, and the “returns” people only work M-F 8-5, and it was now 5:14pm, so no one would be available to take our call until the next day.

By the time we figured all this out, I was seriously pissed off. This was not an LL Bean sweater that I could toss into a little envelope and sent back for a refund. This was a huge, heavy piece of equipment that arrived in about 20 pieces that were individually packed in small boxes inside the big box. I assumed whoever would be coming to take the old one away was going to expect it to be disassembled and put back into its various boxes. I wasn’t even sure we could figure out how to do that. Plus there was no guarantee that another machine wouldn’t have the same problems, was there?

Then Slag had an idea. He suggested we try to taking some pieces off the old machine and putting them on the new one.

Now that was an excellent idea. Couldn’t hurt to try, could it? We had an old Nordic Track with all the moving parts worn out, and we had a new Nordic Track with non-moving parts that wouldn’t stay put. Surely, out of these we could build one functional Nordic Track

And so began our reenactment of “Young Frankenstein.” We quickly transformed the extra bedroom into a mad scientist’s laboratory. Slag took the role of Dr. Frankenstein, due to his superior construction skills and more experience being in charge. I played Marty Feldman’s Igor, hunched over with an eye bugged out, dragging one foot, answering all of Slag’s demands with a raspy “Yes, Master.” The pair of Nordic Tracks took the part of “Monster,” but really didn’t put a lot of heart into the role and gave sub-standard performances until the very end of the evening.

It was a busy night. Slag worked his magic with only the aid of the “exploded diagram” parts list on the back page of the user’s manual. Both machines were dismembered and disemboweled. I was thrice sent to retrieve needed tools and supplies from the dark recesses of the garage and that drawer in the kitchen where we keep the scotch tape and extra batteries. I also ventured out to excavate discarded hardware from a freshly filled dumpster behind the local Harbor Freight, while the wind howled and lightning ominously backlit the leafless trees planted in the parking lot landscaping. We didn’t need the hardware, but some sort of excavation was required if we were going to do an authentic reenactment. As Igor, it was my job to do it. I took the role very seriously.

Finally, after hours of toil, Slag stood over the twitching body of a whole and complete Nordic Track, his fists raised in the air, and manically bellowed “IT’S ALLLIIIIIIIVE!” while thunder clapped ominously in the distance. I cautiously approached the mutant machine and gave it a spin. It worked perfectly! Woohoo!

Looks like I’ve got myself a working Nordic Track now. The extra bedroom still looks like hell though. If anyone has any use for the remnants of a mad scientist’s laboratory or some worn out Nordic Track parts, just let me know.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Things I Hate, Part 6

"Compact Only" parking spaces

It occurs to me that this really isn’t an unusual thing to hate. Hating “Compact Only” parking spaces is like hating cancer or income taxes. Nobody likes them. So this whole post is now feeling a little gratuitous to me. Whatever. The rant is written and so it must be posted.

Those miniature parking spaces are the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Whose bright idea were they?? Nobody wants to park in them. Nobody, not even people who drive compact cars. When I had a compact car, I avoided them like the plague. Even when used correctly, those spaces increase the chance that your car is going to suffer some sort of body damage while you’re shopping by about 1100%.

Invariably, though, somebody parks their Ford Behemoth Extended Cab XL Dualie in a “compact only” space, technically between the two white lines, but leaving only about 1/8 inch between the Behemoth and the white line, and thus rendering the spaces on either side unusable by anyone except Barbie and Ken in the Barbie Cool Convertible™. This starts a chain reaction of parking irregularities. Other vehicles of varying sizes and shapes randomly fill in the remaining parking spaces. Some people try to use the white lines as a reference. Others ignore the lines and just park a reasonable distance from the car in the next space. Add a couple of hours of normal comings and goings at your average shopping center and the result is a jumble of cars parked in such a manner that the average amount of space taken by each one is way more than one normal-sized space. When all is said and done, more parking would be available if they just made all the spaces normal-sized.

If you’re building a shopping center and the rules say you have to have x number of parking spaces, then you should have x number of real, usable spaces. Painting the lines closer together isn’t fooling me or anyone else with a couple of brain cells to rub together. Why is it fooling the people writing the parking requirements regulations?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Couple of Announcements

1. You may have noticed that I now refer to my significant other as "Slag" instead of the earlier "DC." Slag and DC are in fact the same person. Personally, since I started my blog before he started his, I'm thinking that the polite thing would be for him to use the name I chose, if only to prevent confusion on the part of the reader. Unfortunately, I have been unable to bend him to my will. So, for the sake of consistency, henceforth he will be known only as "Slag."

2. Slag and I visited the local Sam's Warehouse yesterday and purchased our Halloween candy in bulk. This means there are, at this very moment, at least ten pounds of chocolate in this house. I don't have to tell you what a dangerous situation this is. I could easily overdose if left unsupervised for any length of time. If I should disappear for a few days, keep in mind that Slag has probably checked me into rehab. I'll be back just as soon as I'm released from the halfway house.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wine and Refinement

Would it be wrong to have wine for dinner? I very nearly did last night. My blood sugar had plummeted, and I had poured and swilled a big glass before Slag picked me up off the couch and whisked me out to meet L for Mexican food. I discovered that Mexican food is even better with a glass of cheap, red wine as an appetizer.

I’m usually not much of a wine drinker, but I love the stuff I was drinking last night. I scored a bottle of it while we were in Indiana last weekend. It’s produced by a winery there and so is impossible to get in Texas. I wrapped the bottle in about fifteen yards of bubble wrap, stuck it in my suitcase, and hoped for the best. Thankfully, it arrived intact.

This wine is named “Soft Red Wine,” which didn’t seem strange until I thought about it for a second. Most wine is named after the grape it’s made from, right? Like Merlot? Pinot Noir? OK, I guess Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill is an exception, but it at least has “strawberry” in the name. So, I looked more closely at the label and, in very small print on the back, it says that this wine is made from Concorde grapes.

Concorde grapes?

And then I burst out laughing. It’s Welch’s Grape Juice on steroids! Give a case or two to someone’s granny and she could make a batch of grape jelly out of it. Well, that explains everything, doesn’t it? Don’t let anyone tell you that I don’t have a refined palate. Because I don’t.

Next time we’re in a fancy restaurant, I’m planning on ordering a glass of their “finest Concorde,” just to see the response I get. The tip will be double for any waitperson who can tactfully explain my mistake without rolling his/her eyes out of their sockets.

P.S. Turns out, “Soft Red Wine” is the winery’s best-selling wine, so I guess my tastes are a little more mainstream than I thought.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What She Said! (Or, Things I Hate, Part 5)

Bill O'Reilly, you've gone and done it. You've gotten yourself added to the list of things that I hate. I'm sure you're shaking in your boots.

I don't have anything to add to what Cecily has said over at And I Wasted All That Birth Control, other than to agree with her completely. She's been through more than most of us can possibly imagine. Nobody who has faced those kinds of decisions deserves to have to listen to you spewing garbage about things you know nothing about.

Bill, I'm going to tell you the same thing that I told Tom. MEDICINE IS NOT YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE. So shut up about it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Few Travel Notes

We’ve made it back from Indiana safe and sound. The weather there was fabulous, lows in the 30’s, highs in the 50’s. You know, normal October weather. We wore long sleeves AND jackets. The furnace actually ran. I don’t think I broke into a sweat even once. It was chilly! Oh, it was glorious. Slag survived the temperature drop. He did not, in fact, develop a case of frostbite while we were there, no matter how vehemently he claims that he did. I’ve seen his fingers and toes and they are not black. But that’s all over now. We’re back to the land where the daytime temperatures are in the 90’s, and I’m back to whining about it.

We had a great visit with two of my four parents, and also got to see my brother, sister-in-law and my adorable niece and nephew. They even drew us pictures that we got to keep (the niece and nephew, not the parents).

We slipped out for a nice long lunch with my brother and sister-in-law while the grandparents watched the kids. It was great to spend some time with just the two of them, to yak and really catch up. We don’t get to do that very often, because our visits are usually short. Lunch was a yummy, home-cooked, Indiana-style-cuisine buffet. They even had sweet iced-tea! Yay! Slag thinks he saw boiled pork chops on the buffet. I’m not convinced they were actually cooked in water, but they were certainly served in water, or something resembling water. Nobody at the table tried them, so I guess it will remain a mystery. However, I’d like to say here that boiled meat is not the typical fare in my homeland, whether or not the meat on the buffet was boiled, and no matter what Slag says.

The Cholula Sauce arrived intact, and Slag put it to good use. He ended up accidentally leaving the bottle on the table in a little local restaurant where we had breakfast the last day we were there. He had doused his eggs with it. Oh well, maybe someone else will be brave and try it. Then, I’m sure, an ambulance will be summoned so the tastee can be rushed to the hospital and treated for capsaicin burns.

My parents knew just about everyone in that restaurant. It’s a REALLY small town (pop. ~3500 and the largest town in the county). I’ve been gone long enough that I didn’t recognize many of the people they chatted with. But then, just as we were paying the bill, my third-grade teacher and my fourth-grade social studies teacher, Miss McCune (then) and Mr. Wheeler, walk in. They’re married to each other now, so I guess it’s now Mrs. Wheeler and Mr. Wheeler. They did look familiar after my parents introduced them, but it’s amazing what 30 years can do to a person. I guess I may have changed a bit too. They seemed to remember me, which is truly amazing. Seems like after 30 years the hordes of eight and nine-year-olds would start to blur.

My new NordicTrack was on the front porch in a big box when we arrived home. As if on cue, the old one promptly fell apart last night, as I was using it one last time. First the arm cable broke. I tied it back together and continued on. Then one of the rollers started making this god-awful, eardrum-exploding noise about every third step. Looks like the new one arrived just in time. Now all we have to do is get it upstairs and assembled without hurting anyone’s back. Jeez those things are heavy.

That’s about it. Nothing too exciting, but very pleasant. Now it’s back to the daily grind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We're Off!

We leave early in the morning for lands north. I'm taking DC north of the Mason-Dixon Line to visit my family. Well, only about 50 miles north of it, but north nonetheless. It will be our first plane trip since the "no styling gel or hand lotion" rules went into effect. We always pack a bottle of Cholula Sauce so DC can season his meals while we're there. I guess the sauce will have to go in our checked luggage this time. Please Zeus, let the bottle stay intact. It would definitely put a damper on things if I arrived with hot sauce all over my Underoos.

The current temperature there is well below the minimum 75 degrees that DC requires for comfort. If you listen closely, you can already hear him squealing in protest. To me, it will be sweet relief.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I was accosted in my driveway by a Jehovah’s Witness yesterday. She was walking up the driveway when I arrived home and pulled in. I gave her every chance to notice how busy I was in my car and leave, while I pretended to be busy with stuff in my car. But no, she waited for me. So I finally resigned myself to my fate and got out. Sigh.

She had come to spread the word about how evolution is completely impossible and all these “leading scientists” were coming out against it. Apparently, “evolutionists” are destroying our children’s belief in god by misleading them with lies presented as “science.” She had a hard time remembering how to pronounce all the scientific words that she was trying to use to convince me, but that didn’t slow her down. I think she talked for five minutes straight without stopping to breathe. I was afraid she was going to faint right there on my driveway and then sue me, but no, she had had plenty of practice. She simultaneously flipped through this slick pamphlet and showed me pictures that were supposed to support her various points. That presentation strategy didn’t give me much of a chance to interrupt and tell her how busy busy busy I was. I think that might have been the plan. Too bad my mother was so strict about not interrupting, or I might have escaped.

Then she wanted to know what I thought the evolution crisis that is currently threatening our way of life. I told her a little about how evolution is pretty much established fact, how it’s the reason you need a flu shot every year and not just once, and it’s why there are now “super-bugs” that are resistant to all the antibiotics we have. I ended with a blurb about how I don’t understand why people think evolution is incompatible believing in god and really, aren’t there better things to do with our time? She nodded and appeared attentive while I talked, but I don’t think she actually heard anything, because her subsequent responses had nothing to do with what I said. There didn’t appear to be a whole lot of synaptic activity going on in her head.

She did leave me with some fascinating scientific literature though. In its 20 short little pages, the pamphlet successfully refutes the current state of scientific knowledge concerning geology, archeology, anthropology and a couple of other ologies that I’m probably leaving out. Quite a feat, don’t you think? It repeatedly cites this book called “Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong.” I’ve never heard of this book, but I’m betting it was written by another “leading scientist” and also refutes a lot things that “evolutionists” think they know.

Too bad I wasn’t two minutes later coming home. That would have allowed her to actually ring the doorbell and meet with DC instead of me. Talking to god peddlers is just the highlight of DC’s day. He briefly listens to their sales pitch and then tells them how wonderful Zeus is. Sometimes he can make them laugh. If there’s more than one, he can usually get the subordinate to laugh. Then the subordinate gets a glare from the one in charge. Hilarity ensues.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I sit here now, clutching the last few fragments of my sanity. There are just a few tiny shards of it left, and they’re cutting into the palm of my hand. If I insist on keeping them, I’m sure to eventually end up in the emergency room for some stitches and a tetanus shot. If I toss them out, well, I won’t have any sanity left and then what will I do? It’s quite a dilemma.

And the cause of my shattered sanity? Work has been bad for the last couple of weeks. Bad. A bunch of big, ugly things are all happening at the same time (I won’t even try to explain any of the details). I reached my tipping point on Thursday afternoon and cried a little in frustration, but did manage to stay functional. The big release deadline was Friday at 10am. That was the magic hour when the software image had to be shipped off to the people who burn the CDs. I worked until 10:30pm Thursday night and then got up at 5am Friday morning to handle the thousand little remaining details. Everything came together. I even jumped through the five extra hoops that have been added on to the end of our process since the last release. By 9am all that was left were the final test results and then the whole software product would get shipped out the door and we’d be done.

Shortly after 9am I sent out an email note to the four people who would have to rubber stamp the final release, explaining that everything was ready and mentioning the few changes they would see in the approval process since the last time we did this. I ended with a little joke, where I threatened to take my own life if the final tests failed, because that would mean that I would have to redo everything that I had just described. We all knew that the chances of the tests failing were miniscule, but I thought it was funny to add a bit of levity at the end of all the drama. These were all people I have known, worked with, and joked with for years. I knew they all had a sense of humor, and I assumed none of them had a corn cob up their butt. Plus, I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

The final tests did pass, the release was sent out, and everything was done, correctly and on time, by 10am Friday morning, just like it was supposed to be.

Then I got an email response from my boss, one of the four people who received my earlier note announcing that we were ready to go. I was expecting it to say something like “Great!” or “Excellent!” or “Woohoo!” My expectations were fairly low. I certainly didn’t expect any acknowledgement of the fact that I had killed myself for the last week, working around several fuck-ups by other people and coping with a brand new, buggy, temporal black-hole of a release tool. I wasn’t even expecting to be tossed a small bone like “Good job!” or “I appreciate it!” or “Thanks!” Hell, even complete silence wouldn’t have been a huge surprise, and wouldn’t have caused me any distress.

It turned out, however, that my expectations were still a little too high. There were no good feelings or kind thoughts or, god forbid, words of praise, waiting for me in my Inbox. Instead, the note was a slight scolding for my little joke, and a request that I not do that again.


I sat there stupidly for a few seconds, with my mouth hanging open, completely stunned. Then I promptly burst into tears. Right there at my desk, at work. Great, very professional. I. Could. Not. Stop. I shut my office door and sat there sniveling for a good ten minutes, while at the same time wondering if I could possibly be any more pathetic. There I was in all my glory, a grown, educated, professional woman, crying because her boss hurt her feelings. I did not want to be that woman, but clearly I was.

I think the heart of the problem is that nobody else in my group has a clue what my job involves, my boss least of all. He has no idea of all the crap I deal with on a daily basis to keep my little universe moving in the right direction. These are things that he never hears about. He doesn’t have to worry about my stuff because it always just works. And I know that’s how things should be. If I do my job right, nobody has to know. But it also means that nobody knows, or cares, when I perform heroics. Nobody knew that I spent Thursday night re-entering all my release data after all the data I entered Monday afternoon was overwritten by another team who thought they knew what they were doing, but were, in fact, mistaken. Nobody knows about all the screw-ups I fix at the end of every project when everyone tries to slip in “just one little change” at the last minute, and never stops to think how it might affect the big picture. Nobody knows about the deals I negotiate with other teams so we came get our software published at the right time in the right place, or the pestering I do, or the groveling. I’m sure there are people out there in the company who cringe when they see my name on their caller ID screen, because they know I’m calling to nag them about something.

So, as is normally the case at the end of a project, I did plenty of heroics last week, most of them completely invisible to anyone above me in the management chain. But that’s fine. I’ve always hated over-enthusiastic, empty praise. I wasn’t expecting a cake or a medal or a parade. Being ignored would have been just fine. I’m used to that. But I got even less than being ignored. I got bitched at for making a joke. I expected appreciation and I got a scolding. Unfortunately, the drop from the cliff of appreciation down into the chasm of a scolding was just too far for me to land on my feet. My feet could not find purchase on the rocky ground at the bottom after such a speedy descent, and I landed on my ass instead. Hence, the “office crying.”

So what now? What can I do? What is within my control? Only my expectations, I think. Expectations are, after all, the mother of disappointment and the grandmother of crying at your desk. In the past, I have expected small bits of gratitude now and then, scattered against a background of dead silence. Clearly, that is not a realistic expectation. I’m not going to get that. As far as I can see, the only way I can fix this problem is to lower my expectations. From now on, the most realistic expectation is that my accomplishments will be ignored. The ledge of being ignored is a lot closer to the bottom of the chasm. From the ledge, I think I’ll be able to handle the occasional chastisement without crying.

Expectations have now been lowered. Carry on.

Now, what about these fragments of sanity I have here? I think I’ll stick them in that zip-lock baggie where I keep the few remaining crumbs of my ambition and some dust left over from when my ideals dried up and blew away. Never know, I might need them again someday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Raccoons, Part 2

So where were we? Right, the raccoon family had just vacated our chimney, the chimney cap was replaced and all was right with the world.

Shortly after the raccoons left I started noticing little itchy red bumps on my person. They looked and felt distinctly like insect bites, but I couldn’t assign a culprit. They weren’t mosquito bites. The bites were too little. Plus mosquitoes generally go for the ankles or the back of the arms, or some other area that’s not in view (though I did once wake up with a mosquito bite squarely in the center of my forehead). Spider bites are usually just one big ugly red spot the size of a half-dollar. It couldn’t be fire ants because I would have felt them biting me.

DC wasn’t having any red bump issues. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Nobody has insect issues when I’m around. Insects adore me. Apparently, I’m a Filet Mignon in a world of hamburgers. I am delicious. Everyone else in the vicinity gets ignored. I could probably rent myself out for outdoor wedding receptions and cocktail parties. Hmm, must keep that in mind in case the corporate career ever becomes too big of a drag….

Anyway, a few days after the first bites appeared, I was sitting on the living room floor, stretching a little after a run, and I noticed this little black speck on my leg. I picked it up between my thumb and forefinger and when I opened my fingers to get a look at it, it jumped. JUMPED. Aaah! I knew what that was! There’s only one thing that jumps like that. That was a flea! A mother#$&%$#*ing FLEA!

The expletives that came out of my mouth at that moment aren’t fit to repeat. Let’s just say they were numerous and enthusiastic.

A short consultation with DC confirmed that we were infested. But how? HOW?? We don’t have pets of any kind. So it’s upstairs to the computer and a quick googling. I quickly found a page with this advice: “If you have fleas but you don’t have pets, you have some sort of wildlife living in your house. The usual culprits are squirrels or raccoons.”

Squirrels or ….



Everything became clear. Yes, the raccoons were gone. The fleas they had left behind were now starving for blood and were dining on the next best thing: me.

I went completely ape-shit. The live-and-let-live, baby-raccoon-adoring person I had been five minutes earlier was gone. She was replaced by a murderous, blood-thirsty maniac. In the lulls between the spells of cursing, I started screeching at DC from the other side of the house, “We’re going to Self-Chem RIGHT NOW! There are %&$ing FLEAS in our house! $*&%$#@!! KILL EVERYTHING!!”

We immediately departed for Self-Chem while I continued to curse. On the way DC patted my hand as if to assure me that I had his full support, but I know he was thinking that I was overreacting just a little. Well, he wasn’t the one with flea bites all over his body, now was he?

When we got there, DC politely started to ask the clerk if they had anything to take care of fleas. I interrupted and elbowed my way in front of him to the counter where I grabbed the clerk by one ear and his “Hi, my name is Steve” name tag and pulled him within inches of my fuming red face.

“We have some fleas that have to be killed right now. RIGHT NOW! Do you have any napalm? Perhaps a small thermonuclear device?? They MUST DIE!!”

The clerk immediately produced some noxious chemical that he assured us would send those little fuckers into their death throes. As we were leaving I gave him one final look over my shoulder that silently said, “If this doesn’t work I’m coming back to get you.” He locked the door as soon as we were on the sidewalk. Admittedly it was near closing time, but I think he was jumping the gun. Coward.

As soon as we made it back to the house, DC suited up in his best protective gear and respirator and sprayed the interior of the house with the aforementioned noxious chemical. Then we left for the evening.

That was the last we ever heard or saw of the fleas. No new bites have since appeared on my pale flesh. The noxious chemical hasn’t caused us or any of our visitors to lose all our hair or grow any extra fingers. The clerk at Self-Chem is uninjured. Everything is fine.