Fleeing From Fleas: What I did on my summer vacation in 1986


Shannon O'Donnell

Since we’ve had a bit of a bug and summer vacation theme going on our breakfast blog lately, I thought I’d pull one last insect story out of my arsenal: the one about the time I ran for my life from a flea-infested home.

The year was 1986, and I had agreed to watch a friend’s home for a few weeks while they were away… you know, get the mail, feed the cats and fish. Your basic-house-sitting duties. I had also committed to taking on this gal’s paper route, in turn getting my hot-little-junior-high-hands on her ‘Honda Spree’ moped for my trouble!

So on a hot summer’s afternoon (likely about 76 degrees, which in Seattle is considered a HOT summer’s day, thank you), my buddy Sarah and I, beridden with boredom, decided to take the Spree out for a spin. Feeling charitable and probably a bit guilty over using the motorcycle for non-paper-route-related transportation, I swung by the home to tend to the animals. I vividly remember standing in the little sister’s room, sprinkling fish food into the bowl, and glancing toward her stuffed-animal-strewn bed. The animals seemed to be MOVING. Getting a bit closer, it became clear that the animals were covered with BUGS. Small, creepy, crawly brown FLEAS, to be exact.

Screaming in horror, Sarah and I booked down the stairs and into the living room, where the severity of our problem became clear. Against our pale northwest complexions, dozens of dark dots stood out like stars in a Montana sky. “Sarah, they’re all over your legs!” “They’re all over yours, too!”

Still screaming, we ran from the house, flailing and discarding clothing, trying to pry the parasites loose. Oh, and did I mention this home was on a world class golf course, right across from the 3rd hole, where a big tournament was going on? And at that very moment, as we were running around hollering and stripping, a huge crowd of people turned to watch this drama unfold? In the panic that ensued, we even hopped on the Spree and rode around in circles, trying to blow the little bloodsuckers off. What our unwitting audience must have been thinking, I’ll never know.

Safely back at my home, Sarah’s fleabites faded into a memory within an hour, but my legs were absolutely covered with bright red, itchy welts that lasted for a week. It was torture!

Twenty years later, fleas will still jump off a perfectly decent dog to get a taste of my flesh. Word must have gotten out in the flea world that I was an easy meal. My family loves having me around, as I’m always the ‘bug-bait’. And even as bad as that bee-sting was (detailed in my previous blog), I’ll take that over a flea infestation any day. Long live Advantage and Frontline!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist


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