The Cost of Things: A Trip to New Orleans That Ends in Fleas
Last week I spent five beautiful days in New Orleans with a dear friend of mine. Unfortunately for me, those days were spent in close proximity to her cat, who was suffering from a bout of fleas at the time. The cat spent my first night scratching whilst she sat atop my suitcase and I slept on what was probably her blanket. She went to the vet the next day and I hoped that the fleas would leave my suitcase, bite her, and die shortly thereafter. But it was to not to be.
I woke up Monday morning with bites on my ankles and dread in my heart. The fleas had not stayed in New Orleans where they belonged, nor perished in the cargo bay of the plane; they had arrived safe and sound in Brooklyn. The following is an account of how much it costs to get rid of fleas you have not yet seen with the naked eye but are pretty sure have hitched a ride home with you from Louisiana.
1) A questionable sick day (1 of 12 you get a year): You’ve just taken three days off of work but this is technically a medical emergency of sorts, right? You send a few work emails during the day to pretend that you’re “working from home” in between treks to the laundromat.
2) $12.75 in quarters + $4.00 for new detergent: You launder all the clothes you took to New Orleans, plus all the clothes that spent a night on your bed the night you came home from vacation, plus your sheets and comforter (washed today for the first time), plus all the clothes in your laundry basket because what the hell you might as well wash them anyways.
3) Much emotional stress: Panic sets in upon realizing you don’t know how to clean the sweaters you took on vacation with you, in addition to the sweaters you were too lazy to put away before you left for vacation and are now possibly contaminated from having been thrown in a bag with the New Orleans sweaters in a critical lapse in judgment. The answer you hit upon is to vacuum them and leave them your room when you spray it with the flea poison and hope that does the job.
4) $18.30: very expensive “fogger” spray in a warning-covered box that promises to get rid of all bug infestations bought on recommendation from the hardware store owner, in addition to a much more reasonably priced squeeze bottle of Boric Acid. You cover the suitcase and the floor in boric acid but worry you’ve failed to spray enough “fogger” in your room because your fear of breathing it in and burning your lungs momentarily trumps your fear of the fleas.
5) $15.00: a meatball sandwich at a cafe near your house eaten while waiting for the bug spray to kill all of the fleas.
6) $14.00: two beers at the bar of the restaurant on your block drunk after you open the windows in your room but before it is actually safe to be inside. The beer dulls the psychosomatic itching you’ve been feeling all day.
7) Continued emotional stress: that night the stress ratchets up a notch because you still haven’t told one of your roommates (she’s already in a bad mood) that you probably brought fleas back with you from New Orleans but that you’re dealing with it you promise!
8) $33.50: dry cleaning the sweaters that you’ve vacuumed. The vacuuming and bug spray helps justify your hopes that sending the sweaters to the dry cleaners won’t give the cleaners fleas.
Total: approx. $97.50, one sick day, and feeling a constant need to scratch.
Hannah is a grant writer living in Brooklyn. She appreciates pets in other peoples’ houses. Illo by Charrow.