I woke up this morning with some nasty red spots clustered in an unlikely place. I recognized their provenance immediately.
A careful scrutiny of the bedsheets located the culprit ? a flea. We've had a lot of thunderstorms lately, terrifying for the family dog. My tender-hearted wife has allowed him to sleep in the bed with us.
As the ancient saying goes: You lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Toby is supposed to have had some preventative treatment from our vet, but I guess it wasn't 100 percent fleaproof.
I poked the flea with a finger. He did that amazing thing they do: a huge (relative to his size) and perfectly instantaneous jump, just disappearing from sight. I easily located him again, though.
Off to the bathroom for a bar of soap. Wet soap under faucet. Return to bedroom. Locate flea. Zap! ? and there he is stuck in the soap. Back to bathroom faucet, bye-bye flea.
Over breakfast I reflected, not without satisfaction at my own modest advance in life, that knowing the soap trick for dealing with fleas is a sure sign of humble origins.
These teeny creatures, who I suppose have been companions to Homo sap. for untold millenia, have left a teeny trail through Western high culture: at least one good poem, one episode in a play by Goethe, and one fine song Mussorgsky composed using Goethe's text.
(Here's the song in its Russian original if you like. I personally like it very much. The Russian for "flea" is blo-KHA ? hard "l" trending towards an English "w," the "o" close to a short English "a.")
Amateur pest control, inverse snobbery, and slavonic phonology: only on VDARE.com.