do fleas have feelings?

Circa 2003

I like to drink Welch’s 100% grape juice out of a fancy glass and pretend it’s wine. I don’t like wine, but I like the idea of drinking it very much. And I like fancy glasses.

Remember the bubblegum cigarettes that made the sugar smoke puffs? (not the lame crumbly-sugar stick kind with the red food-colored tip.) I wish I had access to Welch’s 100% grape juice and fancy glasses when I was stomping around in the costumes I made from Charlie Brown sheets and whatnot from Memaw’s linen closet, smoking my “cigarettes” and bossing around the stuffed animals and neighborhood kids.  Talk about street cred.

My Memaw always gave us those translucent plastic mugs shaped like the Kool-Aid man (10 proofs of purchase!)  Really made you long for/appreciate the graduation to the fast-food glasses with Smurfs and/or Hamburglers on them.  Did I mention Memaw also used to drink wine in the evenings? She drank it out of a coffee cup (with two cubes of ice) – in the beginning, because I think she didn’t want us to know what was up.  I figured out what was up the first time I snuck a sip while she was in the bathroom, and probably that’s why I don’t like wine.

I wonder what happened to candy cigarettes?  Guess somebody decided kids might get the wrong idea, although I note that Big League Chew is still available.  Hey, I wonder what sorta good ideas kids get from dressing like whores/thugs while sucking on “baby bottle pops”? Pretty is as pretty does, but when I was a kid, it was all so innocent.  Cigarettes used to be cool and fun.  Now they’re just all about killing people.  

Sometimes when I wake up it seems like a miracle. I like to lay there for a little while and be glad, because who knows why I got to wake up when other people didn’t? And when I look over and see my little mean Sam sleeping beside me, I am even more glad, because I know her sneaking-into-bed-with-me nights are numbered, and I know how much I will miss it, despite the fact that she takes up most of the space and all of the covers.

One time I drowned a flea in a bottle of Aquafina. I was sitting on the porch with (our cat) Liger, and a flea hopped on my foot. There was nothing else I could do. It swam around for a really long time, even when I shook the bottle. Then its associate came along looking for it (I guess) and hopped on my knee, so I reunited them in the bottle. When they started trying to drown each other, I freaked out and threw the bottle in the hedges. It was too much like playing God.  Vengeful, Angry, Genesis God.  Then I gave Liger a flea bath, and he scratched the blood out of my arm. I guess no good or bad deed goes unpunished. Good one, God. 


I couldn’t go to sleep that night for wondering about cat scratch fever and whether fleas had feelings. Do they?  I thought that would make a very good title for a book.  I was also glad I was already an adult so nobody could say I was going to be a serial killer when I grew up for murdering those fleas — if I ever told anyone, that is. And now I have.


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