Another Reason I Probably Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Care for Living Things

Today Leta decided that she should be afraid of the vacuum cleaner. She hasn’t ever been afraid of it before, really, but when she saw me rolling it around the corner earlier she got this look on her face that said, “Oh my God, it’s The End of the World on Wheels.” This now makes two members of my family who run (or sit in the case of Leta) shrieking at the site of the vacuum cleaner, the other member being the dog, but the dog… the dog has his reasons.

And here’s where I admit to the Internet just how stupid I am. I know I have admitted my stupidity before, but once you hear about this instance of stupidity you’ll have no doubt as to the magnitude of my stupidity, and you’ll say to yourself, my God, that woman is stupid.

In 2002 several months after we adopted Chuck he became infected with one of the world’s worst cases of fleas. I know that it was one of the world’s worst cases because ANY case of fleas involves actual fleas and even if only one flea were involved it still would have been a FLEA and therefore the worst possible scenario in the universe.

We were living in Los Angeles at the time — had we been living here this never would have happened because fleas can’t live at this elevation, and the only thing a dog can really catch outdoors in Utah is heartworm and a testimony of Jesus Christ — and it was Labor Day. Everything was closed, but that really didn’t matter because the first thing that came to my mind was:

Let’s try to vacuum the fleas off of his body.

In my mind I thought we could just suck each and every flea from his fur and hope that they hadn’t already infected the rest of the apartment. If they had already infected the apartment, well then, I’d just vacuum it as well.

It would be easy. One of us would hold Chuck down while the other took the vacuum hose and suctioned off the fleas. Right now is when you, the Internet, are probably asking yourselves, “You mean there was more than just ONE of you involved in this instance of stupidity?” And this is the part of the story that demonstrates JUST HOW MUCH Jon loves me, that he actually went along with my plan.

You may be thinking, “No, this part of the story just demonstrates how much disdain he had for his dog that he would go ahead and participate in something so ludicrous,” but had you been there to witness just how PANICKED I was and just how much oxygen wasn’t getting to my brain you’d have seen that he was just sacrificing a few moments of sanity to save my life.

Since I was the one who was at home with the dog most of the day I decided that I would be the one to hold him down. My reasoning was that my embrace would be comforting, but I forgot that I was hyperventilating and shaking so vigorously that the pictures on the walls were vibrating. There were FLEAS in my APARTMENT near my UNDERWEAR. I challenge anyone to remain calm in the same situation.

Once I had Chuck in a cradled position I turned to Jon and said, “Hurry up! Get it over with!” (obviously the most calming thing to say in such a situation) and Jon turned on the vacuum cleaner and approached us. To me it just sounded like a vacuum cleaner; to Chuck it must have sounded like, “Oh my God, it’s The End of the World and it is SCREAMING AT ME.” He was only able to suction a tiny square inch of fur on Chuck’s stomach before the beast clawed out of my arms and ran into the bathroom carrying his flea-infested ass to the place where my body got naked to take showers.


As in most situations involving me and my stupidity, Jon finally took charge of the situation and decided that he would drive around until he found a store that was open so that he could buy Chuck a flea bath. We should have thought of that the moment we had found a flea on Chuck’s body, but in case you haven’t noticed, nothing is ever easy for The Armstrongs.

Hours later after the fleas had multiplied and established a thriving metropolis in Chuck’s nether regions we stuck him in the bathtub and atom bombed their command center. When the tub drained there were THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dead fleas clinging to the porcelain. Okay, maybe not that many, but when it comes to fleas is there any difference between one and a thousand? THEY ARE ALL GROSS. If we had continued with Operation Suction Dog it would have taken 42 years to vacuum all of those fleas out of his fur.

I will end this story by assuring you, Internet, that I learned my lesson and will not be so stupid as to take a vacuum cleaner to my daughter’s head if she ever comes down with a case of lice. Although I will be tempted.