When I awoke Friday morning, little did I know how much Lucy the Cocker Spaniel and I would end up having in common by that evening.
I can’t help but think my brother Paul had something to do with what happened, too. I had often asked if I could spend a week or two at the house. It’s so beautiful there and I imagined myself spending all day writing by the pond, or on the patio. I thought of it as my own personal Ragdale, if you will, without the application process.
Even though I am a delight of a houseguest, Paul was never very enthusiastic about the idea of me spending an extended period of time there. Terry said I was always welcome, anytime. Maybe Paul was kidding, but after what happened Friday night, I’m not so sure.
Terry went to work.
Lucas treated the house and surrounding areas like a national park, snapping photos of every thing from every angle.
I spent most of our last full day outside, playing with Rudy and Sky.
Lucas offered to prepare supper, so I got out of his way. When Terry came home, the three of us sat down and ate every delicious thing Lucas had prepared, and enjoyed a nice peaceful evening together.
Until the itching began.
During supper, I couldn’t stop scratching the right side of my mid-section, right where my jeans sat on my waist. I didn’t think much about it but as we cleared the table, the itching became unbearable. I picked up my shirt a tad, and, since I can’t see over The Girls, asked Lucas if he saw anything unusual.
Unusual is asking your almost 21-year-old son to check out your abs, or the place where abs should be.
Lucas, who didn’t seem traumatized by my request, took a quick look, yelled, “Oh my god,” and backed away from me. He’s usually pretty “chill” about most things in general, so I knew he wasn’t joking. I ran into the bathroom, hoping I was tall enough to see my mid-section’s reflection in the mirror.
I stood on my tip-toes. There they were. Welts. Red welts. Itchy, red welts had invaded the right side of my abdomen. One was working its way toward my belly button, and several began to form on my right arm and leg, as well.
I ran out to show Terry who immediately said, “You have chiggers.”
“I have What-ers?”
Terry got out one of his bug books and and said, “They’re not still on you.”
Of course, I heard, “they’re burrowing into your skin, having babies, and making you itchy!” I took this news calmly, flailing about the house, shedding clothes as fast as I could, and perhaps shrieking a tiny bit. I heard later that Terry told my mother, “I’ve never seen so much of Leslie.”
I think I kept my underpinnings pinned, but can’t remember. The thought of bugs setting up camp on my body, combined with the itchiness was driving me mad. Mad I tell you!
I took a shower and boiled my clothes. Terry told me I had the worst case of chiggers he’d ever seen.
I could now empathize with Lucy, except I didn’t smell bad.
I sat on the sofa in clean pj’s, and texted my girlfriends back home for support. When I told them Terry brought me Benadryl, and a cup of tea, you could almost hear the collective, “Awwww” crossing over the border from Illinois. Terry has always been so sweet and thoughtful, and I’ve always felt lucky to have him as my other brother.
My friends were sympathetic and even texted me remedies they had looked up online:
Richard was not as kind. After penning beautiful texts and leaving loving voicemails all week, I received this:
I had taken many photos with my phone that day. As I lay on the sofa, I decided to calm myself by looking at the pretty pictures I’d taken using the magic box (the Benadryl was kicking in.)
As I scanned through to the end of the photos, I sat upright. I remembered Terry reading out-loud that chiggers tended to jump onto human hosts from low-flying plants, usually at dusk.
By George, the pictures on my camera made the evidence jump out at me! The scene of the crime was as clear as my skin had been before the chiggers invited themselves over for a snack. I had solved the Mystery of the Invading Chiggers!
(Exhibit B is not technically an “exhibit,” but more of an an explanation.)
Exhibit B: Who do you think was sitting with her right butt cheek amongst the low-flying plants, while balancing herself on the patio with her left one in order to take this picture?
Lucas drove all the way home so that I could knock myself out with Benadryl, sleep, and try not to scratch (scratch, scratch, scratch!) That night at home, I tried the Vicks Vapor Rub and salt idea. Wow! It worked! I did it for two nights and it really helped. Of course, I had to wash the salty sheets because Richard didn’t like being exfoliated by errant salt throughout the night.
But the best trick I learned was one I figured out myself: The Reverse Bridge Pose Powder Application. Since I couldn’t wear an apparatus to confine The Girls, I realized that, thanks to the laws of gravity, and some knowledge of yoga, a Reverse Bridge Pose was ideal for applying powder underneath those otherwise hard to reach areas.
Oh, and one final thing. I “designed” this t-shirt to commemorate our trip:
Yes, Beth*. There will be a part III about our incredible day Saturday at Greening the Statehouse in Indianapolis, with Jesse Kharbanda, and Caitlin Priest.
*I am now required, by the laws of Beth, to insert the name “Beth” into every post.