Pulce: How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

For reasons I can’t explain, I am following a blog on how to speak Italian,The Art of Translation. It’s interesting—I like getting notice of the posts. Today, the topic was “Honey, Sweetheart, & Co.” Or, Italian nicknames for the beloved. I was looking forward to the topic. My husband and I call each other (TMI alert) “mon petit chou-chou,” French for my little cabbage. We do this because when I was studying French I thought this was the weirdest term of endearment I’d ever heard. My little peach, yes. My little cabbage?
So I’m reading the list of words Italian lovers use as terms of endearment:
Tesoro: honey
Stella: little star
Passerotto: little sparrow
Pulce: flea
FLEA!
Or as a Facebook friend said last time I posted about my relationship with fleas: fleeeeeeaaaaaasssss!!!
The exact moment I read this startling news, my husband was sweeping the apartment floors. I’d already vacuumed the rugs, put every pillow we owned in a sack, and removed the oil paintings from the wall. I’d learned how to use the attachments on the vacuum cleaner (I am not a gadget gal) so I could vacuum the upholstered chairs with a little brush thingy and vacuum between the cushions and along the baseboards with a little nozzle thingy. I’d cursed as I tried to remove the canister from the vacuum (see above re: gadgets). I’d called the Salvation Army to come pick up my old sofa, and I’d ordered a new one.
All of this in hopes the professional coming to spray the apartment would actually get rid of fleas.
And the Italians use fleas as a term of endearment.
How could a flea be a beloved thing?
In my ongoing efforts to rid my life of fleas, I’ve learned way more than I want to know about them. Their life cycle, their truly horrifying body anatomy. Every article I’ve read is accompanied by the gruesome photo of a bare back, the splotchy red flea bites (I know what a flea bit looks like, thank you very much.) I’ve researched, tried, and debunked more flea-removal remedies than I have anti-aging creams (Spoiler Alert: neither work.)
On a happier note, I have come to understand one of life’s truly unfair mysteries. To wit, why fleas turn me into an obsessed, itching maniac while my husband sits sanguine on the sofa. Turns out, it’s not because he’s trying to send me screaming over the edge but because some people (that would be me) are allergic to flea saliva and itch like the Devil and others (that would be him) are not.
Not just itch. Burn. Like someone dipped a Q-tip in acid and dabbed it on my skin. First one dab, then another, then another. I become 100% focused. I can talk about nothing other than my growing angst. I can’t think straight. I wander from room to room, forgetting why I’m on the move. Oh, yeah—maybe a hopping flea can’t hit a moving target.
How could the Italians use fleas in any way remotely connected to love?
Then I remember the “Time Before Fleas.” Before my husband and I had fleas in our lives, before he would sit on the flea-infested sofa unperturbed while I writhed, contorting my body in a vain effort to reach that one illusive bite. Back before the discrepancy between flea sensitivity came to define our relationship.
I remembered the symptoms of love.
A burning desire. An obsession. An inability to talk about anything thing else. A brain fog accompanied by an unrelenting awareness of the body. A symbiotic oneness of gigantic, unhealthy proportions.
Love. Fleas. Hmmmm. Those Italians may know what they’re talking about.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

fleas, getting rid of fleas, love, pulce, vacuum, why fleas bite one person

Comments (2)

  • Whoa! This was nothing like what I thought it would be. I love word association and this took me there! Really great piece, Ellen. Also in your last paragraph, when you said “Brain Fog,” it triggered me that after our honeymoon, we brought home a stray poodle and then had to set off a “Flea Fog Bomb.” The next night we could get back in fresh bedding again. Fleas-Fog-Linens-Love!

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I’m so glad you liked it. Who would have thought someone else could find an association between fleas and new love? Thanks for dropping by, reading, commenting, and enjoying.

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