Dear Annie: My friend is a massage therapist. She had been offering me discounted professional massages in her home for months, and I finally took her up on it. The massage was fantastic. Later that night, however, I found many fleabites on my back, arms and legs. I am certain I got them from her house during our session.

My friend has suggested that I continue coming to her house to work on my sore back, and frankly, I’d love to do it. But the thought of getting bitten by fleas again turns my stomach and will not make for a very relaxing experience.

I don’t want to confront her with the flea business, because she’s the type who would be both offended and defensive. But if I never return for a massage, she will get the impression that I didn’t like her services — which will also cause offense. I can’t suggest my place, because she has no work studio and would have to haul a very heavy massage table to my house. What do I do? — Fleas a Crowd in Hawaii

Dear Hawaii: It’s possible that whatever bit you came from the covering on her massage table and not her house. Also, they may have been bedbugs and not fleabites. As much as you don’t want to offend your friend, you need to tell her because it affects her business. Be as gentle as you can, saying how much you enjoyed the massage, but that you noticed you were covered in bites that night. It might remove some of the sting if you suggest that the bites were the result of a previous customer rather than her cleaning skills.

Dear Annie: I am living with a man whose wife died three years ago, yet nearly all of her clothes and other personal effects are still in the house.

How should I tactfully ask him to take care of this? It bothers me, but because of the sensitive nature of the situation, I hesitate to make a big issue out of it. Am I being unreasonable? — No Name Anywhere

Dear No Name: Are her personal effects still in the house because he can’t bear to part with them or because the job is too overwhelming? Ask gently whether he would like your help packing up these things (not “getting rid” of them). If he has children, perhaps they would like to go through her belongings and select items that have meaning for them. If he seems reluctant, don’t press.

You can ask again in a few months. And once you get started, please don’t appear to be overly eager. You must treat this situation with the respect it deserves.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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