There are some rules that all houseguests should follow without arguing with said homeowners.
1. Listen to the homeowners. You may disagree. You may vehemently disagree. But if a homeowner says to please do not throw banana peels down the garage disposal and you claim to do it “all the time” at your own home – guess what? You aren’t at your own home and I would rather not replace my garage disposal on account of you being a stubborn pain in the ass.
2. Every meal does not need to be a re-enactment of a Food Network TV show. I get it, you don’t use much seasoning or herbs in your own cooking (could it be that is because you buy a lot of pre-packaged foods that are already pre-seasoned to death? And if you take the measly little teaspoon – or, GASP, two – of salt I add to a dish it doesn’t even come close to the amount of sodium in your pre-seasoned, pre-packaged frozen salmon). I also understand that you would not cook your pork, chicken breast, spaghetti, beef, burritos, or rice in the same way I do so you don’t really have to say something each and every time dinner arrives at the table about how something isn’t prepared the way you used to do it.
3. Go with the flow in TV land. You are the guest. Odds are the people who own the house already have a set amount of TV shows they record and watch on a regular basis. I don’t want to listen to you try and convince me that I must watch yet another cop-related television show. And, I especially don’t want to hear you complain and sigh and criticize every damn show we watch because it is too stupid or silly. Either sit there and shut up about it or go in your own room and watch television.
4. While on the subject of television. I realize you may live alone and therefore you are only talking aloud to yourself and an empty room when you are at home – but talking constantly during an entire television show drives people absolutely bat shit crazy. I think a one hour show took 2.5 hours to watch because we were pausing it so many times so you can talk to the actors, yell at the talk-show hosts, or ask where you have seen them before which would require a trip to Google to look it up.
5. Thanks, but I’ll fold our own underwear.
6. Hobbies-a-go-go. I know you are full of wisdom you are dying to pass on to your homeowners. Like how to garden when you yourself only had a garden once in your life outside of an occasional herb in a pot and a few fruit trees. My planning and obsessive behavior towards my garden and the plants within are my thing – and I have read books and books on gardening and have a lot of trial and error with actual hands on so I don’t really need to hear over and over how your father back in 1930 used to just throw seeds and everything grew just fine. Sigh.
7. Thank You, but. I think houseguests are lovely when they buy food and other necessities for the homeowners. A trip to Costco without having to open my purse? A slice of heaven, I’ll tell ya. However, the food does not automatically become “yours” because you happened to buy it. If a kid wants a few berries, by golly, they should be allowed the berries. And if you buy some kind of treat – let’s say chocolate covered coconut, you really have no right to “hide” it in my own damn kitchen because you don’t want anyone else to eat it. Dear Gawd, really?
8. Take a back seat. Yeah, I am sure you miss driving but I’m sorry, you aren’t going to just go and take my car. I’ve seen you drive your own car and I say a silent prayer to St. Michael every time I drive with you. I’ve also seen and heard your impatience level and I don’t want you behind my wheel.
9. Phone conversations. Have a little respect and take a call outside when you are telling your neighbor how much you miss being home, how much you are counting down the days until you can get back home, and how you can hardly wait to get back to your routine. OhhhKayyy.
10. Do Not Stand Over Me In My Office. Um, excuse me? Why are you watching me type? It is unnerving.
11. Do Not Give The Dog Whatever You Want. We will end up suffering when she throws up or has to go out in the middle of the night because you felt the dog would just love some pork fat from the ribs we cooked the night before.
12. Don’t discipline the children. When my kids want a snack when they come home from school and it is something they are allowed to do – don’t tell them they can’t eat anything until dinner. I’m the mom, remember? And while we are on the subject, please don’t disagree with my decisions in front of my kids or ridicule me in front of them either.
13. Don’t be the Rearrange Queen. I do not expect you to agree with everything and the way I do things – but you also don’t live here so does it really matter to you where I keep my hand towels? Or where I keep my toaster? Or how I wrap my cheese? Three words: Let It Go.
14. The Part Time Gardener. Do not, I repeat, Do Not go outside and begin trimming bushes and plants and then – oh me gawd – and then leave the branches where you picked them for someone else (me) to come up behind you and clean up your mess. If you feel the need to trim, then throw them in the goddamn trash too.
15. This way and that way. If I drive one way to get out to a main street, you do not need to argue with me over how another way would be better. If I drive to the library, store, gas station, book store, craft store, or anything else outside my house you do not need to advise me on the better way to go – and the way you would go if you were driving. Again, does it really matter? Who the hell cares which way I go?
16. If you are “freezing” when it is 70 degrees then by golly it is time to bundle the hell up. And if you claim to be so, so, sooooo cold when it is a pleasant 64 degrees outside and you insist you are absolutely freezing that you stick your hand in a hot 400 degree oven to “warm your hands” and then you burn yourself on the smoking hot shelf, um, how much sympathy are you expecting exactly? I did show you where the ointment was, didn’t I? Next time don’t be so difficult trying to prove how “cold” the house was (at 70 degrees) and put your hands in a very hot oven like a three year old.
17. Be a little quieter. You know that one person works from home upstairs a couple of days a week and another person (me) writes in an office right across the hall from your guest room – so in the morning when you hear the person upstairs in a meeting and my door closed try to avoid singing – SINGING – along with whatever program you are watching…or YELLING at the news program with things you disagree with.
18. Stay out of the kitchen. I know you feel the need to somehow re-create a time in your life when you used to cook certain things but two women in a kitchen is really not a good combination – especially when you move around so fast that you begin barking orders at me to get you this, get you that, don’t touch this, and don’t season that. Truthfully, I would rather just do the cooking because it saves the inevitable headache.
19. Request after Request. I don’t mind being accommodating to your needs and I try hard to be patient, however, you no sooner walk into the door and you need someone to look at your cellphone, Google the Boston Marathon because you want to see the scarves that were donated that you crocheted, television shows that you wanted added to our TiVo, a pattern online, something to print, photos to upload, games downloaded on the spare computer, certain foods, tea in the afternoon, a phone number you can’t find, a bill that needs paying in person, tracking of a postal delivery, and so on and so on…and so on.
20. Why do you care? What difference does it make to you, really, if I want to decorate rocks for my garden? Or if I use a certain type of soap in the kitchen? Or that I use one set of plates over another? Or certain bowls over another type of bowl? Or how many scoops of ice cream we all eat? Or if I like my willow to be longer compared to more trimmed? Or that I sit with a book or something to organize when I watch television and you claim I need to pay attention? Or how high we trim the grass? Or if I talk to my neighbors? Or if I like my coffee spoon to be hand-washed and put with my coffee cups and the container of coffee?
21. If I gently remind you to not SLAM the microwave door – can you try really hard to not slam the damn door each and every time you use it?
Having a houseguest is a challenge. Routines are messed up, time disappears during the day, and differences in personalities are obvious. I enjoy a quiet house during the day while my houseguest wants constant noise – usually in the form of the television on ALL. DAY. LONG. And on LOUD as well, which makes me this side of crazy. I am used to working all morning and half the afternoon in my office but I feel I can’t do that when I have a houseguest. I am also a homebody, I love being home and yet when I have a houseguest every day is spent out – going here, going there, running errands, looking for a dresser she wants for her room.
In another words, I’m often exhausted well before bedtime.
You also realize something else when you have a houseguest with you for an extended period of time. I have lived on my own for over 25 years and I don’t spend my day answering to anyone but myself. I don’t have to explain why I leave my coffee cup on the sink and no one asks me why I am eating egg whites for lunch. No one questions the way I fold a towel or how I park my car in the garage.
And, I believe it was Franklin that said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”