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Houseguest How-To

Photo of the living room of a compulsive hoarder

“Come on in! Make yourself comfy and don’t mind the hypodermic pile. It’s nearly almost certainly not contaminated.”

Recently, I had a houseguest inflicted upon me. I use a negative sounding word such as “inflicted” because houseguests are basically flatmates that you can’t berate for leaving teabags on the side or for eating all your saving-it-for-a-special-occasion-truffle oil. What’s more, you’re supposed to actually be glad to have them there and mean it when you say “make yourself at home”, no matter how much of an inconvenience they are to your daily routine.

Now, my recent houseguest is a delight and a treasure and really not much of a bother at all but the last time he came to stay for one night, he stayed eight weeks. Eight. Weeks. If he hadn’t been such a jolly good bloke then it would have been the longest eight weeks of my life and the last of his, but as it happened, we became something akin to a real life married couple. You know, drinking cups of tea all evening, sharing a bed and not having sex (that’s how marriage works, right?). Anyway, my point being that if he hadn’t been such easy company, the unplanned extended stay at PFPT Towers would have been about as desirable as a dash of Tabasco sauce to a papercut on the eyeball, so I have been thinking of an action plan to prevent such overstays-of-welcome from happening again.

First of all, you need to give your guest that cosy welcome, that open-armed greeting that will make sure they want to stay for exactly as long as they were expected to (or better still, less). I find the best way to do this is to fill your home with the warm homely scent that can only be achieved by eating egg and cabbage curry for the week leading up to their arrival date. It’s a potent mixture but guarantees results. Also useful for stripping gloss paint so you may want to plan a spot of redecorating if you try this for any lengthy period.

Having spent all week eating eggs, cabbages, pickled naga chillies and anything else that causes toxic gas clouds the likes of which would shame Chernobyl, you’ll be tempted to replenish your pantry with delicious delights that would tempt a supermodel into retirement. After all, nothing says “welcome” like a freshly baked apple pie or a shelf loaded with tantalising naughty nibblies and cheeky bottles of booze. Resist. Just remember this, if you feed a stray dog, they will haunt your doorstep for weeks and the same is true of the houseguest. I don’t advocate starving them altogether though, that’s just rude and will earn you a reputation as a miserly social retard, but a few random items selected from the reduced section of the supermarket (chopped liver with custard on stale rice cakes, anyone?) should prompt them to do the thoroughly decent thing of taking you to a restaurant for the proper feed you so clearly need, just before they set off back to their own well stocked abode.

Other than ensuring your kitchen is a zone of dietary denial, your bathroom may need some tweaks too, unless you want to hear “you’re out of that really expensive shampoo stuff and is the toilet flush handle supposed to come off?” coming from behind the shower curtain two weeks after allowing your dear “friend” to enter your domicile for “just one night until the heating’s fixed/my girlfriend forgives me for sleeping with her sister/they stop showing my picture on the news”. Damp musty towels and a bottle of value dandruff shampoo should do the job nicely. If you don’t know how to make your towels really damp and smelly, nip down to your local underpass and lend one to a wee-stained tramp for a few days.

Having played host to a man of 6’5” and in a flat of about the same proportions, I can honestly say that if you can avoid letting them into your bed (see the stray dog point again) then you’re on to a winner and less likely to wake up face down on your own bedroom carpet at 03:00 while an 18 stone starfish stages an Occupy Mattress movement. If you have a spare room, lock it and say you can’t open it until the government have finished removing vital evidence in there, declare your bed as out of bounds and festoon it with dirty undercrackers and mysteriously crumpled tissues, then simply invest in a teeny tiny sofa on which to accommodate any overnight visitors and maybe procure a sleeping bag from one of the tramps while you’re down at the underpass. Nothing shifts a houseguest like a dose of scabies and a mortally cricked neck.

So, now you’ve welcomed your guest into your pungent home, fed them a nutritionally balanced meal (tinned hotdogs with gone-off trifle will surely become a modern classic), they have come out of the bathroom smelling worse than a tramp’s pocket and all that they can look forward to is a night spent sleeping in what is essentially a dog basket, they’re going to want entertaining. Good job you hid the television and all the books save for The Bible written in Mandarin and a copy of Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus. Entertain yourself with that, chump! Now is where you advise them not to worry, they won’t be bored without telly, in this house we have lights out at 21:00 so we’re all up at 05:00 for naked jazzercise. Perhaps start performing a few warm up lunges there on the spot as a preview and ask them exactly what do you call ‘jazz hands’ if they’re performed by Granny’s breasts?

If, after all of above the measures, you still find your little home invader eager to continue their stay at your charming abode, like a one person plague of locusts, there is one sure fire way to see them shooting out your door faster than a greased turd going round the u-bend – threaten to reclaim the favour.


About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

50 responses »

  1. So in other words Martha Stewart doesn’t live here. And you won’t be gracing the covers of any home magazines any time soon, right?
    Maybe that’s the problem. Make the house squeaky clean and “Martha Stewart-y”. Make sure they take their shoes off before they enter, use Purell before EVERY meal, use the proper utensils at meal time, organize your cupboards to the point where they’re EXACTLY 1 1/2 inches from the edge and in lineal order and lights are out by 11pm.
    You know, reverse psychology.

  2. yeeeaah…… You’re batshit crazy . Consider the marriage thing rescinded .

  3. I wasn’t even on the shitter whilst reading this one! Brilliant!

  4. You have a delightfully effective way of stating a serious problem. It’s a good bit less maudlin than my method of handling unwanted houseguests. I just spread the word that I’m dying and they just sort of magically leave me alone.

    • My inlaws told their last unwanted house guest that they had a flea infestation. Better than crabs I suppose.. Voila, hotel booked, boring, maudlin, droning, snoring house guest cancelled!

  5. John Haslett

    Your absolutely correct in your thinking. Just prior to my last uninvited guest inviting himself, I sent a quick email advising my household had gone “Veggan”. I did it tongue-in-cheek but he still postponed his trip for a few days and later cancelled altogether. Whatever works is my new motto.

    • Funny how the thought of no bacon and eggs for breakfast sends them running for the hills, I might try that one. Tempt them with my tofu souffle with wheatgrass coulis.

  6. Pretending to be from North Wales always stymied any attempts by people to doss on my settee. Save me some of that trifle though – brings back a lot of childhood memories. Brilliant!

    • Trifle with salty hot dogs sticking out the top. You can’t go wrong!

      Why bother with the Welsh thing? I’d have thought pointing out to people that you’re ginger and therefore leave ginger pubes stuck to the soap would have done the trick.

  7. Ah, Granny’s jazz hands twirl in delight.
    Congrats on being FPed again, as well.

    • Thanks Sandy Sue! I’m still in shock about the second round of FP-ing. It happened just as I was thinking about jacking it all in. Guess I’ll have to keep churning ’em out now.

      I actually made myself feel a little sick at the thought of a granny jazz boob maneuver.

  8. Diego Serrano

    Hi Martha.
    It was nice to see your comment today. I stopped posting recently, thinking how the world would never miss my silly blog. I believe I’m right.
    The world didn’t miss my stupid shit, save for you and one other.

    Thanks for being so sweet and supportive. I always knew there was a kind person underneath all that tough word smithing.
    Best to you, dear.

    • WHAT?! I can’t believe that you think people disn’t miss your blog. I totally missed it and wondered where you’d got to. It may be silly but it’s one of the most wonderful silly things I always make time for.

  9. I cut out all the effort and just advise them that Monday to Friday is “erection time”. This is where I just sit on the sofa with a thousand yard stare wearing nothing but a smile and repeating the words “I’m am a pillar of the community” over and over. That usually works a treat.

    Failing that I obtain prosthetic limbs from a friend in the film business, lay down some plastic on the floor and smear some red paint up the walls next to the samurai sword I keep in the front room.

  10. Honoring a very long tradition of letting dogs do our dirty work for us, one could simply borrow a very friendly dog for the duration of the visit. The kind that will be constantly enamored of the guest, and will definitely want to mark the guest as “property” against other dogs.

    • One really randy one with scabies, a gammy eye, drool and worms. Actually, scrap the worms, I don’t want to have to clean up the skid-marks after it’s scooted all over the carpet.

  11. Consider me, thoroughly entertained.

  12. I dearly hope none of your past or potential houseguests are reading this 🙂

  13. I hear ya sista; we were stupid enough to relocate 11,000 km away from our home town ….to a holiday destination….you know, the one “it’s not worth going all that way for unless we have someone we can stay with and we might as well stay at least a month because we’ll lose a week with the jet lag”. Jesus, you’d have thought they’d of got the hint already when we emigrated…..sigh. Great post, good laugh and excellent advice, as being a Nanna, I have legit Granny breasts. Naked Yoga it is then.

    • Why, WHY would you move to a holiday destination? Mind you, I did similar. You have no idea how many “we’ll we’re up in London and thought we’d say hello. By the way, did you know how expensive hotels are?…” I get each year. I’ve stopped answering my phone. 😉

  14. New to wordpress and this blogging business, but I came across another post of yours and like your style. This one is great- I like it when people come to visit, but after about a weekend of guests I’m ready to get back to walking around naked, singing loudly in the shower, and sex anywhere we choose. I try to make sure that while my guests are here we do some touristy stuff that I have yet to do, so I get something out of it as well. And when they say they want to check out the 16th St Mall (and everybody does) I can tell them I’m not feeling well and be “bummed” that I’m missing out but to go along without me-maybe after a nap I’ll feel better. I always feel better, unless they want to do/see something else I’ve done/seen more than once, in which case it might be “something I ate” and can be cured at a moments notice.

    • i think in your casem the solution is to continue to have sex where you please. I defy even the most stubborn houeguest to remain planted on the sofa while there’s naked couple bonking on the dining room table.

  15. Having guests over for a day is perfectly fine with me. Having guests over for more than a night is a nightmare. When my dear spouse and I were first married, he would invite people over without discussing the matter with me first. It irritated me to the max. Why is it so important for him to ask me to see if someone can stay a night or two at our place? Because, even though they are his guests, he expected me to play hostess and cater to them. He has gotten better at letting me know and I’ve also gotten better at telling him, “I’m don’t want them over. If you have them stay over, you’re going to have to take care of them.”

    We now live in a small 2-bedroom apartment with our 2 children. There is no guest room (and I refuse to use my children’s room as a guest room because why should my children relinquish their comfort for those whom I believe can fare well on the ground). And since this apartment is a temporary place until we buy a home, we have yet to add a dinner table, chairs, a couch, a sofa, and a TV (who wants to buy furniture for an apt, live there for only a year, and then have to move all the heavy stuff? I know I don’t. And besides, we’re hardly ever home anyway). Yes, it is a guest’s paradise indeed. We’ve been here since July of last year and we’ve had one guest sleep one night at our place. When my family and I get into a bigger, more permanent place, I will have to use your strategy for house guest etiquette.

  16. You are my hero. I might have thought this post a little harsh before last New Year’s, when my “friend” was literally unable to stand (not for any neurological or orthopaedic reason) and stayed in my (single) bed; while making the bed the next day (of course she hadn’t done it) I discovered a delightful series of snot stains where she had blown her nose in my duvet cover. Now I’m thinking you’re a generous hostess for using up all your tinned hotdogs and trifle on such ingrates.

    • I’m going to edit this heavily and just leave it as “You are my hero.” and “you’re a generous hostess” and then send it to my mother. Thanks! 😉

  17. Pingback: A Delightful Houseguest « Heartfelt Hosting

  18. What’s that old saying? Something like “Guests are like fish . . . after three days they go off”.
    Or maybe it’s a lot sooner than that.

  19. Loved this! Can I come round and stay with you for 8 weeks? Sounds great 😉


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