The Never Leaving Guest

by admin on September 11, 2012

My husband’s best friend, Marcus, and his wife, Penny, were coming to our apartment for a little pre-Christmas feasting and imbibing. The plan was to have them over, serve up a bunch of appetizer-type dishes, drink a lot of festive cocktails and then watch that heartwarmingest of heart warming holiday classics, Christmas Vacation. Marcus, a cook, suggested they contribute some goodies, which was more than fine with me – the more food, the merrier!

The day before the party I suddenly remembered that Marcus and Penny had been going gluten-free last I heard, and thought it the polite thing to do to call them up and inquire about the state of their diets. “Hi!”,  I said. “So I know you and Penny have been doing the gluten-free thing. Before I get in the kitchen, is that still on? Just wanted to check and make sure! Oh, and are you still eating meat? Because I also remember at one point you guys weren’t eating meat, so…”  “Well, no,”  he said, “the gluten thing isn’t really on. I mean, we try not to, but it’s no big if we do.”  We chatted for another minute and then just as I was about to hang up I hear,”But, um, yeah, about the stuff we don’t eat thing? Well, we’re not really into pork, and we’re both trying to stay away from red meat…veal is murder and WE WON’T TOUCH THAT! Um, and fish has so much mercury in it now, so maybe not fish. Chicken’s good. I mean, free range chicken is better, but chicken’s good. Oh, and tomatoes. The acid in them destroys your teeth, so we’re trying to cut down on those…uh, let’s see. We’re really trying to cut down on our fat intake, too, because all those cream-based things just make you feel so heavy, so maybe not that kind of stuff either.”   The litany continued for another 30 seconds or so and finally ended with, “Ooh, but I’d love to have that pineapple tart you made that one time! That was so good! Just maybe not with the devon cream this time. I’d try whipped cream instead. That would be better.”

“This guy is a raging tool,” you may be thinking to yourself. Well, I was inclined to agree, even knowing that Marcus is just a very high strung individual with a lot of neuroses about, well, everything. But I had come to understand that for the very few times a year I saw the guy, I could put up with his antics, because it made my husband happy and I genuinely enjoyed Penny’s company.

The day of the party we’re bustling around cleaning and cooking when the phone calls start coming in. First Marcus wants to know exactly what I’m making so we won’t have any  “flavour clashes”.  We compare lists and Marcus hangs up. A few minutes later he calls back and wants to know what I think about his suggestions. “Sounds great to me,” I say, while wondering exactly why he’s so wound up. It’s just appetizers, man! Two hours later he calls to say that they’ll be at our place in an hour, but can they stop and get anything on the way there that we might have forgotten? “Yes!,” I shout. “The maraschino cherries for the Manhattans! Thank you!”  45 minutes later they call to say they’re heading out and will stop at a store on the way over. I hang up and ask my husband why Marcus and Penny seem so intent on narrating their entire day for me. An hour later they finally arrive. Marcus is grumpy and clutching a bottle of maraschino cherries. Penny looks annoyed. The implication is that this is all my fault for forgetting the cherries in the first place.

Everybody gets over their moods and we get down to the serious business of eating. I provided all manner of yummy snacks ranging from vegan to vegetarian to outright carnivore, and I took great (internal) smug glee in noting that Marcus had eaten tons of my chow and very little of his own. “Dietary restrictions, my widening fanny,” I thought to myself.

During and after dinner and cocktails we watched the movie and chatted about our plans for the holidays, and then, about six hours later, when the evening should have been wrapping up, it just…didn’t. Marcus and Penny stayed on, and on, and on, long past the point of either good manners or a genuine interest in our company. We had simply run out of things to say. Undeterred, Marcus began looking up stupid cat videos online (something I quite enjoy myself, actually!) When it, too, continued long past the point of being funny or even mildly amusing, Penny put her hand on his leg and said, “Do you want to turn that off, sweetie? Because I think it’s time we go. It’s pretty late.”   Marcus sulkily muttered, “Yeah, yeah, okay, I get it, Penny, thanks.”  For the next couple of minutes my husband and I sat uncomfortably and watched as Marcus and Penny not-so-jokingly tore each other to shreds. They didn’t seem to mind that we were there, but we sure did.

So I got up and began clearing away some dishes I had left on the table. They stayed on, sniping on. My husband blew out the few remaining lit candles. They stayed on. I filled up the cat dish, loaded the dishwasher and brushed the crumbs off the coffee table. Marcus and Penny stayed on, undeterred. So we gave up. Resistance is futile. We sat back down and stared blankly at one another as Marcus and Penny continued taking passive aggressive jabs at one another. Two hours later they finally left, clocking our “evening” in at a little over nine hours.

They got married some months after that and then divorced even more months after that, so, you know, there’s that. 0829-12


When our guests are not getting the subtle clues we drop that it is time to go home, my husband looks at me and says quite cheerfully, “Well, honey, I think we need to go to bed so these lovely people can go home.”  We both then stand and start moving towards the door to lead the way for our guests to exit.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Selphie Trabia September 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Usually, if it gets too late, I will say something like, “Okay dudes. I’m kickin’ ya’ll out!”

To close friends only, of course. It seems to work.

There was one guy who overstayed his welcome many times. It was this dude who would just sit in my house using my internet for hours and hours and hours after Japanese class. Everytime I mentioned it was late and that he needed to go, he would just scoff and say that he knew I didn’t sleep that early (it was almost midnight!). Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore, since it was affecting my health. I asked my female neighbour to come over for a sleepover and, while this guy was still using the Internet, we both went to bed while the guy was still using the Internet. He took the hint and never came back again.


Hilary September 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Poor OP, reminds me of my in-laws. They’re the ridiculous guests who ALWAYS leave EVERY function DEAD LAST. We’re frequently invited to a Christmas party hosted by close family friends, and I’ve learned to never ride in the same vehicle with them. My husband is always pushing for it so we have a built in designated driver (his father doesn’t drink), but if we go with them, we’ll easily be there until midnight – even if all the other guests leave by 10pm!

The best example of this was earlier this year. I had a pretty gnarly knee surgery about a week before Mother’s Day. They invited us out for a brunch to celebrate, and I decided to be a trooper and leave the house for the first time since my surgery. I was still on crutches and on heavy pain medications at this point, but it was nice to get out. I lasted about 45 minutes before I was incredibly exhausted and in too much pain to stay. We excused ourselves and drove home, and I settled back into my easy chair for a much needed nap and a couple of pain pills.

Five minutes after we arrived home, who should show up at our door but the entire family! All five of them walked right in, settled in the living room and started chatting with me. I was aghast and didn’t know how to get rid of them politely. I made a few comments about how tired I was, and how I needed to rest, but they didn’t take the hints at all. So I simply closed my eyes and let the pain pills do their work! Once I fell soundly asleep, my husband informed me that they finally filed out.


Allison September 13, 2012 at 12:01 am

@Gloria Shiner – I am dying to know! Why were the cops waiting for them?? Had they been drinking?

My boyfriend is bad for not feeling he has the right to say that people should leave. “They’re my friends, I cant tell them to leave” – Yes you can!

A similar etiquette Faux pas that drives me up the wall (which used to happen, until I taught my partners friends some manners) is people just “popping in” after dinnertime. Just popping in, is rude in itself, but I can handle it during the day, but once I am in jammies, it is extrememly rude to come and visit my house and expect me to host you and be happy about it.


Library Diva September 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

All these stories remind me of an incident that happened when my fiance and I first started dating. He was in college at the time, I was a recent grad, and he lived off-campus with three other guys. One of his roommates had a friend who was very odd. His social skills were minimal, his personality incredibly bland to an odd degree. Let’s call him Z. I was over at my future fiance’s apartment one evening when Z dropped by. Z’s friend had literally just left to go to a friend’s dorm room to exploit the campus’s faster internet connection and download some movies illegally. Before he left, he told us that even with the T1 line, he’d still be gone for about four hours. We conveyed this to Z, and Z just…hung around. “I’ll wait,” he said. We re-emphasized this to Z, and he affirmed that he’d just wait.

And he did. Wait. All night long. He observed while my fiance, my fiance’s visiting friend from home and I played video games. We offered him a turn, and he declined. My fiance and his friend went outside to do some work on one of their cars, and Z came down with me to watch. Afterwards, we popped in a movie, and he just…watched. It was weird because he didn’t make much of an attempt to interact with us, and turned down all of our attempts to include him. Around 11 PM, we started making subtle hints about how tired we were, etc.

Nothing, and the pathetic spectacle of someone who had so little to do with himself that he waited for hours for his only friend to return home gave this an especially awkward dimension. I don’t remember the upshot of it, sadly. We started to feel that to ask him to leave would be like kicking a puppy left out in the rain. I think his friend did return home, but by that point, he was tired too, and I think got rid of Z gently so everyone could go to bed.


Shalamar September 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Argh, Allison, that’s one of my pet peeves as well. I confess to being a bit anti-social, but I’m more than happy to welcome my friends to my home if it’s pre-arranged to everyone’s schedule. One time my friend e-mailed me to say “I still have that DVD you loaned me. I’ll be in your neighborhood tonight – how about I drop by and return it?” I responded “Sure, but (husband) and I will be out between 6 and 8, so you’ll have to plan accordingly.” He responded “Okay, see you at 7.” So, he’d completely misunderstood my point – that we’d be OUT during that time! (This is typical of my friend. He’s always in such a hurry, he only skims e-mails and often misses vital points.) In alarm, I tried to phone him to tell him that he’d gotten the time wrong, but he wasn’t answering. So, I shrugged my shoulders and figured that he’d pop by, find that we were out, put the DVD in the mailbox, and I’d explain what happened later.

Well – he came by at 7, rang the doorbell, and – when we didn’t answer – tried the door. He found it unlocked and poked his head in, calling “Helllooo?” My two teenage daughters, who were home but already in their jammies, were VERY upset and self-conscious to have him just come barging in, and they basically hid until he left. Leave he did, puzzled and hurt, wondering what had happened.

I felt terrible when I got home, for all concerned!


Lucky September 14, 2012 at 11:48 am

Slightly off-topic: I really appreciate that the contributor of this was a better writer than many.


Angel September 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Before we were married, my husband had his own house, aka bachelor pad–most of his friends were either married with kids or still lived at home with their parents (ugh) so his was the crash pad if his friends had too much to drink. He had one friend who was famous for sleeping over and literally sleeping the next day until 2-3 pm. The guy is very nice, but come on! Vampires don’t sleep that much during the day! My then boyfriend was so relieved when I woke up said friend one afternoon when I went over to his house from work–and basically said, you need to wake up and join the living. We still laugh about it to this day!


DeborahS September 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Recently, I was the guilty party in overstaying my welcome. I had a standing Thursday night gig to babysit for a friend so she could have a break from her three-year old triplets. Our routine was dinner, play, bath, jammies and when Mommy got home, they knew it was bedtime. This particular night, one of the girls was extra tired and grumpy, but Mom came home and she and I wanted to visit, so I didn’t leave at my appointed time. We were all sitting in the floor, continuing to visit, when fussy girl came over to me, put her tiny arm around me and starting singing her toddler version of “Rockabye Baby.” Then she cupped my face in her hands and said in the sweetest voice ever, “You go home now!”


Cat Whisperer September 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Subtlety is wasted on boors. Marcus and Penny were/are boors. (My SIL’s long-term live-in boyfriend was a lot like Marcus as far as the dietary fads, sensitivities, and alleged dietary problems. Never stopped him from eating (or drinking, and drinking to excess) what he wanted, particularly if it was on someone else’s nickel. He’d eat (or drink) the grub and then kvetch endless afterwards about how his “needs” weren’t accomodated. )

When it’s time to kick a boor out, you skip the polite hints, the efforts to indirectly indicate it’s time to go. You go direct to the unsubtle “Marcus, Penny, it’s been a fun evening, but you need to go now. We have to get to bed so we can go to work tomorrow.” And if necessary, you collect their coats and such and walk out to their car. And you don’t feel apologetic about it, either.


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