Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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I was reading the Ehell updates, and I came across the story of the woman who found the box of used condoms under her bed. I grant that these guests were completely out of line in leaving used condoms under the bed. However, I have to wonder if it's not some sort of karmic retribution for the way that this hostess treated her own guests.

She says that her husband invited these people to stay in their house for a weekend. It was not the couple who called out of the blue and asked if they could stay. This woman then has the nerve to tell her own guests that they can stay, but only if they bring their own bedding, because it's "not our style" to wash her guests' sheets. Obviously, she's got some sort of germ phobia and feels that touching a bed that someone else has slept in is unsanitary. It would be out of line for me to suggest that she see a psychiatrist in order to allay her fears of catching some dread disease from touching someone else's bedding, but in the mean time, she could just put pillow and mattress covers on her bed to protect them and wear rubber gloves when changing the sheets, though even this to me seems a bit obsessive/compulsive.

I can understand wanting to see friends despite not being able to afford to feed and entertain them for a weekend. In my opinion, however, it is completely unacceptable that someone would invite guests and then not do them the service of making the bed properly, as well as washing the bedding for them when they leave. It seems the least she could do.



I have a very good friend, Kim, who is normally very considerate but what she did when I invited her to my house on her birthday just blew me away. 

Her daughter, Ashley, from a previous relationship was about 7 years old at the time.  I was on the phone with Kim and mentioned that I would like to have her and her boyfriend over on her birthday, and that I would cook her a nice seafood dinner.  Ashley apparently heard Kim talking about this with me and insisted that she go.  Now, I love Ashley but she can be a handful and was going through a very bratty stage at that time.  I felt that this would be more of an adult evening, with wine and so forth.  But before I knew it, Kim interrupts our conversation to answer her daughter by saying, “You can come, as long as you bring your Daddy as your date.”  Apparently Kim was OK with having her daughter there, but wanted Ashley’s dad around to take her home (he gets her on the weekends) so she thought it was OK to invite him over for her own convenience. 

Now I feel that I truly bear half the responsibility for this because I did not put a stop to it right then.  My only excuse is that I was flabbergasted and sometimes you don’t know how to come up with the most appropriate, assertive response right on the spot.  But I knew and liked her ex-boyfriend, and ex-boyfriend and new-boyfriend were on good terms, so I figured I’d go with it.  But the next week, a few days before the dinner, Kim calls me and in a laughing, I’m-in-trouble manner, tells me that she has invited more people!  Ex-boyfriend’s father and brother were going to be in town on that night, but she still did not want to abandon the plan of having Ashley’s dad around to take the little girl home when it started getting late.  So she of course invited brother and dad to join us!

At this point my displeasure was showing but my concern was about not wanting to insult these out-of-town guests, who did not know that they were in the midst of an etiquette nightmare.  So I told her pointedly I’d deal with it, and I’d have to change the menu to something more simple and economical, like home-made fried chicken.  This is where Kim makes her third and worst blunder.  We get off the phone and then she calls me back the next day to tell me that she had been trying unsuccessfully to find a polite way to un-invite the uninvited guests because, she’d been thinking, “Chicken!  I’m so tired of chicken!”  I kid you not.  She said this.  To which I bluntly replied “Well the chicken’s already been BOUGHT.”  I think at that point she started to get the message.

The dinner itself went fine and I was honestly very pleased to meet ex-boyfriend’s dad, who was a very neat man.  However, the fact remains that I invited two guests to my home and got six!  I have learned since then to speak up before things spiral out of control!



Oh God.  Where do I start? 

At the beginning, I suppose.  I graduated from high school 50 years ago this year.  When I happened across a website which puts old classmates in touch with each other, I registered.  Shortly thereafter, I received an email from a woman (We are all now 68 years old) and we made arrangements to meet in the near future, which we did, and which was an enjoyable afternoon.  Soon I heard from another classmate who wanted my address so that she could send me a newspaper clipping featuring her and her husband in 1940's clothing attending a dance.  She then started calling me.  I live in a town which caters to tourists so I told her if she were ever in town, to give me a call.  

Within a week I received a call that they were coming and would be staying with me.  I have guest quarters separate from the main house so I told her they could stay there.  She said I shouldn't worry, that they were  perfectly capable of entertaining themselves and wouldn't take up much of my time.  Over the next few days, she moved up their date of arrival until  it actually interfered with some plans I had, but I cancelled my plans and told them they could come. 

I made sure the guest quarters were clean.  There is a kitchen, breakfast room, living room, bedroom and bathroom there.  I supplied coffee, sugar and cream as well as a coffee pot for them.

I told the friend whom I had recently met about their coming and invited her to come too.  She was to be traveling in the West just prior to the appointed time but said she would try to make it.

The arrival day came!!! I had told them to stop and call me at a certain location since my house is in the mountains and hard to find, so they called and I went to meet them, a trip taking no more than five or ten minutes.  They told me they had a red Cadillac and I found it and gave my friend a hug and she introduced me to her husband, with whom I attempted to shake hands, but he grabbed me in a big bear hug which by the way I did not appreciate  since he was a stranger to me, so things didn't get off to a good start.  Anyway we came to my home and after chatting for a short time, I offered to take them into the town to show them some of the sights.

We got into my car, a 2006 Subaru Tribeca, and started off.  Harry, the husband, asked me how much my car cost.  I just threw out a number and said I didn't really remember.  He pounced on this to say that their car (The red Cadillac with a front license plate which says, "A Touch of Class") cost much more than mine. She asked what kind of radio was in the car and I said I had no idea.  She said, "Our car has a Bose radio--you should hear it."  I was, at the time playing a CD in my perfectly adequate stereo system. 

Soon it was dinner time and I had planned the menu to be served at no particular time, so I set the table and did the last minute preparations and showed them where to sit.  She didn't like the seat in which I placed her, so she moved to a spot which was hard to get into because of a dog bed, but she allowed as how she wanted to climb in there to sit. 

Dinner consisted of a beef dish and I had bought some red wine, it wasn't expensive, about $25.00 a bottle which I poured and into which they both put ice.

I took them to the guest quarters and showed them the coffee, etc. and told them that I am usually up by 7:30, but if they got up early, to just make their coffee and I would see them later.  She said she didn't drink coffee.  She preferred tea.  I then furnished her a kettle and a teapot so she could make her tea.  The first morning I came down around 8 and they were dressed and waiting, peering in the kitchen window.  They had not made coffee or tea, and she returned the kettle and teapot to my kitchen so I could make it for her, which I didn't do, forcing her to make her own.  Harry asked if he could use his special pan to make breakfast, his pan being a  cheap Teflon skillet, but I said sure and he proceeded to fry eggs and break the yolks.  I said nothing and furnished bacon, biscuits, etc.  He didn't again suggest that he cook. 

Then the inquisition started.  Why was I flying flags at night?  Because, Harry, I have lights on them and that is according to the rules.  How about in the rain?  Well, Harry, it is permissible to leave them in the rain if they are weatherproof.  Why was there moss on my roof?  Because I like it.  Does it harm the roof?  No the roof is guaranteed for 40 years.  Nothing escaped his notice and he had to comment on everything he saw, questioning my competence to run my house, which I have done quite nicely for many years.  Why does the water in my refrigerator run slowly?  It doesn't run slowly.  Does it have a filter?  Yes, three of them.  How often are they changed.  I have a man who changes them several times a year.  Why do I always wear pastel clothes?  I don't.

I arranged for Harry to golf with a friend who lives about 30 miles away.  He was to meet  my friend at 8:30 so I told him I would get up at 7:00 so he could eat and have time to meet my friend.  At 6:30 I heard people going around my house, frantically trying to enter every door so I got up and there they were, trying to get in the house.  She (The wife) said if you weren't up in 15 minutes, we were going to bang on the door and ring the doorbell.

Harry wanted to know why I don't have a burglar alarm like he has.  I told him that I do indeed have a burglar alarm and if they had succeeded in finding an unlocked door, the police would have come immediately.  He said that he had to get in to get milk so he could have cereal (apparently he had brought cereal)  and he had decided to leave earlier than we had discussed. Why he couldn't just go to MacDonald's for breakfast, I don't know.  That night, I gave him the milk, but to the best of my knowledge he never ate cereal again as his appetite was quite healthy when I prepared breakfast.  He also, thank God, never cooked eggs again in my house.

Harry asked if he could wash his car in my driveway.  I told him that I have a well and I don't wash cars in my driveway and I showed him the carwash where I take my car.  He went out and bought himself a nozzle, but I don't think he ever actually washed his car.

She wanted to know if she could do her laundry.  I told her that I had things in my washer, that I had covers I put on the sofas when the dogs are at home, and that's where I keep them when not in use.  She told me I could take them out so she could do her laundry.  Why, oh why, didn't I tell her I would show her where there is a laundromat?  These people were strangers to me using my washer and dryer.

Harry would walk in my house and turn on some ball game on the TV even though there is a TV in the guest quarters.  I finally told him that we wouldn't be having a ball game on TV while we ate and if he wanted to, he could take his dinner out to the guest quarters.  That, of course, was too much trouble for Harry, so I turned off the ball game and turned on some soothing music.

My friend who had joined us because I had sent her a one word email --"Help"--thought it was funny at first, but then she became so upset that she would ask me for a  glass of wine before facing the couple.  I do not drink alcohol at all, so I remained unfortified for the fray.

I had put my two dogs in the kennel for their visit since one of them is diabetic and requires that I be home at lunchtime as  she must eat three special meals a day.  When my dear guests announced that they were staying for a week, I prepared additional food for my dog to take to the kennel.  When I was ready to go, I told them I had to take the food, and they wouldn't leave my house.  They sat there and I sat there jingling my keys.  I didn't really know these people and hesitated to leave them in the main house.  She said that she wanted to go too.  I didn't respond.  He said that maybe I didn't want her to go.  I didn't respond.  I jiggled my keys until it was clear that I couldn't go without them so I asked if they wanted to go and they jumped up and got in the car.  They did not leave my side except for sleeping during their entire visit except on one occasion when I had to get away from them.  I locked my bedroom door and locked my desk, and just told them I was leaving and ran out the door.  When I returned, I found them going through some personal papers I had neglected to put away.

They wanted to go shopping so I took them to Kmart, which is where they wanted to go.  She was looking for canning jars, as it turned out, and one of the sales clerks told her where she could get them and she told me to take her there.  Foolishly, I did, and sat in the car while they went into the Dollar Store for the jars.  She said they were much cheaper than at home--not for me, however, since it was my car and my gas.

I had lunch planned and was preparing it when she announced she wanted her leftovers from the last meal.  I told her that I had planned something else, but if she didn't like it, she could eat leftovers.  She ate what I had planned.

Every night, more ice in the wine.  Every night climbing over the dog bed.  I didn't even consider eating in my dining room as I  didn't really know if my silver would be safe from these strangers.

Every morning,  fully dressed, they would wait for me,  peering in my kitchen window.  Not once did they make their own coffee or tea.

The day of departure finally arrived.  She said to Harry, "She doesn't want us to go any more than we want to go."  I wanted to say, "Oh, yes she does," but didn't say anything as they discussed  plans to return soon.

She reminded me that I must  wash and return the covers to the sofas before I picked up the dogs, like I hadn't been doing that for years.

She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to get someone to clean my house "From one end to the other."  I asked her if she meant my house was dirty, but she just recommended "Merry Maids.  My house is not dirty.  It was cleaned thoroughly before they came.

They have called me 38 times (according to the caller ID) during the past month.  I do not answer the telephone.  I do not wish to talk to them  as I fear they want to come back and I will never again have them as houseguests.  In fact, I hope never to see them again.



I have a guest from hell story, but it needs some background.  I was close friends with a woman I’ll call Maisy for ten years when we both lived in the same city, “Bordertown”.  We both fantasized about moving to “Nicer City” about 4 hours away.  Maisy is the sort that makes grandiose plans and never carries them out.  She also has two daughters who became unwed mothers in their early teens (making her a 35 year old grandma), although one of them actually married the father later.  Her life is a perpetual soap opera, and for ten years I provided a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on, even though whenever I tried to get the same support from her she’d either ignore me or snap, “why is this my problem?”  I let it slide, as I usually can deal with my life without sturm and drang.

Finally I took the leap and moved to Nicer City.  My first year here, Maisy visited me once.  I visited her three times.  Maisy made her second trek to Nicer City after I’d lived here four years!  And she came because she was on her way to “Trendy City” to get a huge, fancy tattoo made (so big it’ll take many treatments over a lot of months) and needed a free place to stay.  Okay, I felt a little used, but I really missed her.  She brings a friend with her, I have a futon the friend can sleep on as well as a guest bed.  We have a very few hours together before bedtime, and next day she’s going on to the tattoo place.  Maisy loves pot, and she’s sitting in my living room and pulls out a joint the size of a cigar, and does her usual “You have to have some” routine even though I don’t care for the stuff.  I didn’t.

Several months later, a three day weekend is coming up.  Maisy has been making regular treks past me to Trendy City to get her tattoo worked on.  She calls and suggests we spend the entire three-day weekend together, and I’m thrilled.  I want to show her all the neat stuff in Nicer City.  We end the call before we decide whether she’ll drive up Friday Night or Saturday Morning.  Maisy tells me she’ll call me later to tell me.

She doesn’t.  I keep trying to call her, I keep not getting her.  I leave messages.  Meantime I cancel something I had planned for that weekend, and turn down several offers of fun stuff.  The one thing I don’t reschedule is my Dungeons and Dragons group that meets for 4 hours Sunday afternoons at my house, because I know she’d get a kick out of a session.  One thing she always wanted to do was try playing it.

Friday night of the 3-day weekend I get her on the phone.  “Well,” I say, “I guess you’re driving up tomorrow.  What time do you think you’ll be here?”  Maisy says, “Oh, my daughter’s next baby is due any day now and I don’t want to spend that much time away from her.  But, I’m going for my tattoo appointment in Trendy City, so you could meet me for a couple hours there on Sunday.”

I lost it.  How long did she know this daughter’s baby was due?  At least six months!  When does she tell me she’s not going to be here for our planned weekend?  The night she was supposed to arrive!  But she can still make her tattoo appointment, a six-hour drive each way from her house!  I lost it.  I snapped, “It would have been nice to know you weren’t coming a bit earlier, because I turned down a lot of fun things to have time to spend with you.  As it happens, the one thing I didn’t turn down occurs at the exact time you can spare me a couple hours, and I can’t cancel it this late because it’s at my house.  So I guess we won’t be doing anything this weekend after all.”

That was three years ago, and I haven’t heard one word from her since.  Not birthdays, not Christmases, not for my recent wedding, which I sent an announcement about (it was tiny and we only invited a handful of very close people – and I hadn’t heard from her in 3 years).  I’ve sent her Christmas and Birthday cards before, but I won’t be sending them this year.

So now, after all these years, I know what her friendship amounted to: I was a convenience to be used as needed.



If any of you get the desire to research your family tree, read this entry and proceed with caution.  My father and his brother, both in their seventies, had recently decided to try to piece as much of their genealogy as possible.  My father and his brother would spend hours together examining old photographs and trying to figure out who was who.    In 2000, a lucky break occurred when a distant relative from North Carolina called, a lady both men had never met, and announced that, she too, had been working on the family tree.  This lady, Clarabelle, was their great aunt’s granddaughter.  

Over the phone, my father was able to get a clear picture of exactly how she was related, and was quite interested in what information she had gathered.  She called two or three times over the summer with updates, nothing exceptionally important, but nice little pieces of information, nonetheless.  She had started this project with her son as a way to get introduced to the computer.  She was living in North Carolina with her daughter and that she had one son in Kansas and one in San Francisco.  She was planning a trip to visit her son in Kansas in the winter and would more than likely have the chance to stop by with all of her ancestry findings.  We all thought this would be a great opportunity for Dad and Uncle to finally have some questions answered.    

As a return for all of the anticipated information that would be coming our way, I told Clarabelle that I would be happy to gather some names and burial dates of members of the other side of her family at a few cemeteries not to far from our home.  Mom and I spent all day with this but we didn’t mind.  What a small price to pay for information!   Later in the summer, her son called one evening to introduce himself.  We hit it off right away and we corresponded several times.  He was comfortable enough with me to discuss his lifestyle and some problems that he was having with his companion.  I have a degree in counseling so I am comfortable with this and have always been happy to listen to people.  

Anyway, Clarabelle called in late fall and announced that she would be stopping through our state on the way to Kansas and would be able to stay a few days.  Dad and Uncle decided that they would share her visit and she would stay a few days with each.  Her son in SF emailed to let me know when she would be on her way and that he appreciated our hospitality.  He said that “she could be a handful.”  We both had a good chuckle and shared some funny stories about our parents.    

Here is where the story takes a bad turn. Clarabelle announced that she would have to be picked up at KCI because she said that her daughter forbade her to take a Greyhound to the town nearest my parent’s home.  This meant that Dad and Uncle had to travel to Kansas City (2 ½ hours away) in freezing rain to retrieve her.  After they picked her up at the airport, Dad and Uncle both mentioned that they were planning to stop for a quick bite at an Arby’s.  Clarabelle was agreeable to this and when she placed her order, she quickly stepped back from the line, obviously letting one of the men pay.  Now, Dad is always trying to pay for someone else’s lunch and would have insisted to begin with.  The men were both amused, though, when she was so obvious about it.  

Next, Clarabelle was to stay for three days at Uncle and Aunt’s house and two days with Mom and Dad.  At the end of the visit her son was to drive from Kansas and get her.  The second night of the visit, a huge snowstorm blew into the area, dumping several inches of snow and preventing any unnecessary travel.  Mom called Aunt and told her that she had no idea how my Dad would be able to retrieve Clarabelle.  Even if he could, if the snow continued, her son would not be able to get her—my parents live in a very hilly area.  Aunt told Mom that it probably wouldn’t matter, because Uncle was probably going to murder her before then anyway.  She continued by saying that she could not talk much longer as Clarabelle would be awaking from her nap soon.  She finished by saying that Mom and Dad would owe them for the rest of their lives.  Dad took this as a cue to get over there and investigate.  

We put the truck into four wheel drive and started out.   This was the one and only time I had met Clarabelle.  I had spoken on the phone to her a few times—she seemed a very genteel, well mannered southern lady.  Not the woman I met in person.  This woman was a troll.  She was loud.  She was getting on my aunt and uncle’s last nerves.  They raised seven kids and were used to hustle and bustle and noise.  They love company but they were rapidly growing to despise her.  First, since it was snowing, she could not get out to some cemeteries, so she pouted like a child.  Second, before the snowstorm was to hit, she and my aunt went to Wal Mart to grab some necessities.  She hinted to Aunt to buy her a camera.  Aunt refused.  Clarabelle pouted.  Next, she ate all the time and never once helped Aunt clear a table or offer to do the dishes.  Aunt had insisted that Clarabelle take their bedroom because it had a king-sized bed.  She holed up in there for hours at a time. When we arrived at the house, she was friendly enough, showing me photos of her family and telling me all about her children’s personal problems.  I listened politely but when I asked her about her genealogy material, she produced a bunch of stuff that had nothing to do with anyone ever living in our state.  When she bent over to place the items back in her suitcase, she broke wind quite loudly.  Not by accident, I would say, because she grunted rather emphatically when she stood up.  No “excuse me” either.  Uncle is a retired dairy farmer so he is used to being around cows and methane but he just sat there looking disgusted.  Aunt and Dad were trying to control their silent hysterics. 

 Later, Aunt revealed that Clarabelle sounded like a brass band most of the day and never said “excuse me.”  Lovely.   The snowstorm was picking up again, so Dad that we had better get back.  I remembered to present Clarabelle with a large, festive bag of jellies, apple butter, and homemade Christmas candy that my mother had sent (Mom felt it best to stay away).  Clarabelle grabbed it from me with nary a “thank you.”  I figured after witnessing her flatulence display that courtesy was not her strong suit.    

Clarabelle’s son picked her up the next day, a Sunday.  Aunt and Uncle chose not to go to church that morning because they were afraid that Clarabelle would decide to perform a “French horn” recital for the congregation.  She did, however, suggest that Uncle and Aunt take her to the nearby restaurant for lunch—as she “would be leaving soon.”  They agreed to this—they were so elated that she was leaving.  

When her son arrived, Clarabelle practically ran out of the house with her suitcases and bag of my Mom’s goodies and hopped into her son’s van without a “thank you” of any kind.  Fine.  At least she was leaving.  Aunt noticed that her son seemed rather put out at his mother.  He gave Aunt and Uncle a brief greeting, quickly introduced his wife and children and then appeared to be preparing himself for one long ride home.  As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, Aunt called Mom to reiterate that my parents owed them “big time”.  Aunt called my mom daily for several days following the visit, each time with some new Clarabelle antic that she had forgotten to share. H

however, as the weeks went by, Aunt realized that from the bedroom that Margaret had stayed, a diamond necklace, a new set of expensive towels, and a new leather travel case were missing.  Apparently, Clarabelle had done a little Christmas shopping while she was there. No wonder she was in such a hurry to leave that day.   Also, on the following month’s phone bill, Aunt noticed that Clarabelle had made several out-of-state phone calls while she was supposedly napping.  Unfortunately, her son from SF still continued to call me but I was so embarrassed for him that I never mentioned his mother’s visit.  

And yes…. Clarabelle did call about a year later.  She mentioned that she would be traveling through the state again and would drop by for a visit.  Aunt and Uncle told her that my parents and they were moving to Texas. 



One of my friends from college, we’ll call him Joe, was always pretty out of touch with etiquette. He was the youngest of five children and the only boy, so I think he got treated like the little prince, and never had to ask, say please/thank you, wait his turn, those kinds of things.

After we had graduated, Joe called me a few times out of the blue. Every time he called it involved something he had to do in my area (we lived on opposite sides of the state) and it required an overnight stay. I caught on pretty quickly, and would offer him a place to stay before he outright asked. One time, however, was the last straw.

Joe had a singing gig with a “barbershop singing group” in a nearby state (I live right near the border). This was a big regional competition. The rehearsal was late one night, and the competition early the next morning. Sure, Joe, you can stay. At this time I was renting my living space off my parents (funds were tight), but we had a guest room, so all was well. Joe invited me to come to the gig “as his guest”.

The night of the rehearsal Joe shows up, dumps his stuff in the guest room and says we need to go to the rehearsal. No hello to my folks (who only own the house!), and nothing resembling a “thanks for letting me stay here”. Okay, so he’s tired from the drive and nervous about being late. We left.

Joe’s driving skills, to be polite, are scary. I told him I would drive. It also made sense for him to be the navigator while I worried about those pesky little stoplights and yield signs. We were approaching the bridge to the next state over. (We had to cross the border into the state west of us, and then cross into the state south of that per his directions, actually a short trip since I am situated near the tristate borders. One toll per round trip.) The bridge toll is three dollars. As we get closer and closer, he doesn't make any move to get out his wallet. When I put my window down and he still never even thought to offer to pay the toll to his gig. I just paid the three bucks so we wouldn’t hold up traffic. I mean, three dollars? Not the end of the world.

We got to his rehearsal, and I sat very patiently listening to them sing their songs. When he said “Barbershop group” I pictured a quartet. And when he said regional competition, I pictured three guys winging it if he couldn’t make it. I was wrong. There were about forty guys, and over ten had not come because it was too far away. The competition was not even for their region. So they could sing and get judged and receive feedback on what they needed to improve, but this was not for a real score; it did not count towards their regional standing. So the whole thing is actually one big rehearsal? Color me stupid.

Rehearsal ended and we went back to my place (no toll back into my state). Again, no words to my folks, nothing except that he needs to sleep for tomorrow’s gig. Okay, fine. The next morning we got up. My mom made breakfast. He ate the food, never said good morning to her or my father, never said thank you, just said we had to go.

So there we are approaching that bridge...again. As we got closer I finally said, “I hope you have three dollars for the bridge toll.”

His reply, “Cause you aren’t gonna pay it?”

My reply, “Because I paid it last night, and I wouldn’t even be going over the bridge except for your gig! Now cough it up.” He did.

The am rehearsal went fine, and then we get in the car to go to the competition site a few miles away form the rehearsal. He chose that moment to inform me that admission was twenty-five dollars. My jaw hit the car floor. He had invited me “as his guest” (his exact words) and to find out I should pay 25 dollars after hauling his bum around three states (twice), almost getting stuck with both bridge tolls, putting him up overnight free, and feeding him was IT. I told him I’d wait in the car for him. (I was tempted to just leave him there and go home, but I couldn’t.) He whined about wanting me to hear him sing, and I informed him that I had heard him at both rehearsals, now go inside and I’ll be in the parking lot when he’s done. He offered to buy me lunch if I came in (Whoopty-doo! After all that, he should have anyway!) and I just pointed for him to go.

We did stop for lunch at a diner on the way back, and I chose to pay my portion rather than try to get him to. The sandwich was a small price to pay for being able to write him out of my life thereafter without the “I bought you lunch” hanging over my head. When he left, my folks told me he was the only friend of mine no longer welcome in their home, based on his blatant rudeness to both of them. (No thank you, no goodbye, they’d have settled for a wave at that point. Nothing.) I corrected them, he was my ACQUAINTANCE that was no longer welcome in their, or my, living area anymore, because he was not a friend of mine any longer. Since then I have avoided his calls. Not difficult, since he only ever called when he wanted a favor.



My husbands aunt, we will call her AIL, has been married for over 35 yrs but is childless by choice. She is completely eccentric, a severe kleptomaniac, has a massive superiority complex and drives her poor husband up the wall at time even though he is too sweet to say anything but just bears it. 

We had bought  $1 alarm clocks from IKEA and kept one in each of hour three guest rooms, nothing fancy, just something the guests can look at for time and if they want to set the alarm. She came to visit us once and then when it was time to leave, I with my two small kids walked with her to the front door to wave goodbye. 

And we suddenly heard the distinct sound of an alarm going off. AIL, all this while, was kissing the kids and saying "bye", but the moment the alarm went off, suddenly became very brisk and rushed up her goodbyes. She literally ran out of the door, threw her suitcase into the trunk of the car, ran around to the driver seat, got in and closed the door, with the beeping alarm clock following her through. Finally, when she closed the door the sound got muted and I realized that she had put the alarm clock into her purse, and not in her suitcase like I had thought…

And this is the woman whose husband is a partner for this major IT firm, and she buys $30K diamonds on a whim while on a trip to the UK.

Every time she would visit me, she would make it a point of wearing this favorite pair of black shoes of mine, insisting the entire time that this could not possibly fit me. It was funny how that pair went missing after she went back home after one particular visit.

I love buying nice dishes and bowls, and once while having dinner she picked up a pasta bowl, turned it over, looked at the name and then said 'it is clear that we live in the outlet capital since everything in my house is from the outlets" assuming that we would not go to a regular store to buy stuff.

By the time she moved back to her part of the country ( she and her husband had tried to stay in our side but it turned out she was too much too urban to deal with the South) I was missing three pairs of shoes, and a favorite skirt, strainers and other stuff. My mother in law went to help pack some of the stuff and saw the alarm clock in her bedroom. AIL also made sure she stayed in the bedroom and packed her shoes in there while MIL waited out in the living room.

She would go shopping with us, put a whole lot of stuff in the cart, take it out on the conveyor belt and right when the cashier would ring up the charges, she would disappear to look for something else. After paying for her stuff the first few times, the next time, my husband called out to her as she was making her disappearing act, telling her if she did not want the stuff he will put it right back…that made her stay…quite annoyed though.

There are so many stories of her, she is like a family joke…



 I had been talking to a man, we'll call David, for three years.  He lives several hours away from me and we had met a few times in the beginning of the three years when we flew to visit each other, maybe three times.  I had a very hard time with the distance and did not pursue a relationship with him romantically. We talked and e-mailed and IM-ed the whole three years.  Finally I decided it was time to see each other again.  I mean, if he really loves me after all this time then maybe there is something real there.  I drove over six hours to see him.  

When I arrived, have gave me a hug and proceeded to talk on the phone and text the entire night.  He took several "private" phone calls upstairs while leaving me in the living room alone.  I had had enough and went to bed. He said he couldn't come with me because the show he was watching was on cable and he didn't have cable in his bedroom.  I found out the next day that he did have cable in his bedroom when I turned it on.  

I got in the shower the next morning and he went to the mall to get a new hat.  Then he proceeded to play video games with his friends (he's 36 years old).  I quietly read while they played waiting for my nightmare to be over.  We went to a party where I found him later in the passenger seat of a parked car leaning towards the female that was in the drivers seat, the same female he spoke to more at the party than me. He swore up and down he did not have a girlfriend.  We finally went home.  

It was myself, David and his friend Matt.  David said he and Matt were going to get food and I went to bed.  About 15 minutes went by and I went downstairs to find Matt asleep on the couch.  I called David's cell phone and he said he was getting food.  Who really knows where he was.  I was so tired that I just fell asleep.  The next day I set my alarm for 7:am. When it went off I reset it for 7:30 and told David he had 30 minutes left with me.  About 20 minutes in, he got on the phone.  I toke a shower and left so fast he didn't even have time to get out of bed.  Is this etiquette or just men's behavior?  




My story is begins in the Southern US after one of the recent hurricanes. Like many folks who live in this area, my husband and I bought a 'giant' generator after storms in years past left us without power for weeks on end. So this year, when Hurricane Wilma hit, we were one of the fortunate families who were able to power up our entire house. We live in a semi-rural area with well water, and power is necessary in order to flush the toilet or brush your teeth. 

On the 2nd day after the storm hit, a former co-worker of mine called and asked if he, his wife, 5 month old baby and non-English speaking mother-in-law could come stay at our house as the baby is being bottle fed breast milk and the mother needed to pump and heat up the milk. Of course I said yes, and was glad for the distraction in a time of great stress and trepidation. Well, they show up later that day-having left the mother-in-law at home to fend for herself (that should have been a sign of what kind of people they are). 

My husband and I have 3 dogs, and my co-worker was well aware of this fact because my former desk was peppered with pictures of said dogs. Well, turns out these folks don't like noise around the baby-especially barking dogs. Our dogs aren't excessive barkers, but it is their job to warn us of things they can hear or see that we don't, and once we are aware they stop. However, this was too much noise so the dogs spent most of the time outside (these are very spoiled, inside dogs) or locked in a room to keep the noise at bay. Okay, I have never raised a child so who am I to criticize? 

Next, I offer to hold the the 6 days they were with us, I was only permitted to hold him for about 5 minutes-no exaggeration, simply a fact. The one time I did hold him, I let him bounce on my legs only to be told you can't let a baby do is bad for their muscle development! Everyone I have spoken to me told that is not true-including my neighbor who is a Pre-Natal/Lactation Consultant. However, like I said, I have not raised a child and not my place to criticize. But they complained constantly that raising a baby is such hard work, and yet here were my husband and I who love kids and we offered to hold the baby and yet we were turned down. I shower, don't smoke and don't smell funky so I don't know what the issue is. 

Next, we have to keep the TV off because they have read somewhere that it puts a strain on the baby's eyes and could result in poor muscle development. Fine, then keep him out of my living room (I didn't mention that we gave them our Master Bedroom because it had more room and a separate bathroom-and the only other TV in our house). Really though, it was so bad, just very quiet and awkward but not horrible.

Well, the hurricane hit on Monday, and by Friday most of our neighbors had taken at least one shower at someone's house with a generator, but very few had a hot meal or something decent to eat. Another neighbor with the same generator as us and me decided to have a neighborhood barbeque the next day, as a way of showing the world we as a neighborhood were surviving. 

Well, my neighbor was supposed to have this shindig at their house, but as luck would have it their washing machine died from being used while hooked up to the generator (they don't provide a steady stream of power and pulse and can blow out appliances with a surge). So, this neighbor had to go out and buy a new washer since they were mid wash of a load of towels and sheets, and therefore we have to change plans last minute-all the while my stomach was in knots over the fact that my houseguests liked silence for their baby and I am introducing lots of noise, but what can I do-the food is prepared and the neighbors invited? 

We move the party to my yard and things were going well (I was a basket case of nerves because of the noise affecting my houseguests), but by the time darkness fell folks were still eating and coming over. Now, I had spent the better part of 2 days cooking and preparing for this party, knowing I was fortunate enough to have a stove, microwave and just power in general, so my houseguests knew this party was going on. But with darkness and mosquitoes, my husband invites the neighbors inside. We stay relatively quiet, sitting around the living room watching TV and talking, while my houseguests stayed in the master bedroom with the baby. Not once did I hear a cry or peep from the baby and trust me I was listening. 

Finally everyone left at 9:30-not too late considering they were all going home to darkened houses, and I start cleaning up. About 30 minutes later the father of the baby emerges from his room, and I ask if I have woken him up. He states, very unkindly, "NOT THIS TIME". I apologize and he walks away from me. I try again to apologize to him, and he refuses to speak to me. Excuse me, one night out of this baby's life of noise isn't going to kill him. And besides, the parents kept using the words 'Angry' and Pissed Off' to describe this wonderful, sweet and happy baby-every time he moved or squawked the words Angry and Pissed Off came out. I never knew a 5 month old, even a colicky, upset one to be angry or pissed off. Instead, I think they were projecting their feelings on him, but again-not my child.

The husband goes outside to use his cell phone (did I mention we didn't even have phone service in our house because of the storm?) and I go to bed, leaving my husband up with him. He comes back, and asks my husband to drive him around looking for their own generator the next day so they can go home. Also, they said the barking of the dogs 'raised the bab's heart rate and they need to get home to "quiet". Mind you, they live in a sub-division and have been in a year long battle with one of their neighbors who has a dog that barks occasionally throughout the day-and they want the dog removed from the neighborhood!!! 

My husband agrees to help with the generator, if only to get them out of our house. Now, almost every day of this week my husband and I went and stood in line for gas for about 3 hours each day, we served them our food which we bought before the storm, and cooked and cleaned up after them. So its not like they have it tough at our house, and gas is not easy to come by so this 'favor' of my husband requires much more than in normal times. 

However, the next day they go out for about 3 hours, get a generator, gas cans, gas, etc. Now, they want us to drive it down to their house, over an hour away, because we have a trailer and they don't have room in their car!!! My husband, kind man that he is, agrees to this to get them out of our house and because he can see that I am about to cry with the stress and worry of having insulted our guests. Now, the wife hasn't spoken to me one word since the night before and won't even look at me. It is not as if I had planned to have a party in my house, but even is MY HOUSE!!!! So what if the baby didn't get to sleep at 8 and instead got to sleep at 10-if that even happened. It was post hurricane and things were not normal at all for anyone!!! So we drive them down to their house, and the wife runs into the house with the baby and refuses to look at or speak to me and my husband. The husband unloads the car and also doesn't say a word to if I violated them with the previous evenings noise. My husband says goodbye, and we leave.

I think all is over, and I am just glad I don't work with this person anymore when a week and a half later, he calls me up and starts chatting. I think, okay...I hate conflict and I can handle the occasional phone call. Instead, at the end of the conversation he asks if they can borrow our generator!!! He bought the same one and wants us to schlep ours down to his house so he can hook it up and make sure it works!!! Listen, you saw it run everything at my house-and we have a much bigger A/C unit than they do, so you know it works!!! When I say my husband is busy, he offers to rent a truck and come up to get it!!! The nerve...

Now listen, I know I allowed them to come stay at my house and they were my first priority, but that stupid party wasn't supposed to happen that way, and yet I have been treated terribly and made to feel guilty for trying to be generous. Again, I haven't had children but all of friends have children and they don't need total silence to sleep unless you teach them too...I can't imagine living in their house with no noise, no love and no respect for anything different. Instead they are going to end with one very 'Pissed Off' and 'Angry' child and I won't have to know about it-thank heavens the distance between our homes!!!



Just plain unhospitable:

This past 4th of July, my best friend invited my husband and I and some others to her friend, Pia's cottage in a nice beachside town. Pia agreed that she would like for all of us to come. My friend warned us that Pia tended to have her own rules about things but we decided that we would have fun despite her uptightness . Before we left, my best friend called to tell us that we had better bring our own sleeping arrangements including sheets and pillows. Otherwise, Pia would provide these on the condition that we wash them once the weekend was over. We packed up the car with our sleeping arrangements and beer and snacks for everyone to share. We figured it was the least we could do for Pia since she opened her home to us.

We arrive at the cottage late in the evening on a Friday as it was about 5 hours from our house. Pia of course was not waiting up but we found a note telling us that no shoes were to be worn in the cottage as well as an outline of activities for the next day. Though we were thirsty from the drive, our hostess did not provide any cold sodas or beer for her guests. The few cans of soda in the fridge were only for her to drink. She made it clear we would have to fend for ourselves. We could, however, help ourselves to the BRITA water provided we wash our glasses.

The next day Pia woke all of us up and told us we could all take a shower in her outside shower. However, the showers were to be no longer than 9 minutes each. She would be timing us. Pia and her cousin, meanwhile, would be showering inside the house.

The plan for the day was to get sandwiches for lunch and then go off to happy hour. Pia began timing us and rushing us out of the house an hour before happy hour. Her plan was for her and her cousin to take one car and the rest of us could all go together in another one. She really didn't care. My husband convinces her that we have room for everyone in one car and this is probably a better idea. She agrees but is not happy and gives us the silent treatment all afternoon. On the way home, when we are all hungry from drinking, we decide to go to dinner but since she was "in charge" she decided we could all go to Wendy's. No, we would not be going to any of the great local seafood restaurants. We were all too tired to argue.

She also told us that she wanted to go out later that evening and would love for us to come. Apparently, drinking all that beer had put her in a better mood. We told her we were tired but would think about it. Oh no. She opened beers and put them in front of us. After a half hour she rushed us out the door. We had to go NOW, she said, otherwise the opportunity would pass us by. NOW. I told her to wait one minute while I changed into pants. It literally took me one minute. By the time I was done, she was sulking and saying forget it, we waited too long and she was not going. So we went out and had a great time without her.

The next morning Pia woke all of us up with the message that a repairman was coming any minute. She had known about the appointment all morning but thought not to wake us. She also told us that she and her cousin wanted to go out by themselves and we could do whatever we wanted. Goodbye. Since this was our last day, we had to clean up our "mess"; throw out "our" beer bottles that she also drank from, re make our beds with new sheets, and wash the dishes.

I have never felt so unwelcome in anyone's home. The whole weekend was fraught with tension. Needless to say, my best friend and Pia have not spoken since.



 OK, I am a little concerned that I am the one with the warped sense of etiquette in this situation, but I must say I have never come across this before…  

Not too long after moving to London (from Australia) my partner and I were invited over to dinner by another couple (my partner worked briefly with the guy).  We gratefully accepted and politely insisted that they don’t go to too much trouble for us.  On the night of the dinner, we stop off and buy two (nice – not cheap and nasty) bottles of wine as I believe it is impolite to show up empty-handed.  We had offered to supply dessert however we were told that was not necessary, it would be taken care of.  So we arrive, bearing wine, and settle down to a nice, simple dinner and enjoy the company.  Dessert is supermarket-brand vanilla ice cream, however we are certainly not complaining and overall it is a pleasant evening.  

As we finish off helping with the dinner dishes, the couple then turn to us and tell us exactly what our share of the cost of the ingredients for dinner (and dessert – yes, the ice cream) is…split down to the last penny.  Now, my understanding is if you invite someone over for a meal, unless it is a “bring your own plate” kind of deal then it goes without saying that you are prepared to buy all the ingredients yourself.  The guests then do their part by bringing either wine, dessert (which we did offer to do and were told not to bother) or a small gift (chocolates or flowers etc) to show their appreciation for the effort the hosts had gone to.  

We were also planning to reciprocate the dinner invitation……however changed our minds after the grocery receipt was presented to us, calculations marked and demanding our share.  Stunned, we paid up (without making any deductions for the wine we had brought along with us), thinking maybe this was a UK custom or some modern rule of etiquette we had failed to become aware of.



I and my husband moved to a new city where we made friends with two couples " Mr. and Mrs. Sing" and "Mr. and Mrs. Gango". All was hunky-dory until we got invited to Mr. Sing's B'day party. About 15 people were invited to a "pricey" restaurant. We took an expensive Scotch as a present for Mr. Sing. All was well until the end when the waiters slipped each couple/family their food and beverage bill. Where we come from, if you invite friends over for a birthday party you foot the bill unless you specifically mention that each person will pay his/her own tab. Needless to say we were a bit aghast but paid up without appearing too hassled. My hubby couldn't believe what had happened and vowed never to attend any birthday parties with them.

Fast forward to another 6 months later when Mr. Gango decided to throw a surprise party for Mrs. Gango and invited us all to yet another very pricey location. By now we had got to know both couples better and deduced that the Gangos were more sensible than the Sings and ruled out the possibility of any such thing happening. We brought flowers and a nice gift for Mrs. Gango. The food and wine was great as expected (Mr. Sing went ahead and ordered the most expensive wines in the place for everyone!!). When the bill arrived Mr. Gango offered (somewhat hesitantly) to pay up but Mr. Sing refused saying that the bill was too much for one person to pay and besides his wife's (Mrs. Sing's) b'day was coming up and he didn't want to face the same dilemma by having Mr. Gango set such precedent. Mr. Gango happily backed out and we all ended up going Dutch. Hurt our pockets the most as I hadn't ordered any beverage (except one glass of wine) and had salad for dinner that night!!!!



My BF has a long time friend, who I’ll call Alfred.  They had known each other since high school and even went to college together and were housemates for some time.  The three of us attended the same college and obtained the same degree, although we didn’t meet until later.   I graduated on schedule and moved to my current city.  A couple of years later I met my now BF, who stayed to finish a graduate degree in the same school before moving to this city.  However, after 8 years Alfred was still struggling to finish his undergraduate degree.  Normally, he’s a nice, intelligent and hard-working guy, but according to BF, besides the couple of jobs he held while attending college, he had an Internet girlfriend with whom he chatted all night, so Alfred barely had time to study.   Alfred and BF’s friendship had lasted for years and even at long distance, they remained in contact; I wanted to meet Alfred since I was pleased that BF had such a great friend.   

Well, after 9 years Alfred obtained his undergraduate degree, and BF was willing to help him during this transition as needed.  To celebrate, Alfred starts a national road trip where he visits friends, his girlfriend, and the final stop is at my BF’s, where he finally arrives relaxed but broke shortly before the 4th of July.  BF accommodated him the best way he could, since he himself had graduated less than two years ago and had started from scratch, like me.  BF and I don’t live together so there was plenty of room for Alfred in the apartment.   

For a couple of weeks we entertained Alfred by taking him to museums, dinners, etc., and as his host, BF paid for Alfred’s expenses and when his birthday was approaching, I willingly contributed to the occasion with a small cake for the three of us.  In the meantime, Alfred searched online for employment.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t being successful; we started to see the consequences of spending 9 years in an undergrad degree and not even having a decent GPA to show for it.   Consequences that we would be paying along with him… 

Days turned into weeks, and my BF’s patience was wearing thin.  Alfred had turned into The Perpetual Guest (TPG) -the roommate that only receives and never contributes; the overgrown teenage son-, and my BF’s finances were suffering for it.  For instance, summers in our city are very hot and since Alfred was in the apartment all day, the AC unit was always ON and the already expensive electricity bill doubled.  BF and I had to limit our weekend outings or just sneak out without him because BF always had to pick the tab in all TPG’s expenses, as TPG looked forward to go out with us since he was so bored being by himself all week while we worked.  I suggested BF to convince TPG to go back to his hometown since his job search was completely online, and as far as I know, Internet is the same everywhere.  However, TPG was so broke that he didn’t even have money for an airplane ticket.  Now we are stuck with TPG, who has a prestigious diploma but no car, no job, no money and no one to go to in 2000 miles…  

TPG, being unemployed and broke started to show signs of melancholy, but instead of fight harder, he would sleep during the entire day, wake up for dinner, and spend the night with his laptop.  He paraded the apartment in his boxers, looking at us with puppy eyes.  We felt sorry for him, but BF and I were also very annoyed.  He is not an expendable acquaintance, but someone who BF considers part of his family, which made matters more difficult.  BF and I helped him search for job positions, career fairs, etc., but no luck.   (Note to men everywhere:  boxers are NOT shorts.  I don’t care if you’re wearing underwear underneath, if your shorts have a hole in the front, they aren’t shorts!)  That’s when BF started to ask TPG to get a part-time job in the meantime.  

During Labor Day’s weekend BF and I went on a trip to a city nearby and when got back, TPG had not applied for a part-time job because he “didn’t have time”.  Early on, BF had put TPG’s name in his car insurance policy (no extra cost) so that TPG could use his car to go to interviews, etc.  BF left his car to TPG that weekend, so that TPG had the means to go out.  In that moment, my enraged BF took TPG to all the retail stores he could find and made him apply for part-time jobs.  In less than two weeks TPG was working at a big electronics retail store and looked happier.  This job was only during the weekends, so TPG still had a lot of time for his full time job search.  He finally had a couple interviews but still no job.  With his new part-time job, TPG brought a small paycheck to the household and started to pay for electricity and water. 

My BF has a motorcycle, so he uses it to go to work while TPG stays at the apartment with a car available for him.  The first time TPG had to fill the gas tank, he basically threw the receipt to my BF’s face.  It’s my BF’s car, lend to TPG as a favor, the monthly payments and insurance paid by my BF; BF has being providing him a roof, food and entertainment, and all TPG does is try to get reimbursed for the $20 gasoline expense.  TPG and BF are the same age: 27 years old! BF has a cat and one day it had an “accident” but TPG preferred to smell the “aroma” and wait for BF to come back from work to clean it up.  I understand it’s not his cat, ...  But wait, TPG, we are NOT your parents, either, and we feed you anyway!

He’s got an appetite.  He can’t cook, but to his credit, NOW helps with the dishes and around the apartment.   BF and I cook from scratch as a hobby and don’t mind sharing, but have to control the portions because otherwise TPG would devour everything we cooked!    So, a meal that could last two days (for three persons) now lasts for only once, and the extra expense is accumulating.  One night he came from work and, thinking that he was starving, I told him there was food in the fridge.  He said: “Oh, now this over the pizza.”  The pizza?  He had just eaten pizza at work and instead of saving our food for the next day, he ate all of it!  And he wasn’t even hungry!  He almost “disappeared” the lasagna it took me hours to prepare with the same speed and appetite he shows for any cheap, frozen lasagna from the grocery store. No difference in enthusiasm.  No compliments.  Anything with marinara sauce and pasta would do it.  If there’s no milk or frozen meals (for himself while we are at work), he doesn’t take BF’s car to go to the grocery store and get some.  BF and I are the ones who go grocery shopping and then cook after work.  I am about to take him grocery shopping so that he understands that we are not living in a Star Trek era, where food is transported magically to the refrigerator and the pantry through “food replicators”.

BF is appalled at his friend’s attitude.  They were roommates during college and nothing like this ever happened.  I told BF that TPG needs a reality check.  When calculating the money he would make monthly when finding a full-time job, he forgot to subtract the taxes!  Yes, we make good money; yes, BF and I have no debt; yes, BF bought a motorcycle and will go on a ski trip.  But we are not doing all these things with someone else’s money, but with our hard-earned money.  Sometimes BF says he would like to buy something but starts shopping for the best price or decides to buy it later; then TPG says things like “but you have money”, or “you have no debt, what are you complaining about?” It makes my blood boil to see someone making such assumptions about someone else’s money.

It has being five months since TPG lives at my BF’s and recently has had job interviews, so it is possible that BF will get rid of this living “mortgage” before Christmas.  My hope is that he finds a job nearby so that he can pay his share of the expenses.  To his credit, he is a quiet guy who doesn’t even drink alcohol or bring strangers to the apartment, so if he could pay his own way he would make a good housemate.  Also, my Evil side wishes that he could find a great job VERY far away so that he can experience what it is to start from scratch. Oh, and that internet girlfriend of his is a single mom with a couple of kids; she didn’t go to college, which is not bad in itself but means that TPG will not only get an instant family but also have to be financially responsible for it.  Life is beautiful, after all. 

Well, *MY* evil side says you need to grow a spine and boot TPG out onto the street.   



I threw a party a few weeks ago and invited a friend from work, "Wesley", along with his wife, "Jane".   Wesley had recently told me that Jane was pregnant.  My parties tend to concentrate a fair bit on drinking - we have a very well-stocked bar.  But, because not everyone likes to drink, I always have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.  This, I thought, would work out well for Jane.  I was wrong.   

About half-an-hour after Wesley and Jane had arrived, I suddenly noticed that Jane was missing.  I asked Wesley where she was.  

"Oh, she went to (the local grocery store) to get something to drink."  

"Huh?  We have TONS of stuff to drink!"  

"Well, yeah," said Wesley, enunciating carefully as though to a three-year-old, "but she can't drink any of that.  She's pregnant."    

Getting angry (I'd had two kids myself, and I didn't need lessons on what a pregnant woman should and shouldn't do, thank you), I said "We've got lots of other drinks."  

"She doesn't like pop."  

Wordlessly (because I didn't trust myself to speak), I pointed to the very prominent display of several different types of fruit juice.  Plus, I'd announced earlier in the evening that we had milk and bottled water for anyone who'd like it.    Wesley just shrugged and said, "She wanted something different."   True enough - when Jane got back, she was holding one of those Sobee's energy drinks, which we didn't have.  Even so, I thought her behavior unforgivably rude.


Page Last Updated May 15, 2007