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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Terrorist Houseguests


Summer has always been my favorite season in Florida. The tourists are gone. The roads are less congested. The pool is warm and relaxing. But most of all, it’s the time of year those tundra-bound winter houseguests make themselves scarce.

When I visit out of town friends and family, I am the anti-guest. Often when I visit someone, I get put to work. I once spent a good day of my vacation cleaning my sister’s gutters and re-flashing her chimney. During my well-earned time off, I have backed up, reformatted, and reinstalled software on hard drives, fixed non-working printers and faxes, removed wedding rings from P-traps, and packed in-laws to move. Okay, maybe I’m being taken advantage of, but whenever I visited my aunt in Denver during the summer, I was always given chores to “earn my keep,” as she said. It was always a fair price to pay for a two-month vacation in the mountains. This is my idea of being a sport. Everyone I know, however, is a bad sport.

I am not an ungenerous person. Mi casa es Sue’s casa when Sue comes to visit. Sue is a full figure girl and more than two tons of fun, and I love her like a sister. But I dread her every visit. Something inevitably gets broken.

Before Sue’s gastric bypass surgery, she was well into the high 300’s, which was her weight as well as her diastolic reading. We had these director-chair-style barstools with a canvas seat and back. While adjusting her ample buttocks one morning during what was apparently a pancake-eating contest with herself, Sue got wedged into the legs of the chair after the canvas seat split right down the middle.

“The fabric must have been weak,” she told me. So after she left, I made double-reinforced canvas seat bottoms that were a different color than their backs. Ugly, but durable.

The score now is: Sue, pushing 400 pounds. Me, four repaired chairs and several hours in front of the sewing machine.

On her second visit, it was warm enough to go swimming. Sue donned her swim suit and plunged into the pool and paddled around and played. But then it was time to get out and dry off. And of course, go eat.

Regrettably, the pool had no steps. We were probably violating all kinds of insurance mandates, but no one we knew had problems pulling themselves up out of the shallow end. Everyone except Sue, that is. She tried all sorts of methods. The push-up. The back-up. The running start. Feet first. Nothing worked, including me getting underneath her and pushing until something went “pop” in my back. I finally got some cinder blocks and stacked them so she could climb out.

The score now is: Sue, 400 pounds. Me, one herniated disk and four unattractive chairs.

So after the gastric bypass, Sue once again visited. Apparently at her house, Sue is blessed with a turbo-flush toilet that will rocket her feminine hygiene products into the nearest waste treatment facility. We, unfortunately, have a conventional toilet, and her personal paper products stopped moving somewhere in between the toilet and the septic tank.

The score now is: Sue, 200 pounds. Me, $150 plumbing bill, broken back, ugly chairs.

The next visit I figured we were safe. She had been given the tampon lecture, which must have embarrassed her so much that she failed to reimburse me for the plumber. She was down to 180 pounds, but that did not prevent a beach chair from buckling underneath her.

The score now is: Sue, 180 pounds. Me, sitting on a towel with a herniated disk, still down $140 after the chairs sold at a yard sale for ten bucks.

Sue is not the only houseguest to jackhammer away her welcome. Here are more examples.

· In-laws who didn’t like the way my living room was arranged, so they pushed a heavy easy chair to the other side of the room, gouging a crevice in the newly-refinished oak floor. After seeing that crevasse in the floor, people frequently asked if my house sat on a fault line.

· More in-laws who found leaving their dog at a kennel “inconvenient.” The dog was known for running around the house carrying in its mouth used feminine hygiene products excavated from the bathroom waste basket. Where was this dog when Sue had visited during her sloughing-off event?

· A pool party where friends, without asking, invited friends of friends of friends. The next morning we discovered broken beer bottles in the bottom of the pool and a condom in the skimmer basket. As if chlorine alone wasn’t an efficient spermicide.

· A mother who accidentally dropped a new red t-shirt in the washer with the whites, resulting in my wearing pink underwear for two years. On the bright side, I got more looks in the gym locker room than ever before.

· Vegetarians who got offended when I told them they could either enjoy the delicious celery meals I would provide or else bring their own Space Food Sticks or whatever it was they ate.

· Visitors who left the back gate open, causing my former dog to be mauled by the next-chow-neighbor. That resulted in a 2-day hospital stay, wounds with drains in them, dozens of stitches, and my hating chows for the rest of my life.

My new dog is very territorial. If the door to the guest bedroom is not shut at all times, she considers it her duty to go and pee in a guest’s suitcase or on any guest’s clothing left on the floor. Although not aggressive, she is very spirited and likes to play a little on the rough side. She’s not had the chance yet, but she is very capable of knocking elderly, floor-gouging in-laws off their feet, thus prompting them to seek the comfort of a hotel room.

Because of her, I have hopes that the score will soon be: Houseguests: Zero. Obnoxious Dog: One.

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