They're back: The house guests from hell

July 13, 2011

Judging by the traffic, it seems like a lot of folks had company over the Fourth of July weekend. And we love our visitors. But it appears as if holiday weekends bring a different kind of house guest.

Think I’m kidding? When the House Guests from Hell arrive, take one look at your place and say, “Interesting. Who decorated your house, street gangs?” you know you are in for the long haul.

Everyone from distant cousins you haven’t spoken to for the last 20 years because of  something to do with a burnt hot dog, to a lady you met in line at the women’s restroom at an oasis on the New Jersey Turnpike will descend upon your abode on a hot, humid summer holiday weekend. You may as well write it in your diary.

I’ve actually woken up to see a strange man in his boxer shorts and a T-shirt putting glasses in my dishwasher. It was really frightening. Not the stranger, although I must say anyone wearing milk-white skin and a bathing cap is a little different, but the fact that a grown man actually knew enough to open the dishwasher door and place an item in the machine was terrifying.

My husband’s idea of using the dishwasher is to carefully place the used dinnerware on top of the dishwasher; that is so it won’t fall off when his wife has to open the door and put the items away. Very thoughtful, I must say.

The sudden appearance of people you don’t know is so common now that we’ve had visitors stay at our house for weeks. Sure, they were strangers in the beginning, but some of them ended up as beneficiaries in our wills and inherited whole lines of sterling silver. Of course, eventually we found out that they were really supposed to be guests of the next-door neighbors.

But I really think it is a different kind of House Guest from Hell on a holiday weekend. I don’t know if we are just unprepared for company or some alien form of mutation just got sick of being on its own planet and migrated here to get caught in rip tides and stung by powerful motor boats that they mistake for some form of human or animal. You have to admit you see a lot of them lugging lawn chairs down by the fireworks display.

Those of us who live here year-round have become territorial about our stuff, and we don’t like it messed with when guests arrive. For instance, I happen to have the largest collection of nonworking remote control devices in the country. I could start a museum with what I have collected. The useless remote control devices sit behind my television collecting enough dust to start another planet.

And yet, when I have company, I will frequently find these precious devices on the coffee table, right next to a bottle of vodka. Because of the constant pointing and banging, trying to make them work, none of the TVs in the house will be working for the next month, along with my neighbor’s pacemaker.

And you know what that means. Yes, a call to the dreaded cable company. And with the recent change-over to digital, the average wait for a technician is around 24 months, or in alien terms, when pigs fly at 300 light years. If you choose to wait it out, you will know every lyric to the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree,” and an entire medley of Wayne Newton songs.

So have a little sympathy. If you see one of your friends running around town, looking like he’s just come from a scavenger hunt, he or she has probably just finished a week with the House Guests from Hell. Let him have that parking space. Let him cut in front of you with 12 items in the 10-item-only line. Okay, it probably will be me, but it still counts. And so the summer goes.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.