“My name is Ruby, and I eat the Christmas joy of others.”
“I sit and stare at people blankly, making them extremely uncomfortable.”

’Tis the season: people travel, and houseguests—welcome, or not—can be annoying. Now, I recognize that some annoyances can be avoided if you have a big house and/or household help. But for the rest of us, an extended visit can be a trying time in ways big and small.

Space Invasion

“I went into my mom’s purse while she was asleep, ate a tube of bright red lipstick, and chewed up three $1 bills.”
“I ate all the lights off the Christmas tree!!! -Dusk”
  • Your housepest leaves shoes or boots in public, trip-hazard places.
  • Outerwear overflows the closet.
  • Hats, gloves, scarves, keys, etc., are left on kitchen counters otherwise used for cooking.
  • Your favorite chair is otherwise occupied!
  • Shod feet end up on coffee tables, chairs, or sofas.
  • Your housepest insists on helping when it would be so much easier to just do it yourself!
  • Dirty dishes make it as far as the kitchen sink but never into the dishwasher.
  • A housepest sleeping on the sofa can effectively dictate when you’re allowed in your own living room.


“I was mad that they trimmed my nails, so I pulled the buttons off the remote to Dad’s new TV… They still can’t find the 3. =)”
“My name is Ruby, and today I made it a goal to loot my humans’ laundry basket, steal every dirty sock, and RANDOMLY hide them all overour apartment.”
  • You like a quiet house until time for a drink and the evening news. Your housepest turns on the TV for daytime game shows and soap operas.
  • You try to watch TV with a channel-surfer who tunes away for every commercial, only to encounter commercials on other channels, eventually switching back to the original program, often having stayed away too long.
  • You prefer PBS, news, and nature programs and your pest prefers sports, comedy, and reality TV—or vice versa!

Sound Pollution

I’ve been screaming all morning”
“I ate the gingerbread house, and my mom called Santa!“!”
  • Your housepest turns on the TV, radio, etc., and leaves the room to shower or whatever without turning it off.
  • Your housepest talks over whatever else is going on—e.g., while you are watching TV or carrying on a conversation. 
  • You are spending time with a person who talks at great length and volume while saying little, especially annoying if the monologue is on repeat.


“I’m not allowed on this couch… but I’m cute so the rules don’t apply to me… right? -Tula”
“I got hungry, so I ate all the fish food. Then I wanted to feel pretty, so I ate your new lip gloss.”
  • A pest arrives with too few clothes for the visit and presumes you can fill in any gaps for sweatshirts, socks, or pajamas.
    • And/or your housepest arrives with dirty laundry for you to handle—and this is not your own kid home from college!
  • After you mention what you are currently reading, your current read is confiscated for the entertainment/education of the pest.
  • Your housepest dons any jewelry or accessories not currently being worn and then says, “Is it all right if I wear this today?”

Food Fights

“I ate 2lbs of raw meat off of stove that mom had just started cooking for our family Christmas dinner.”
“I lick the butter.”⁰
  • After arriving, your housepest announces that s/he is vegan, lactose intolerant, off all carbs, allergic to garlic, etc.
  • On the flip side, careless housepests could bring or make food that triggers your allergies or goes against your religious or moral convictions.
  • Every morning involves a food-run that results in muffins, donuts, bagels, or similar breakfast fare that everyone must share.
“I complain loudly if I’m not happy with my breakfast choices.”
  • Some people won’t eat peas, cooked mushrooms, tomatoes (except in ketchup), onions, or any vegetable that isn’t cooked to mush.
  • Afternoon snacks, partially eaten dinner, evening snacks, midnight fridge raids…
  • Crumbs, candy wrappers, and drink containers left about could attract vermin that stick around long after the human housepest has gone.
  • Whenever alcohol is added to the situation, there are nearly infinite opportunities for disagreement:
    • Is red wine an absolute travesty with fish?
    • How many drinks are acceptable with dinner?
    • What if one party is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic?


“I shred paper and scatter it all over the house for everyone to enjoy. I want to be a hamster.”
“I terrorize all my tankmates (including two harmless snails) so now I live ALONE.”
  • You are a 1:00 a.m. to 10:00 sleeper while your housepest is an 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. sleeper.
  • You and your housepest know that you disagree on social, political, and/or religious issues but s/he keeps bringing it up.
  • Your housepest knows best: the right things to do and how to do them, what to eat, the best way to get anywhere, the proper way to celebrate any occasion…

Pests Who Come With Pests

“I brought a live mouse into the apartment and released it in my human’s bedroom”
“I smell like stink bugs. =( “
  • They bring along their pets, complete with shed fur, messes on the floor, midnight barking/ chirping/ squeaking, stinky food, and the strange idea that they are welcome on the sofa.
  • Children who throw tantrums, draw on the walls, complain about anything and everything, cry all night, break Great Grandma’s antique china, or just sulk in a corner with headphones on because nothing is fair.
  • Secondary pests might even be brought unknowingly, such as lice or bedbugs.
    • There’s always a chance that a visitor could transmit infections, anything from a cold to the Bubonic Plague.
“On the fifth day of Christmas… we ate the kids’ advent calendars. That’s about 30 chocolates each.”

Bottom line: Few people match perfectly on every dimension. Acknowledging that means you won’t set unrealistic expectations for a visit. And sometimes, forewarned is forearmed! 

“I punch this cat in the face until she lets me eat her dinner, even after I’ve already been fed.”

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