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An Unwanted Guest

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Benjamin Franklin once said,”Guests, like fish begin to smell after three days.” I found myself wryly agreeing with him when reality set in after six days of being upset with my cousin’s behavior who is currently visiting us from India for about a month.

Initially I couldn’t put my finger on the source of my irritation. It was like having a well hidden pet turd in my living room which I couldn’t find but the stench was driving me nuts. What makes her a bad guest?

She, a thirty-three year old, is behaving like a fat, hungry five year old and I’m the “new mama”, someone expected to feed her three meals every day, wash her used dishes, put up with her big ugly undergarments hanging in my bathroom, entertain her 24/7 and, worst of all, listen to her sole reason for living – beading!

The woman treats my home like a free board and lodging place with food included. In the morning she’d wake up and ask what’s for breakfast. If the menu wasn’t to her liking the response would be “I don’t want to eat that” and then silence.

The pattern would continue through the day; she would go to her bead and button workshops, return home, lie down for about two hours and, instead of helping me in the kitchen, expect hot food to be laid out for her to eat after she had woken up.

Somehow I started to feel more like her personal cook and chambermaid instead of a tired, overdue, pregnant cousin.

If we would step out for chow (which we did a lot as I’ve become somewhat redundant in the cooking department), never once did she offer to go Dutch, nevermind paying the whole amount. It’s understandable that she wouldn’t pay or go Dutch while we went out with my husband but when she and I went out alone not once did she reach for her wallet.

At home she would park her arse on the futon with her beading material and pass the evening away watching movies, serials or relaxing while I slaved over the stove, did her laundry or picked deliberate pointed fights with my unaware, helpful husband about not pitching in around the house while my swollen feet and painful lower back made me feel like a ninety year old cranky hag.

But to no avail, she remained oblivious to the hints about everyone washing their own dishes because I was too tired to cook and clean up or too tired to go out.

It was always “What can I eat? I’m hungry. Are you hungry? What did you eat? I want hot coffee. I want to go out. What are we going to do today?…. I want….I want.”

Now, I wasn’t starving her. My kitchen is stocked with all sorts of healthy stuff like fruits, salads, cereals and yogurt for snacks, all the things to which she is seemingly “allergic.” Instead, she wanted deep fried potatoes, doughnuts, muffins, bagels, cream sodas, etc; food I have weaned my family and myself away from. I wasn’t going to break the food rules for her bad habits, nor was I going to do the unhealthy, in-between meal thing.

Is it silly on my part to expect that she could have gotten snacks of her liking and stocked them in her room? Or for that matter eat at the local mall, which was just a block away from the center where her bead show was being held? Instead, she came back like a hungry child expecting nourishment from her mother?

But the final shock came when we asked her what date she thought her niece would decide to make her grand entry into this big world. She said the twentieth. Both my husband and I were shocked as she was to leave for Santa Clara on the sixteenth. I asked her why so late because then she wouldn’t be here when the infant would be born?

Her reply was that she wouldn’t know what to do. Wouldn’t know what to do? It wasn’t as if she had to plug the babe onto her boobs or clean her poop. I was devastated. My own flesh and blood, someone I had shared my childhood with, was being so heartless and self absorbed that she didn’t want to see her new niece because it would mean some kind of house work.

The next day while she was out at one of her workshops, I spoke to my mother and sisters about my cousin’s behavior. They were as surprised as I had been and thought I was overreacting.

I told them that my mother would see my cousin in live action when she was with us for the baby’s delivery.

My mother’s plane landed in Chicago on July 9th which I designated as “Mommy Rescue Day.” Then I saw my mom deal with my tormenter in her brisk, loving manner.

After picking Ma up from the airport we headed out for lunch. At the restaurant, when my cousin announced she wasn’t hungry, my mom frowned at her and said she wasn’t planning to get into the kitchen before nine so she better eat.

Ah… I sat back and watched my mom in action from then on. She banned my entrance into the kitchen and told me to take root on the recliner. She made my cousin help her out around the house. My cousin grumbled under her breath but is now pitching in with my Ma sitting on her back like a tough monkey.

Currently, I am feeling more rested and relaxed with my mom pampering me. Since I have been relieved of housework, I have time to start packing my household stuff for our impending move in August.

Unlike my weird, mooching cousin who saw me hobble painfully around the house and yet treated me with like a sub-human auto-cook, my mother came to my rescue like a merciful angel saving me from that audacious gremlin.

I’m a people person and love to have guests over. I love wining and dining people and, with the exception of my cousin, others who have stayed with us have been ideal guests.

But she was just the opposite. What upsets me most is that she didn’t take into consideration that this has been a difficult pregnancy for me. Even our acquaintances have been volunteering to help me out but she, on the other hand, deliberately shirked from even washing a coffee cup.

My relationship with her has taken a turn for the worse right now. She is oblivious to it however. Though I know I will come around and still love her as I always did, things will never be the same.

For one, I will never invite her over again. It would be like having a third spoiled child to look after and I’m a proud individual who has a tough time asking for help from a visiting guest. It would be a vicious circle and I don’t think my mother will be here to break it for me the next time around.

/end rant

Edited: LH

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About Deepti Lamba

  • Cherry

    You should be glad you have family that comes and stays – even the over-extended ones – but I guess a difficult guest is hard to handle – best of luck

  • Nancy

    Cherry, you obviously have never had obnoxious guests of any sort freeload off of you!

    Puss, you are TOO nice for your own good, told ya that before! I would have told her I wasn’t running a B&B about 12 hours into it, but then I nurse my rep as a grinch anyway 😉 Maybe it’s just your youth: give you 20 years & a few kids & you, too, will be issuing orders like a “tough monkey”!

  • swingingpuss

    Nancy, I wanted to tell her off but since I’m not good at being diplomatic I decided to just hold my tongue and count days till she leaves, which is tomorrow.

    I do need to learn the art of tough love with extended family without ruffling to many feathers :)

  • Avinash Machado

    Must have been a horrible experience.