laplumeDear L. A. Plume,

I read with great interest all your columns and am especially fond of the ones about guests. Thought you might enjoy my experience, which unfortunately ends with these guests not being “invited back” – ever.



My husband, George, and I had houseguests for a few too many days. They are a Husband and Wife in their 60s;  they live about 5 hours from where we live in Maine. The wife and I have been friends for 45 years; she is very easy going.  Hubby always seemed a tad difficult, but has now had a mid-life crisis. Or Something. The dialogue was priceless, so I am sharing it:


Me: answering phone before they arrive, “Hello?”

Wife: “Just wanted to let you know we are on Route 24 now.”  [Okay, you’re 7 miles or 20 minutes away.]

Me: answering phone 40 minutes later, “Hello?”

Wife:  “We somehow went to Bath.  See you in half an hour.”

Me: wondering how the hell they went to Bath, “Okay.”

Car pulls into driveway, loaded with enough stuff to visit for a month.

Hubby:  “Your directions need to be revised.  You don’t know how to get here.” [Huh?  I live here…] “We had to make a right onto 24 South.  You told us to go straight.”

Me:  “You mean you went right after you crossed the railroad tracks in Cooks Corner?”

Hubby:  “We didn’t cross railroad tracks.  We were on 24 south.  We did exactly what your directions said.  We passed Bowdoin College.”

Me:  “If you went past Bowdoin, you weren’t following my directions.”

Hubby:  “I always follow directions.  Yours were not good.  You need to revise them.”


Sitting with cocktails the first evening; tide is high and we can see neighbor’s 48 foot sloop at mooring.


Hubby:  “Is that your boat?”

Me:  “No, it’s our neighbor’s.”

Hubby:  “Well, perhaps you could ring them up and have them take us for a sail.”

George becomes very interested in the evening news and turns the volume up.


Hubby decides to commandeer the entire sofa, including the coffee table, which within minutes of arrival is covered with his books, computer, papers, and food.  He is particularly fond of butter, and puts it on everything.  There is a plate of bread and butter before him on the coffee table at all times.


Hubby, in kitchen rummaging thru fridge: “Do you not have butter?”

Me:  “Yes, there’s a quarter pound in the butter dish.”

Hubby slathers it on crackers.  A couple hours later, during which no one else has been in the kitchen, Hubby is rummaging again.

Hubby:  “Do you have no butter?  It’s a staple; you really ought to keep it around.”

Me:  “Yes, in the butter dish.”

Hubby: “I have the dish here but there’s no butter in it.”



Hubby:  “Is there somewhere around here I might go for a swim?”

Me:  “The tide’s almost at the high, so you can just go down the ladder at the end of our dock.”

Hubby:  “Well I shouldn’t want to swim there. That water in the cove is dirty and stagnant.”

George, muting the television which is his lifeline to sanity:  “No, it’s certainly not stagnant.  There’s a ten foot tide here twice a day, and the Atlantic Ocean has strong currents.”

Hubby, very assertively:  “That cove is stagnant.”


All of us in the car, crossing the bridge onto our island.


Me, to Wife:  “Just imagine what it was like 100 years ago when there was no bridge.”

Hubby, before Wife can even peep:  “People just walked across at low tide.  Very simple.”

George: clenching steering wheel:  “No, they didn’t walk across at all.  There’s a 30 foot tide here and the eddies are among the most dangerous on the Maine coastline.”

Hubby:  “Not dangerous at low tide.”

George, now clenching teeth too:  “At low tide the water is still 20 feet deep.”

Hubby:  “I don’t believe so.”


We have invited Jackie and Dave, who have never met, to join us for a ‘lobstah’ dinner;  as the evening progresses, it is clear they would like to rush off into the night together, because obviously they are dining in a loony bin.


Hubby, an hour before guests arrive:  “I know this is heresy in Maine, but I don’t particularly care for lobster.  So I shall be having some scallops.”

Me:  “We haven’t any scallops.”

Hubby:  “I got some at Shaw’s (grocery store).”  [What, the frozen kind from Antarctica?  To get to Shaw’s you’d have to drive right past Julie’s seafood place where she sells scallops that her husband dove for this morning, right out in front of our house.]

Wife: “You’re crazy!  This is the best lobster you’ll ever have!”

Hubby:  “I’ll just need some butter” [surprise] “and perhaps some shallots and some wine and a nice saute pan and I’ll just cook the scallops right alongside you while you’re doing the lobster.”


Me, really angry now:  “You certainly will not.  I have a one-person kitchen and I’m that person. Nobody can be doing anything else in that kitchen while I am getting lobster on.”

Hubby:  “Well, I don’t actually cook.  But if you must be alone, then Wife can saute my scallops after you’ve served up the lobster.”

Wife, finally standing up on her hind legs:  “If I cook your scallops after the lobster is served, mine would be cold.  I’ll just do yours ahead and then nuke it.”

Hubby:  “I don’t care for microwaved food.”


Dinner progresses apace.  Hubby knows all about the economy and politics and he endeavors to bring Jackie and Dave up to speed.  George is trying to turn the TV on without my noticing. Soon after eating the scallops, Hubby does not feel at all well and goes downstairs for the rest of the evening.  Wife has to follow.  Phew!  Jackie and Dave do not have to escape into the woods together after all, we sit in peaceful silence watching late night news.


Hubby heads out on the deck with the bread and butter.  Leaves the screen door open.

Me:  “Please don’t leave the screen open; I don’t want the bugs in.”

Hubby:  “I see no bugs about.”

Me:  “That’s why they call them no-see-ums.”

Hubby, dead serious:  “No need to keep the screen shut.  No bugs here.”

Television is now at top volume, and I am beginning to itch.

They’ll never be invited back.


Dear Catherine,

Thank you for your story and your invitation to visit; shall I bring some butter?

L.A. Plume


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