Ever since I moved to a different city, I have entertained a fair number of house guests. It has been annoying at times, and hard work, but it has taught me valuable lessons about being a good house guest. At the risk of sounding like a totally uptight bitch (which I feel like at this moment because my ex-husband has been here for three days and he is on my last nerve), here they are:

1. Just look for shit in the kitchen. Don’t ask for the location of every item. I don’t care if you open my drawers and go rooting around. I don’t care if you put shit in the wrong drawers while cleaning up. I do care if you ask me the whereabouts of 100 items.  Chances are you’ll find the spoons exactly where you found the forks that you just asked me about. The lids for the pots? They’re probably in the pot drawer from which you just removed a pot. Food? Either in the pantry or the fridge!

2. Don’t sneer at my cats if they rub against your leg. I don’t care if you don’t like cats. You’re in my house. I have cats. They like people. No need to gush over them, but don’t freak out. They are small, fluffy, harmless, loving mammals. Deal.

3. Don’t make a mess in common areas. I don’t care what you do in your bedroom, but don’t leave all your shit on the kitchen counter and in the living room or in the foyer. It’s my house and I like it to look pretty and neat and tidy. Mess up the guest bedroom all you like.

4. Don’t tell me what I need to buy for the house; it makes me feel like somehow the surroundings don’t measure up for you. “You need a really nice cabinet or credenza here, a rug here, a loveseat or a chaise lounge here.” Hey. I’m a single mother, on one income, living in a huge rented house that has some bare spots because I don’t want to buy a ton of shit and then move into a smaller place and have to get rid of it all. And shut up! Rude!

5. Don’t question my cooking methods. I am cooking for you. It will taste good. This is how I make guacamole, and it always turns out sublime, and by the way, you don’t know how to peel and de-stone an avocado and I’ve never said a word to you about it. Shut up again.

6. Don’t you dare take over my sound system with your music. I have good taste in tunes. There is something for everyone in my repertoire. But I am really not interested in listening to some Japanese death metal or that Jack Johnson surfer dude at full blast. Piss off.

7. If you drink all my booze you better motherfucking replace some of it. I don’t drink much, but I like to have it on hand for guests, motherfucker.

8. Don’t offer to do something nice to help me out, because I will go all Canadian and say: “No, don’t be silly.” So don’t ask, just do it. Fold some laundry! Water my plants! Feed the cats! Cook me breakfast! I used to scrub my mother-in-law’s sinks when helping clean up after dinner, and she was so touched, even though I claimed I routinely did it whenever I cleaned up after dinner so that she wouldn’t assume I thought she was a pig. So yes, just do some small thing that might momentarily ease my load because, you know, it might feel like you’re on vacation because I put fresh flowers, fluffy towels, Kiehl’s lip balm and organic chocolate in your bedroom, but I’m working and I’m not getting fucking paid.