Dealing with an Unwanted Houseguest

I recently had a houseguest who came uninvited and just would not leave! He was a mouse, though, who I first saw as little flashes in the corner of my eye. Nah, I said, it must be my imagination. Then I finally saw him with his beady little eyes and twitchy little nose. I broke the news to my roommate gently, “I don’t want to alarm you but I have seen a mouse…”

As compassionate (and squeamish) people, we decided to go with discouragement first, rush ordering some Mouse Away spray from Amazon Prime. As I was spritzing the perimeter of our living room, I discovered Sir Mousey’s treasure trove of snacks- a forgotten roll of rice cakes left in my roommate’s storage bin. Since she was asleep when I made my discovery and we wouldn’t see each other for at least 48 hours I felt I had no choice but to send her an email so she could deal with the situation post haste. Often the realm of passive aggression, the roommate email is sometimes the best way of sharing bad news- “Hey, so sorry, wouldn’t normally write this in an email but I won’t be home tonight and the mouse has pooped all over your stuff and you’re probably going to want to deal with that sooner rather than later.”

The news got worse. After a weekend mostly out of the apartment, I returned to find that she had done a massive clean of her room and discovered that the mouse had made a nest out of the hay she keeps for her bunnies- in her LLBean Boot. A couple of days later and we have finally purchased lethal traps and hope to have the matter resolved shortly.

In the meantime, I have written a poem in honor of our bewhiskered friend and offer my apologies to Robert Burns for the blatant ripoff:

To A Mouse

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beastie,
Oh, what a panic is in your breastie!
Please run away so hasty
With your hurrying scamper
From behind that laundry hamper
Where I see you hiding basely.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies your ill opinion
Which makes you think
That you belong indoors
And makes me you abhor.

I have found the evidence that you steal;
Making rice cakes your poor meal!
Hay meant for bunny’s bed
Makes the thoughts stir in your head.
But when you use it to make your house,
Then we are sorry, Mr. Mouse.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls an LLBean Boot!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
You may think me quite a brute
To have cleaned it out
But you must leave, and there’s no doubt.

You saw the streets laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, inside a closet,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! We couldn’t pause it.
You, we had to expel.

That small bit heap of straw and hay,
Probably took you many a day!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
We have bought a mouse trap, on the double.
To finally put an end
For our peace of mind, we must defend.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

You had thought you had found a welcome home!
To find you will enter your catacomb.
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
And wish I had never lost my cat.
Who would have prevented me from having to spy,
A mouse upon my mat.

Suggestions for British Reality Shows

If you’ve caught on to the quiet craze for The Great British Bake Off (Great British Baking Show in the US because apparently Pilsbury can copyright “Bake Off,” ugh), you will know that is a much kinder, gentler reality show than we are used to in the US. The contestants are genuinely nice to each other, there are no dramatic pauses that cut to advertising breaks (and thus they can fit 3 challenges into an episode instead of two), and everyone seems to be having a genuinely good time. In short, it’s incredibly relaxing and soothing to watch- the Bob Ross of cooking shows in a sense. So I thought about, what IF there were soothing British versions of other US reality shows? Some suggestions for producers:

  • House Hunters: Britain. I know that there are sometimes Brits on the international version of House Hunters, but what if this was just well adjusted and happy couples looking at quaint British cottages/manors/Tudor half timber? They would save that everything looked just lovely the way it was, not a mention of paint color, granite counter tops, closet space, or “man caves.” They wouldn’t be able to choose and would end up staying where they already lived, because, “we’re perfectly happy here already.”
  • Real Housewives of the Cotswolds. Watch as a charming group of friends in tweed and sweaters go for horseback rides, long walks in wellies, have a spot of tea, and plan the annual garden show. No table throwers need apply.
  • Keeping Up with the Cambridges. A whole show summing up the public appearances of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that week. With special attention paid to Kate’s clothing choices. Fully palace approved with nothing controversial.
  • Catfish Britain: Everyone is who they say they are, they are just too shy to go out and prefer to talk online. (h/t to Jaya for this one)
  • Lord John and Kate Plus Eight. An Earl and Countess find themselves with 8 children! Of course this is no problem because they hire a staff of nannies and the children end up even more eccentric and less controversial than the Mitfords. Popular scenes include the 15 minutes per day the children see their parents before dinner.
  • The Simple Life. Young married couple with children are actually quite happy to escape the stress of the city to their country estate on weekends and start to contemplate whether they can manage to live there full time.
  • Extreme Make Over: British Home Edition. No one’s lives have been ruined by medical bills thanks the the NHS but along with the Extreme Make Over team, friends and neighbors still pitch in to help people who have been struck by hardship.
  • Duck Dynasty. An eccentric middle aged dad carefully films a pair of ducks nesting, laying their eggs, hatching the chicks, watching them walk about, and finally growing up and leaving the nest to create dynasties of their own.
  • Toddlers and Tiaras. An absurd idea, everyone knows that you may not wear a tiara until after marriage and toddlers are far too young for that.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Guide to Etiquette

Did you read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books growing up? You must have since the first book came out in 1947! They were always one of my favorites, probably because I like obeying rules and it was funny to see what would happen to kids who didn’t obey the rules. I’m probably a monster.

Anyway, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (maybe they should update her name to Ms. Piggle-Wiggle? For all kids books they should do that, to set a good example!) comes up with funny and delightful cures to fix all kinds of bad behaviors in children. And in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, she comes up with a cure for bad table manners.

This story involves a little boy named Christopher Brown who eats like a wild animal. His parents have tried to teach him better but their instructions fall on deaf ears. His mother is particularly worried that he will soon be invited to dinner at friends’ houses and embarrass her horribly. His bad table manners are defined as:

  • Chewing with his mouth open
  • Smacking his lips
  • Gulping audibly
  • Making piles of food on his fork and then sticking it straight down his throat
  • Buttering whole slices of bread on his hand (!!!! this story is old enough, 1949, that most people still knew that you should tear bread into pieces and butter them individually)
  • Mixing his food up until it looks like dog food
  • Drinking his soup from the bowl
  • Gesturing with his fork until food flies off

So basically, pretty bad! Enter Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

See, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has a pig named Lester who has beautiful table manners and she lends him to Mrs. Brown to teach Christopher some manners. During the next few days, Lester provides a good example of table manners to Christopher and gently corrects him when he is being boorish. However, Mr. and Mrs. Brown are a bit rude to poor Lester. Mr. Brown throws his bedding into the laundry shoot and makes oink oink noises at him. And Mrs. Brown serves pork for dinner! And then she doesn’t learn ANYTHING and serves bacon for breakfast! I mean, REALLY!

But fortunately, all of Lester’s teachings paid off and Christopher went off to his first dinner party with such polite manners that the hostess called his mother to compliment him the next day.

Now if only we could all have a magical pig to teach manners!

Can Etiquette Be Humorous?

Etiquette is often thought (incorrectly) to be classism disguised as manners, so it can actually be quite funny when someone uses hyperbolic classism as etiquette.

At least I hope that is what William Hanson is doing.

Once billed as the UK’s youngest etiquette expert, William Hanson is a regular columnist at the Daily Mail (I knoooow, and what’s even worse, it’s in the woman’s interest section called “femail”- like female but spelled like “mail” for the Daily Mail. I cannot.), the author of A Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette, a popular etiquette commentator for various TV programs, and a tutor for the etiquette consultancy company, The English Manner (presumably another pun on English Manor, as in fancy house where polite people live?). While his book and personal appearances are serious (though funny and engaging), his Daily Mail columns are HILARIOUS when read as a satire of the British class system and how it relates to etiquette (though horrifying if taken seriously, as many of the commentors seem to.)

For example:

  • How Common Is Your Breakfast?:
    • “The middle classes today are obsessed with health foods to start their days. Protein this, good fats that. All rather boring and faddy for the uppers to worry about.
    • They’ve survived this far without chia seeds, thank you, and will somehow manage to carry on the lineage in their absence.”
    • “Do I even have to spell it out what a McMuffin says about your life choices and standards? I severely hope not. Being seen walking down a street with a takeaway cup of coffee is also a fast-track ticket for entry into society hell.”
  • What Does YOUR Home Say About Your Social Class?:
    • “I have written before that there are few worse accusations one can level against someone than that they own, or aspire to own, a hot tub.”
    • “The size of a house’s main television is pretty much the acid test in social class. The bigger the television the more downmarket the establishment.”
    • “Mirrored furniture is not only redolent of the lower echelons of the premier league but stunningly impractical…Oak or mahogany furniture, slightly chipped or worn in places, is far smarter and carries more cachet.”
  • The 12 Silent Ways Everyone Is Judging Your Social Class:
    • “It’s not just how we shake hands but what we say to accompany it. The upper classes will all say ‘how do you do’, which is rhetorical. ‘Pleased/nice to meet you’ is the definition of de trop.”
    • “This is now pandemic at black tie events: men turning up (often the ones with ready-made bow ties) and the moment they reach their seat, whipping off the jacket and sticking it on the back. So vulgar!”
  • How Posh Is YOUR Bedroom?:
    • “Bed linens are cotton, linen or a blend of both. Silk and satin sheets are the reserve of haggard, ageing ungentlemanly playboys. Linens are often white, or off white. Floral bedding is acceptable if you’re thatched. Black, deep purple or maroon sheets are to be left in the shop. Or ideally burned.”
    • “One way to make sure your bedroom is up there with the hoity-toity is to display a beaten up teddy bear, stuffed with memories of the nursery.”
    • “Upon rising, it is important to change and dress for breakfast if you wish to frolic both outside and inside the sheets with the PLU set [People Like Us -Ed.]. Eating kippers in your pyjamas is not on.”
    • “The best houses are big houses. Big, rattling and totally impractical. Therefore, they are cold. Especially now as impoverished aristos and gentry struggle to keep the central heating running at all – unless they sellout to costume dramas. Cold? Pop an extra dog on the bed rather than reach for the radiator. Cheaper and warmer, by far. Très chic!”

He also has a wonderful Twitter.

So what do you all think? Satire or serious? It has to be satire, right?


Wedding Invitation Hack

Earlier this week, I talked about rude lifehacks. But I was also reminded this week about a cool invitation thing that I wanted to share- you can send your wedding invitation to certain important people and get a response, with the most popular being The President of the United States and Mickey Mouse!

Okay, technically you no longer need to send an actual invitation to the President- they have a handy form online that you can fill out for a wide variety of milestones- baby’s birth, major birthdays, Eagle Scout/Girl Scout Gold awards, etc. You can find it here. Note, this service is available to US citizens only.

For a response to Mickey and Minnie Mouse, send it to:

Guest Letters

Letters to Mickey Mouse

P.O. Box 10040

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-00100


If you are a British citizen (or Canadian, Australian, or New Zealander), the Queen will send you a greeting for a milestone birthday (and they mean serious milestones- 100+ only) or wedding anniversary (starting at 65 years!) but (not for a wedding). Find the form here.


And if you have a deceased loved one who is a Veteran of the United States, you can find information about requesting a flag here.