Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bossy Betty's Guide to Hosting Out of Town Guests. Discussion Questions Included At No Extra Charge.

Apparently, she was too busy looking up synonyms for "I don't really care."

A few months ago a lovely couple came to stay a couple of nights with us. HOB had gotten to know them from his workplace. They were acquaintances, not close friends. They had just recently moved to Mexico and had come back to take classes to be grief counselors. We had a nice time sitting and talking. We took some great walks and had some good meals. They were perfect house guests--bearing appropriate gifts when they came, polite, appreciative, unobtrusive.

Evan's room has the double bed, so he moved into one of the other rooms with a twin bed while they were here. Now Evan's room is fairly typical of a teenage boy. There's quite a bit of stuff in it. The rug is fairly atrocious, but we've decided not to replace it until Ev leaves for college. We cleared off a short TV stand for their one of their suitcases, straightened up as best we could and cleared out, giving the couple privacy, emphasizing that they needed to keep their door shut tight at night so the cats would not come in and disturb them.

Our guests stayed for about three days. They left early in the morning, leaving a lovely, heartfelt thank-you note on the bed. Evan entered his room and called me. The smell in the room was a mixture of aftershave/perfume with an undertone of a putrid, rotting smell. We opened the windows. Neither of the couple had smelled bad, but the aroma of the room was almost overwhelming. I had no idea what perfume that was, but I fanned at the room with the door to get it out.

Later that day, I went back in the room and found the perfume smell was nearly gone but the rotting smell was even stronger. My first suspicion was food, but what but the devil's own kitchen could have even originated something so hideous? I looked under Ev's bed, under his desk, but found nothing. I came back later and the smell was overwhelming and unmistakable this time.

There was something dead in there.

Now, Betty does not do well with dead things, and HOB was out of town. so I called my friend K to come over and she brought her son David. We looked and looked but found nothing. Finally, just as we were about to give up, I picked up Evan's guitar from the corner where it was propped, right by the stand we had cleared for their suitcase. There it was: a giant dead, rotting, rat.

To say that Betty exercised her lungs and vocal cords just about then would be an understatement. Thank goodness, K and her son were there to cart the thing to the trash can. I gave her a pair of kitchen tongs and a plastic bag, permission to throw out the tongs with the rat and my undying appreciation.

It's a true friend who will come remove dead rats when you need them removed.

As far as we could tell, the rat had probably been in there, decomposing during the couple's entire visit. According to K, who had done a quick post-mortem, there had been no trauma to the rat--no sign of the cats arising from their fluffy beds to take the time to chase it down. It was not already prepackaged in a can with gravy on top, so why bother?

Our guests had probably been too polite to mention the decaying rodent smell coming from the space near their suitcases, instead choosing to spray aftershave and perfume around the room. Our admonition to shut the door tight at night must have been a tough one to adhere to. I can just see them in the bed at night, trying desperately to convert the covers into gas masks.

Now, my dear reader, here is my question for you: Would you have you contacted the couple after they left and said anything to them? There was a small chance that they did not notice the smell. (If, say, they had no olfaction action at all.) Should I have apologized and informed them that we had found a rotting rat in their room? Would there have been the unintended undertone of accusation? (Where DID that rat come from anyway? I did not ask K if the rat looked slightly Mexican, but one wonders....)

Mas Preguntas:

1) Do you suppose this experience helped our guests in any way with their training to become grief counselors? Really, shouldn't they be thanking us?

2) Does Emily Post cover this particular situation in one of her books?

3) Would you have contacted the couple after the visit? What would you have said? Betty wants to know.

Hasta Manana, my darlings....


Anjanette said...

Yes, I would definitely contact them and simply relay the entire story that you just shared with us. Not only will it make them laugh, but I think they will be greatly relieved to know that this is not how you usually live. If your son's room is anything like my son's room (and he's only eight) any rat would have thought it is a perfectly acceptable and natural place for one to die.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I would have contacted the couple and blamed it on the cats :) after all it was a rat. I feel they would have understood the whole situation. After all a teenagers room is nothing but a mysterious place :)

Happy Homemaker said...

I guess you should decide whether you really want the nice couple to stay with you again. If the answer is "yes", then you better make that phone call...

By the way, you do have a very nice friend! ; )

Michelle @ Delicate Construction said...

Oh my gosh!!! First of all I would have screamed bloody murder at the sight, but second of all I probably would call. I like the idea of blaming an animal- that would work for me.

Anything Fits A Naked Man said...

Ok, first off, I think I may have already said this earlier, but it bears repeating: YOU'RE FUNNY!! I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your posts!!

Second, as someone who lived in the tourist mecca of the world (Orlando, FL) and had more guests over the years than I care to mention, my advice would be to call the couple! They'll probably have a nice laugh with you over the whole thing and maybe you'll even grow closer having had the experience!

crunchyveganwifelife said...

I have no idea what to tell to be honest...It is so funny and sad to imagine them in there barely breathing due to the smell...I cannot imagine what they thought. I would think they will be pretty acceptant of it since they stayed the whole time with out saying anything. I would have said something like "umm something died in my room...hello..." giggle giggle
Honesty is the best policy though, so I say just tell them...LOL

Shan said...

1) Yes, because we all know that the smell of death comes with death. Now they'll be better able to commiserate with their counselees. (Aside: I was once an interpreter for a young girl who'd gotten a job as a "grief counselor" at a mortuary... turns out the title was synonymous with "sales person.")

2) I don't think her books were allowed in my house growing up.

3) I would have, because I sometimes in public self-flagellation unnecessarily. I would have said, "After you left we noticed a foul smell in the room. Oh! No! We're not saying *you* did it. It turns out that a critter had gotten itself trapped and expired. We're so embarrassed and hope it didn't cause you much of a problem. You're always welcome to come back and stay with us and we promise... no dead rodents. OR live ones. No rodents. Right. We understand. Thank you. Goodbye."

Brian said...

Why not wrap it up and send it to them with a note saying, "Hey, you forgot your dead rat?" Then they could practice some intensive grief counseling on each other.

On second thought, maybe just a humorous note relating the story would be more appropriate.

Jennifer said...

Yes, I think I would call them but they were very polite not to say anything. My cat caught a mouse the other day, she brought it in the living room and starting flipping it through the almost landed on my lap! Now I am not afraid of mice but a still alive (although seriously injured) mouse hurling through the air at me is enough to make me scream. Yuck.

Cid said...

That is the funniest, most horrible thing I have ever heard. I think it is best to just try and forget it and next time you have guests add a smellover to your list of things to do before their arrival. I know I always check our guest bathroom to see if my boys have left anything nasty in it.

Unknown said...

I'm checking in a tad late here, but my vote would be to contact the guests, absolutely. I couldn't bear them thinking for the rest of their lives that my house just typically smelled that way. My, what stoic types they must be!

Unknown said...

I'm checking in a tad late here, but my vote would be to contact the guests, absolutely. I couldn't bear them thinking for the rest of their lives that my house just typically smelled that way. My, what stoic types they must be!