Dear Flushed:


Dear Knoxonomist:
During the holiday season I had guests who didn’t know when to pack up and head out. I deliberately clogged up a toilet. That worked—my brother, his wife, their four kids, and their three little rat-dogs cleared out. Any advice for next year?
— Flushed in Fountain City

Dear Flushed,

The Knoxonomist applauds your ingenuity. As you know, getting rid of persistent guests is tricky business, and the Knoxonomist has added your method to his repertoire. This year the Knoxonomist resorted to using a WIFI jammer—on the fifth day of their visit, his cousin and family suddenly discovered they could no longer stream Deadliest Catch, and so they packed up and rolled out.

The Knoxonomist wants to say “be honest,” to tell your couch-sprawling uncle and his disapproving wife that it’s time to hit the road, that the bar is closed, that there ain’t no more laundry service. But you’ re not going to do that, and neither is the Knoxonomist. The consequences are too severe. Aunt Petunia will record the Knoxonomist’s bluntness in the monthly family newsletter she mails and posts to Facebook. The Knoxonomist has heard reports of her sticking the damned thing under the wiper blades of cars parked at her church and local Kroger.

No. The only solution is deviousness.

Here’s an idea if you want to avoid the guests in the first place. Move without telling anyone. When Uncle Cletus and crew show up for Thanksgiving, you’ll be giving thanks in another state. When sister Chrissy and her wastrel, pony-tailed boyfriend show up for Christmas, you’ll be chugging another Christmas cognac in Cleveland. When brother Roy Bob bangs on last year’s front door, you’ll be banging … well, you get the point. But perhaps it’s too drastic to actually move away from home—after all, all of your stuff is there.

Instead, consider telling everyone you moved, but don’t. If that works, not only do you get peace and quiet but you also get to keep your house. But perhaps you don’t mind guests, you just don’t want them to take root. Here’s a few ideas.

When your guests arrive, assign them chores. Not the easy chores like making a beer run, but nasty chores, such as cleaning the toilets, scooping up dog poop, and cleaning bathtub grout with an old toothbrush you cheerily provide.

Ask your guests if they mind bed bugs. (This won’t work with Uncle Cletus, of course.) When they look appalled, say they shouldn’t worry – you haven’t seen any bed bugs in the last hour or so.

Put hotel-style price lists about the house. Be outrageous. A packet of M&M’s is $3, a can of Coke is $5; beer is $7 for mass market, $12 for microbrew.

Flushed in Fountain City, the Knoxonomist hopes he helped. You’ve certainly helped him – the Knoxonomist will try your clogged toilet trick the next time Roy Bob won’t get around to heading home.

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Illustration by Alexei Chtykhine

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