Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)

Yes, when coping with in-laws, much “resolve” is needed.

The holidays are over. Brace yourselves. Back to my Chinese-American in-laws!

Way back when, Jay and Sunny had just arrived at LAX, ready to spend an ungodly amount of time visiting us – in our 1,100 square foot house. With our 2 big, in-your-face-I-love-you-so-much dogs.

I never imagined the dogs would be a problem. I mean, Sunny and Jay had a small dog named Biscuit.

I was cautious,though, because my dogs are large and my in-laws weren’t young. The dogs weren’t allowed to meet the in-laws until after Sunny and Jay toured the house and sat down. Then I let the dogs in.

Woofie made a beeline for Jay. He sat next to Jay’s chair, big head tilted back, brown eyes begging for petting.

Jay yelled, “Aiiieee!” and turned his back to Woofie.

Sunny said, “Oh, no, Jay doesn’t like dogs.”

I gaped, then said, “But…but…you have a dog?!” I gave my husband a WTF look.

Andy shot back the inevitable “yes-they-are-my-parents-but-they-are-also-impossible-so-I-have-no-explanation” look.

Sunny said, “That dog is too big.”

Woofie, our ninety-pound, would-be lap dog, disagreed. He thought he was just the right size for love. Woofie ran to the other side of the chair, sticking his big  face in Jay’s face. Jay screamed and spun back to his original position. Woofie followed.

I grabbed Woofie’s collar and dragged him outside. He howled in protest. Our good dog Fey spread out across the entire dog bed in the office, looking smug.

Woofie ate Andy’s sandals while we revised dog/ in-law sleeping arrangements.

Normally, the dogs slept in the second bedroom. They had a lovely dog bed there, though Woofie always snuck up on the futon at midnight. When we had visitors, the visitors got the futon. Fey and Woofie happily slept in the office, on their other bed.

I explained this to Jay, wrapping up with, “And since the bathroom is just down the hall from your bedroom, before you reach the office, you should be able to use it at night without running into the dogs.”

Jay, the ever-accommodating patriarch, said, “No.”

Jay insisted that his preferred bathroom was the one on the other side of the house, beyond the office and the kitchen. To get to it, he would have to walk through the office with the dogs. Walking by the dogs was unacceptable.

My debutante mother pounded proper hostessing into my head along with the proper use of a two-pronged fork (snails or prosciutto). A good hostess makes her guests feel welcome. She sees to their needs without complaint.

So this good hostess moved the office doggie bed to the front hall.

It went…poorly.

12:30 AM: Andy is asleep before I even take off my glasses (I’m so nearsighted that I can’t see a thing without glasses or contacts). No sooner are glasses off than my father-in-law yells: “Ahhh, ahhh!”

Don glasses, jump out of bed. Discover Woofie in hallway, staring soulfully at Jay — both want to get past each other (Woofie for futon, Jay for bathroom).  I escort Woofie back to bed in front hall. Fey whines.

1 AM: Glasses off. Drifting off when Fey’s whining increases to a fever pitch. Dog tags jingle. On go the glasses. I’m up again. I let dogs out. Fey heads right to her designated toilet area, taking care of business (or so I think). Back to bed with all of us. Glasses off.

1:30 AM: TV blares from in-laws’ room. Jay yells that there is a problem with the remote. Glasses on. I can’t figure out how to fix remote, call in reinforcements (i.e., punch Andy in shoulder till he gets up). Andy fixes remote. Dogs come to investigate. Andy send them back to their bed. Fey whines, Andy comes back to bed. Fey used to whine when we left the futon/ guest/ TV room for the night; Andy thinks it’s just because she’s not in her usual sleeping place.

Andy is wrong.

1:45 AM: Dog tags jingle. I have a bad feeling about this. I send Andy to investigate and hear, “Oh, Fey! Oh, shit!” Glasses on, I’m up, and we clean up Fey’s lower intestinal explosion (which wiped out two carpets in the study). At least Fey is no longer whining.

2:00 AM: As Andy and I stagger back bed, Sunny blocks the hallway. “Too much work!” she scolds us. She thinks the dogs do this every night. We’re too tired to argue. Back to bed.

2:15 AM: Sunny bangs on our door: “House stinks like dog poop!” Get up, find glasses, open windows, and turn on fans.

2:40 AM: Jay bangs on door: “House too cold!” I get up. Try and reset thermostat without glasses. Fail. Get glasses. Turn on heat. Shudder at the thought of the gas bill this month.

3:00 AM: Dog tags wake me from light doze. On with the glasses and out of the bed, hoping to forestall second intestinal explosion. Find Woofie and Jay in another Mexican standoff in the hallway.

Jay is beyond fear. He’s lecturing my dog: “It is not your room! It is not your bed! It is my bed. You go back to your bed. On the floor. Go!” Woofie whines. I escort him back to his bed. Fey farts. Woofie bolts for the back door. I let him outside, thinking he needs to pee.

Instead, he climbs into “his” wicker chair. 50 degrees is preferable to Fey’s continuing explosive gas. Go back to bed, leaving Woofie outside.

4:00 AM: More jingling dog tags. Get glasses, glare at snoring husband, investigate. Fey is on forbidden living room rug, looking guilty. No sign of what might have triggered guilt. Woofie whines at door. I let him in. Both dogs settle on their bed. I climb in bed. With glasses. Am sure I will be up in seconds.

4-6:00 AM: Manage to doze to melodious sound of guest futon making weird squeaking noises. Scared to speculate on in-law activities. Squeak ends with loud thump. A dog whines. Give up and get up.

6:00 AM: Let out dogs and feed them. Discover that Jay and Sunny don’t like futon, have put their mattress on the floor. Feel stabs of hostess guilt. Scold self repeatedly for not having provided more comfortable bed for guests. Then remember that Andy sold my comfy queen bed without permission at garage sale. It’s all his fault.

Mother-in-law advises me that sleeping in glasses has put a mark on my face and will give me more wrinkles.

Yes, “MORE.” I wasn’t aware I had ANY.

Am briefly GLAD husband sold the comfy bed.

6:15 AM: Mother-in-law’s bare foot finds Fey’s missing piddle puddle on $$$ living room carpet. Thank mother-in-law for being so helpful. Get out carpet cleaner again.

7:00 AM: Walk dogs. Squirrel with death wish darts in front of us. Dogs lunge. I trip. Get dragged over tree roots. Rip pants, cut hands. Spend the rest of the walk  telling dogs they are banished to the backyard forever. They hang their heads as I finish lecture by calling them evil creatures, leaving them on patio.

8:00 AM: Jay declares that our dogs are not evil. He lets Woofie inside, pats his head. He decrees that dogs may now sleep on bed in office, insists I move dog bed back into office immediately. I comply.

Woofie settles on his dog bed with a sigh. He ignores my in-laws, sleeps for six hours.

Lucky bastard.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

29 thoughts on “Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)”

    1. Bipolar? I dunno, I’m inclined to think that Jay was looking for a way to save face AND get some sleep after realizing his tactical error. It’s just too bad that a) California has laws prohibiting leaving dogs outside at night and b) Our house is too small and our dogs are too big for multiple crates. Or even to fit them in our tiny bedroom! The party. Right. It’s coming. But not just yet.

          1. Ummm…I don’t understand his desire for one bathroom over another. However, it made a hilarious post. Not so much now (I have 3 well behaved cats) but when I had Jake who yodeled between midnight and 3 every single night and had to be injected before anyone got up in the morning, I understand how draining it is when you get houseguests. Even when you love the houseguests. I didn’t know how exhausted I was until after he was gone. I think I slept 3 days almost straight. Most thought I was in mourning and I was but I was also exhausted.

            1. Poor Jake and poor Jake’s Mom.
              Houseguests who are three hours behind are particularly tough. I was surprised that the dogs had such a hard time adjusting to sleeping in a different room, even though they had their same beds.

              1. My one cat sleeps on a twin bed in the guest room. She doesn’t understand guests in her room. As soon as they leave she sleeps on the unmade bed and gets cranky when moved. I am not surprised that they didn’t want their routine changed. I don’t like it either.

  1. Jay is surely on the Dark Side.
    Though that night seemed terrible just imagine how it would have been with my MIL. She says herself that she loves all animals and has enormous knowledge about them. It even starts fine by patting and playing with the two dogs but latest in the morning they might be dead.
    She nearly killed her current two dogs on multiple occasions and she still insists giving them the leftover food from the restaurant (usually super spicy stuff which can even kill an elephant). My wife remembers at least one dog which died when she was younger due to “stomach problems”.
    Before MIL visited here in 2015 the city had rather many ducks in the little lake in the middle of the city center but then by the end of the summer over 70% had died. It was all over the news because they also thought it might the the bird flu but they died because of some stomach problems. I actually caught MIL that summer on several occasion bringing the ducks some leftover food, not just leftover food from the same day but even meat dishes a few days old which she kept in plastic bags with 86 degrees fahrenheit outside temperature on the balcony. I am very very sure that she is the cause of the sudden duck population obliteration.

    1. OMG, your MIL wins. Singlehandedly destroying the duck population. That is impressive.

      Jay and Sunny fed my dogs some terrible, terrible things. But I haven’t gotten to the yet. I think pet pigs would do better with my in-laws. I mean, pigs can eat anything.

  2. This made me laugh out loud, also I feel exhausted for you. I don’t think I could host my inlaws (the upside of them living in a big house not far from our small apartment means they do all the hosting).

  3. Damn girl, I got tired reading this post. I think Kate is right, you’re going to get canonized!

    Your in-laws are so vocal and direct!! I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse, aha…

    I’m glad Jay and Sunny got used to the dogs! I hope the rest of the stay was a little more pleasant?

    1. Thanks, Mary. Yes, there’s no beating about the bush with the in-laws. And along with learning how to be a good hostess, I learned how to be a good guest. This is not a part of Sunny and Jay’s culture, though, so it’s really hard for me not to see them as demanding. IT IS EXHAUSTING, yes, and I so wish I could say it got better…

  4. I can’t believe the ending… Jay seemed to get along with the dogs alright after a matter of days. Jay and Sunny sound like they are really making themselves at home by putting their mattresses on the floor…

    1. Yeah, the whole like/hate dog thing is pretty bizarre. I think it’s Woofie’s size that is intimidating, which in understandable if you didn’t grow up around large dogs. Or if, as in some cultures, various authorities/ military are quick to use dogs to hunt/ subdue people.

    1. It’s a better plan, but not exactly an option that night. Sunny and Jay defeat earplugs, trust me. Sunny especially is really loud, and every bellow made the dogs come investigate. Andy was still recovering from knee surgery and I didn’t feel right making him get up all the time. But so damned tempting.

  5. Awwww. That’s rough. Reminds me when I was taking care of my then-boyfriend’s dog. What a spoiled creature he was, always wanted to be let outside and when I did, he’d bark nonstop. Sleepless hell that was.

    I imagine though (not knowing anything about dogs) that they like routine and when your guests arrived, they were excited by the guests?

    Curious: Why didn’t you let the dogs sleep with you? Or is that a no-no?

    1. That’s a good question — we had the cats sleeping with us. And since the cats do not actually like Woofie, and yet Woofie really wants to play with them, our bedroom becomes wild animal kingdom if we open it to all species. Also our bedroom is very, very small. Room for a bed and not much else.

      Yes, indeed. The dogs do like their routine and I think their inability to settle down had something to do with all the excitement. And Sunny’s voice. She’s really, really loud. Every time she spoke, the dogs wanted to investigate. When my sisters visited, the dogs had no issues. They slept like the dead in the office. But Woofie had already made friends with them and was content.

If you liked this, let the white girl know!