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Correcting Your Behavior Since 2017

Our First "Counter-Curmudgeon"

There are few things that bless a curmudgeon’s heart like encountering a fellow curmudgeon. So I was delighted to receive, in response to last week’s complaint, some curmudgeonly pushback from a fellow dogmatic complainer whose well-written disapproval of my disapproval was so satisfyingly staunch that I felt it merited its very own entry. I’ll let Mr. Neil Ramsay take it from here. TWC


Dear Mr. Curmudgeon, I would like to offer a counter to your recent post entitled “Company Policies.”

First, let me say that while I do appreciate your stance on the appearance of heretofore unmentioned canines, you generally have to understand your place in the hierarchy of the modern American household. While there may have been a time when obsequious hospitality was a hallmark of decorum amongst the upper class elite, today, guests are not generally seen as anything resembling the top of the chain. The current pyramid has pets at the top. Below that are children. Below that are the host or hostess. And below that are guests—those people usurping your physical space while you are forced to cater to them with the appearance of deference. As you can see, pets rank above all else in the American home, as evidenced by how much people are willing to spend on pet sitters versus how much people are willing to spend on babysitters. Pet sitters make far more money than babysitters. Pets don't talk back, ask to borrow the car, or require college money, and people are more than willing to attribute zero malice to even their deadliest of animal friends, despite possible evidence to the contrary. You, as the bottom of the chain, may detest the nuzzling, drooling, humping, licking, and general discomfort, but you are never allowed to dictate its presence or absence as you’ve given up all hope of that by setting foot into someone else’s home. I, as a conscientious host, will warn people before they enter my home that I have cats. Some people may have allergies. Some may be terrified of ten-pound balls of fur and purring. These are semi-legitimate concerns, and I would never want someone to be startled into apoplexy by the appearance of an aloof ball of fluff, calmly preening and ignoring everyone from a perch in the corner. Guests are, of course, welcome to wait outside with the mosquitos, smog, and intolerable Georgia heat should that make them feel safer. But they are never to dictate the presence of my pets. When guests enter my home, however, SHOES WILL BE REMOVED OR COVERED. On this item, there is no leeway. I do not, Mr. Curmudgeon, live in a sewer. I’ve no intention of living in one. And yet your insistence that you should be allowed to wear your shoes in my home does little but try to insinuate the finer points of sewer living into my pristine palace. You traipse to and fro across the unwashed world in those shoes, gathering up every horrid unmentionable you can find upon the ground, from the insides of public restrooms to the barely cleaned floors of filling stations, to the moldering, filth-laden crevices of asphalt and concrete that pervade the world as we know it. And then you want to bring those festering, germ-ridden soles of yours into my home? I will not have it. It will not be done. If you can show me in good faith, sir, that you’ve never worn those shoes into a store, or an office, or on the street, or on a sidewalk, or in the confines of an automobile whose floor mats have likely not been washed since purchase, then you may enter unabated. Otherwise, you can bloody well leave those shoes at the door. If I wanted the urine and feces from uncountable public toilets to find their way into my home, I’d take a more active role in seeking them out. If you can’t find yourself able to remove your shoes for the sake of my health, sanity, and, of course, the health of my pets, who come several rows above you in the household pyramid, we have washable shoe covers you can use to cover yourself and keep my floors from simply becoming yet another bacterial playground. Or, once again, you may wait outside with the blood-sucking parasites, the oceanic humidity, and the germs you seem to so fondly adore. Good day, sir.

Neil Ramsay


The son of two English professors, Neil Ramsay was raised in England and then the US. His father taught Shakespearean literature and studied acting at Stratford-upon-Avon, instilling in him a love of the classics and a skewed sense of the everyday. He currently resides in Marietta, GA with his lovely wife Sarah, his two cats (who run the house), and a floor devoid of shoes.

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