Tom Williams

House Rules

Dear Everett: 

I just learned from Momma Tash that youíll be needing a place to stay when you get to Memphis. Seeing as how weíre cousins, Iím glad to say it just so happens that things didnít work out with my last roommate and Iíve got plenty of space for you in my house. I know how hard it is to move to a new place where you donít know many people, so you plan on staying here as long as you like.

Memphis can be a hard city, especially for somebody country like you. Like I used to be. Itís not easy finding a neighborhood where your car wonít get stolen or your head busted in for no good reason. My streetís quiet and safe. Iíve lived here now six years and sleep well at night. Youíll fit right in, especially since youíve got that job over to Fed Ex. I think a man living two doors down works there. If you all work the same shift, maybe you can carpool.

I hope youíll accept my offer. All I ask, though, is you read through the following rules and guidelines Iíve set up to make living together simple and stress-free. I know youíll understand. 

  1. Park your car in the garage, but make sure you do on the left-hand side.
  2. Thereís a spare key in a toolbox on your side of the garage.
  3. Remove any mud or dirt from your shoes on the back porch.
  4. Remove your shoes before you enter the house.
  5. No smoking inside.
  6. Your living area has a bedroom and a bathroom. Theyíre all yours. I wonít come in unless you ask me. Feel free to bring in your furniture, but keep everything away from the walls and at an angle. (When you get here Iíll tell you all about chi and feng shui.)
  7. The kitchen has a dishwasher but I donít trust it.
  8. Feel free to keep your food in my fridge, only there can be no meat or animal products. This means eggs, cheese, butter and milk, too. And Jell-o and Starburst fruit chews. I have it on good authority that spirits of those murdered creatures can molecularly alter and taint foods kept in the same area.
  9. No fast food of any kind can be eaten in this house. Period.
  10. Quiet hours are between five am and seven, then again from ten pm to twelve.
  11. You can watch my TV in the living room, just donít move the couch or the sofa and donít ever watch anything on ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN NEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN U or ESPN HD. No Fox Sports, either
  12.  If you have any DVDs, keep them out of my TV cabinet.
  13. Ask first if you can watch any of my DVDs.
  14. Donít ask at all to see any of my hidden camera Israeli Army Officer DVDs, unless you have some of the early volumes. (Which is doubtful. Only ones Iím missing are the ones the government wonít allow into the country. So just stay out of my TV cabinet, hear me?)
  15. Use a coaster for hot and cold drinks.
  16. Guests are no problem. Just be sure they abide by the house rules.
  17. Guest privileges will be suspended if any house rules are broken. If any of your guests mess with my TV cabinet, guest privileges will be revoked.
  18. No microwave popcorn.
  19. All pennies must be kept in the bucket by the front door. We roll them every second Saturday, right after quiet hours.
  20. Recycle all plastic and glass.
  21. I know youíre country, Everett, but use a washcloth.
  22. No drugstore aftershave.
  23. The door to the right of the basement stairs is painted green for a reason. You come from the same part of Arkansas as me, Everett. I donít have to tell you what that means.
  24. Sunday worship is optional.
  25. Seriously. Stay away from my green door. And donít mess with my hidden-camera Israeli Army Officer DVDs.

Iím sure Iím forgetting a few things. I wrote another list by hand and my last roommate ran off with it. But twenty-fiveís a very spiritually positive number. And if I remember any more rules, Iíll be sure to tell you. Otherwise, I hope Momma Tash and all your brothers and sisters are doing well and that youíre anxious to start living up here. Just sign the line below my signature, next to the notaryís seal. Youíll want to get this notarized yourself before you send it back. I think Mr. Dempsey over to Marianna still has his office.  

Looking forward to living together,

Your Cuz





Pebbles In the Path
by Nancy Dunaway