Family/Friends who just drop by...

linda_inOctober 4, 2006

I was wondering if any of you have family members or friends who just drop by without calling first? Do you mind if they just pop in? Or do you nip it in the butt & let them know that you would appreciate a phone call? Just wondering how all of you handle a situation like that. I forgot to mention in-laws. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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We actually love it when people just drop by (good thing, too, because it isn't rare). I take it as a great compliment, in fact; they feel comfortable with me and in my home, and they feel sure of a welcome any time. If it's not a good time, it's easy to say so in a gracious way that doesn't make them feel embarrassed. Not being available 24/7 doesn't make you a bad host, but turning people away rudely does. Just let them know you truly regret that it isn't a good time, thank them for thinking of you, and perhaps suggest another time. Same as an inconvenient phone call.

But I know that not everyone feels that way, so don't drop in without calling unless I feel sure that it would be okay with that friend. If you would prefer people call first, then just say so, in a nice way. With so many people having cell phones now, it's really not asking much to hope they would at least call and say something like, "We're out for a walk and we're approaching your house -- feel like a visit?"

I find it interesting that Linda mentions "in-laws." They probably don't think of themselves as "in-laws," but as "parents" (or siblings, or whatever) -- which by definition they must be, to SOMEONE in the house. Does it really seem like such a big deal for people to drop in on their own children and grandchildren or siblings occasionally? Certainly it can get out of hand if it's too often. But I would sense a power struggle if someone resented a spouse's relatives EVER just dropping by, and certainly if they expected them to wait for an invitation.

If I am lucky enough that one or both of my kidz settles here, I will try to remember not to barge in, but if they or their spouses don't want me to come over until I am specifically invited, I'll feel distanced and rejected (although I hope I'd have the self-control not to say so).

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 6:03PM
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I have a SIL that lives in the same town & I haven't been in her home for nine yrs. I have a BIL who lives out of town. Everytime he comes to town to see his mother ~ he brings her here. I haven't been to my MIL's house in yrs. It's always here. It's like it's expected. My DH's parents are divored. We are having a get together with my FIL in a couple wks. We are going out to eat & visit before he leaves for the winter months. The problem is...DH's siblings will go get their mother and end up bringing her here. They will never ask if it's ok. We just spent the last two yrs building a new home. They didn't do this while we were in the rental. We've been in our new home for almost four months & I can see a pattern starting. It just gets old when it's always one sided. I had a talk with DH yesterday & he said that he would handle it. They never let us know when they are going to be in town. I have always been nice & tried to make them feel welcome. Now, I'm feeling like I'm being taken advantage of. For the most part, I don't mind it if I don't get a phone call first. I guess it's a respect thing. I was just wondering how most people felt about having people show up unexpected. Sometimes it makes a big difference on "who" is on the other side of the door. Ok, Ok, you got it out of me.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 9:23PM
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I also think it's wonderful, expected...just the way families are...
I can't imagine how awful I would feel if a family member...or a close friend were near by and didn't drop in....and by family I mean my family and my husband's family.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 9:26PM
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I don't have any family closer than an 8 hour drive, I wish I had family close enough to just swing by on a whim! Being out of the way of most of my friends, it is rare for one to just stop by as well.

I don't think you should have to have an appointment to stop by a friend's house, but a warning call a few minutes before you arrive is courteous. If I am in the neighborhood of one of my friends, I usually give them a ring from my cell to say "Hey, I am in your neck of the woods and thought I would stop by". Just in case they are in the middle of something.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 9:23AM
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I have the same issue with my inlaws, it annoys my husband also.

They live an hour away and sometimes they just would show up at our door. This wouldn't be too much a problem if they lived close by but because they drove over an hour we can't just send them home if we are busy. We have to stop what we are doing and accomodate them, which is hard sometimes. We don't have kids so we are often out and sometimes we will pull in the driveway and see they are hanging out in our yard. My husband did not give them a key to the house. He also has mentioned for them to call, that we are often not home. Sometimes they do call, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they call us from the driveway or sometimes they call us when they are leaving.

It is annoying and hard to deal with. Often I feel very busy working and taking care of our house and yard and I think agghghh sat. we will have time to relax and then they show up.

They only advice I can give you is that it is something you have to deal with. It is hard and frusterating however they won't be around forever. I would tell them you would appreciate a phone call however because you do go out and you would hate for them to drive to your house and find you are not home.

This is also a little harder for me because my family is far away and although we love eachother do not need to see eachother that often. We like it when we do, but my parents do not get upset and know we are busy and visit when we can. I see my parents 2x a year usually. We see his maybe 2x a month and his mom still complains about it. That makes me a bit upset because she is complaining about something when my parents barely get to see us in a year as much as she sees us in a month. But it does keep her happy and I have to tell myself that.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 1:41PM
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scryn, it does make a difference when they live out of town.
Thanks everyone for being so helpful. I appreciate it very much.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 7:09PM
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We live about 5 blocks from DS, DIL, and DGD. I walk a lot, but I never stop at their house w/o calling first. I recall my mom just dropping by at any old time and how inconvenient it sometimes was. My in-laws from out of town would call the day before a visit and announce they were coming, never asking if it was a good time or giving us a choice. I also never walk in my son's house without knocking as my mom and in-laws used to do, although I expect my children to come right in our house. We are going to be in my other son's area in January, and I cleared this with my DIL 2 months ago. I have a lot fewer issues with friends dropping by...wonder why? If I'm going to be in a friend's neighborhood, however, usually I'll call them on my cell phone on the way.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 9:14AM
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I personally do not like drop by visits; after working all week, I like to determine how I spend my time on weekends, not be interrupted by drop ins.
I guess we're all different.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 12:14AM
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We love people to stop by anytime. If it's around dinner time they are always invited to join us. Most of the time they don't though.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 9:23PM
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I'm with you, mitchdesj. I always call before going to someone's house and I prefer people call me first too.

In fact, the only person who ever just dropped by with no notice was my ex-MIL. She did it a few times, and the time which stands out in my mind the most was right after my first son was born. He was born about 2 weeks before Yom Kippur which is the Highest holy day on the Jewish calendar. You fast all day and spend most if not all of the day in synagogue.

Being a nursing mother, I was exempt from fasting of course, and with a two week old I just stayed home all day while my husband went to synagogue. There I was, nursing the baby, still new enough to not have much confidence, and my doorbell rang! If I'd had any presence of mind I would not have answered it but I stupidly yanked the poor baby off my breast and answered the door. It was MIL, FIL and at least one of DH's siblings.

I was shocked! Not only did they come visiting without calling first but they chose to do it on the most somber holiday! I didn't know what to do, I started to offer them a drink, then caught myself. They only stayed a little while, but it totally upset my day, and clearly upset my baby too! Poor thing!

You just never know what someone might be in the middle of when you go knocking on their door unannounced.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 3:56PM
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I don't live near any family, so they can't drop in, but my friends call first. I've never even asked; they just do it, maybe because I call them first and they extend the courtesy.

The very few times a friend has just come by without a call have been O.K. and (because?) they didn't stay, but I think lowspark hit the nail on the head when she said,

"You just never know what someone might be in the middle of when you go knocking on their door unannounced."

Cheers, from

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 12:44AM
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I think this is one of those "how/where you were raised" things. I would never dream of just stoppng in at someone's house, without first calling, even if I'm just around the corner in the neighborhood. My husband on the other hand thinks nothing of it, let's stop at..., makes me crazy....

On the other hand while it may annoy the life out of me if someone drops in unexpectedly on us, I deal with it graciously, which HE does not always do... go figure!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 4:19PM
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Thank goodness you have friends who care enough to visit - I always call and always take off my shoes but if I'm always glad to see a friendly face at the door, and I prefer people to keep their shoes on.

If I dont' want a visitor or a phone call I just don't answer.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 5:44PM
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Wow, I'm a little taken back by how many of you feel put-out by a visit from your in-laws. My in-laws are "Mom & Dad" and I'm glad to see them or hear their voice on the phone. We don't always see eye-to-eye; but, I know they genuinely care how we are doing & want to see us. I lost my Mom when I was young. Those of you who are fortunate enough to have your parents around are very lucky, IMO. My family is always welcome to drop-by whenever they can. My door is always open to them. I am always aware that tomorrow might be too late. How sad I would feel if I'd turned them away because I'd wanted to mow the lawn or go shopping instead. But then, I love my in-laws, BIL, & SIL...they are my family.

Reminds me of that old song..."Cats In The Cradle"....?

Cats in the Cradle
by Harry Chapin

A child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking before I knew it and as he grew
He said, "Im gonna be like you, Dad,
You know IÂm gonna be like you"

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin home, Dad, I donÂt know when,
But we'll get together then,
You know we'll have a good time then.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on lets play
can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do" He said "Thats okay"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said "IÂm gonna be like him, yeah
You know IÂm going to be like him"

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin home, Dad, I dont know when,
But we'll get together then,
You know we'll have a good time then.

Well he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, IÂm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile

"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin home, Son, I dont know when,
But we'll get together then, Dad
You know we'll have a good time then.

IÂve long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said "Id like to see you if you donÂt mind"
He said "Id love to Dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new jobs a hassle, and the kids have the flu.
But It's sure nice talking to you, Dad,
It's been sure nice talking to you........"
And as I hung up the phone it had occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me,
My boy was just like me..............

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin home, Son, I dont know when,
But we'll get together then, Dad
We're gonna have a good time then.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 6:11PM
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First of all when it comes to new mothers I don't get why people think it's okay to drop by. I find myself cringing at even ringing the bell or knocking (when they know I am coming.)

Secondly, I always call and say what time I am coming (it's usally when I am bringing dinner) and I show up at the exact time we agree upon. Never late because I know that nursing mothers can't wait. They are usually fitting a visit in between a feeding and pumping. For a new mom who is not a pro yet at breastfeeding I wouldn't want to upset her routine or make her feel uncomfortable.

Then I never stay longer than an hour. I rarely go and sit there to hold the baby either. Mom's don't need someone to hold their baby. They need someone to load a dishwasher or fold laundry. Ya know?

If they are not close enough friends for me to offer that then I rarely do a visit to see their newborn. I will send dinner via delivery service or I just give gift certificates for a gourmet market we have that specializes in dinners for a working couple.

As for the in-law drop by. Tricia I took offense to your post. You know I understand where you are coming from. But, I dont' think I have to be grateful for a MIL that drops by unannounced and welcome her in when I know she is going to pick up mail and read it. Or make me feel like I have to be on guard.

My family doesn't live in the area. I wish they did. When we lived close by I never was upset that they dropped by. With that said I don't exactly think I need to be grateful that I have in-laws that are bad guests to start off drop by.

Sorry but your post just seemed a little preachy to me.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 8:57PM
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The grass is always greener, isn't it?

We love our families so much, but no one lives any closer than 500 miles. I am so jealous of my friends whose parents, siblings, and in-laws live near enough and feel close enough to just drop in. But then, that's easy for ME to say, isn't it? I'm sure I have a totally romanticized idea of what it's like.

I do think that however you feel about it in general, this is one of those things that gets to be less of a big deal one way or the other as we get older and more experienced, gain more confidence and perspective, and lose some self-consciousness. I just love it when good friends just drop in, even unannounced -- although these days almost everyone at least calls on a cell phone en route, if not from home before leaving. Maybe 20 years ago it would have thrown me.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:11PM
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I never drop by friends or family without calling first. We all generally live in the same area, and see each other very often but it's usually talked about in advance. Everyone is always welcome (even in-laws although I may feel the need to pick up a bit more!) but I need/prefer some warning.

First problem I have with drop ins: I often don't answer the door; I live in an area where many sales people go door to door and I often just don't bother answering the door.

Second, I think it may matter what stage in life you are in. If you are retired or single without kids and are just sitting around reading, watching tv or gardening or doing things for yourself, it may be a litle easier to handle drop ins. But, I've got my hands full almost every night until about 10:00. I'm running kids back and forth to practices; changing diapers, giving baths, helping with homework, doing laundry for the next day, putting out clothes, etc. If someone just drops in, it really does cut into my kid's schedule. Granted, I guess they may not care if I run out to get that stocking cap my son needs for a school play tomorrow. You get the picture as I'm sure many of you have been there. If I know in advance, I can plan around them coming and enjoy their company more rather than feeling inconvienced.

I really don't know why people "don't" call if they want to come by. Does it really take that much effort especially since most people have cell phones now? I even call my mom before I go over there just to make sure they are home, and see if she wants me to pick up anything for her. I may wake them up if I just stop by and then they'll feel the need to stay up to visit. And, they may not be as active as I am, but I know that have schedlues and things to do and I respect that too.

Plus, is there anyone but me that just isn't company ready in terms of how they look? I always change into old sweats when I'm at home...and comfort at home to mean includes no bra. My hair looks a mess. Plus, I'm usually wearing strange color an entire orange sweat outfit usually covered in spaghetti sauce stains and milk (I got a bunch of orange sweatclothes at the dollar store --my husband's new nickname for me is the Great Pumpkin!)

Bottom line, you're always welcome, but please, give me ten minutes notice to comb my hair, put on a bra and some jeans, throw out the pizza box, pick up my husband's underwear from the bathroom floor and my kids toys from right in front of the door so you don't trip coming in! I guess putting the dirty diapers in the trash can outside may be a good idea too. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 12:18AM
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I always welcome drop in guests. I live an hour from our family and don't get a lot of guests, so would welcome a drop in visit. My siblings and folks all live within minutes and are always droping in to visit or talk. When we are down there we do the same. We just drop by and visit, it isn't a big deal.


Are you sure you aren't thinking about my house;) I don't have older kids but have a 3 and 1 year olds and am expecting number 3. I don't mind drop ins but don't mind the toys on the floor, DH's underwear on the bathroom floor, or the fact that I am wearing jammie pants, DH's t shirt and no bra. Actually I don't care if they see me with crazy hair, it looks pretty crazy most of the time.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 8:10AM
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I think the bottom line on this whole thing is expectations. I think it is unreasonable if the people who drop by are expecting you to be ever at the ready to entertain. Life isn't that way. And if you are constantly expecting yourself to be able to convincingly impersonate Martha Stewart without warning or preparation, you are being unrealistic.

People who drop by should be close enough so that the more formal aspects of entertaining can be set aside. After all, are they not doing that already by appearing unannounced?

If someone (friend or family) just drops by my house without warning, they had better be prepared to take what they get. I'll do my best to be friendly and hospitable but I may not have anything ready to eat or drink, the house may not be freshly vacuumed, and if it's gardening weather they may even find a bit of dirt inside the house. If they stopped by with the idea of pulling a surprise inspection they can just get over it. Such unexpected guests may find themselves involved in whatever project my husband and I are working on; they may NOT be offered refreshments. I HAVE intercepted such guests in the driveway and taken them along as I ran errands. But I assume (doggedly) that they stopped by without announcement just because they wanted to visit and not because they wanted to be entertained. If they expect more than that they may be disappointed.

Similarly, I don't expect myself to be able to perform miracles. Given proper time to prepare I can throw a pretty nice dinner party but I do not pretend to be able to conjure an event out of thin air. And I don't beat myself up over it. My house is never filthy because I can't live that way whether anyone else sees it or not. But there are times when it may not be vacuumed daily. There may be a bit of clutter, especially if the weather is nice and I've been out in the flowerbeds. If guests turn up without warning and see that I refuse to spiral into a depression over it.

Actually, I have just as big a problem with people who call ahead. There is one couple we know who call rather often and invite themselves for overnight or a weekend. In mid conversation she'll say something like, "Aren't you looking forward to the weekend? Do you have something fun planned?" When I answer, "Oh, no plans. We're just looking forward to relaxing," she drops the bomb - "Oh, wonderful! We are planning on being there Friday evening!" Too late to duck. And, of course, since a phone call was made, there WILL be the expectation that the guest room will be freshly made up, meals will be planned (and exceptional) and any other activities we may have been looking forward to will be postponed. Warning doesn't necessarily make guests convenient.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 12:12PM
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I'm not black and white on the issue. Depends on who it is!

If it's someone from a distance away I want to know first so the visit can be thoroughly enjoyed. I would hate to have to say "sorry, I'm just on my way to the dentist" if it was someone I didn't get to see often.

Drop in guests are OK as long as they are close family or close friends and don't intend to stay long, even though they may end up staying for dinner! By close I mean really close, people I can say, "great to see you but I'm too busy , catch you later" without worrying...the list is short!

For more casual friends I would prefer to know but would be gracious with a drop in.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 12:16PM
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Refeshments...I forgot about those...surprisingly that's one thing I always have! And, quite a variety of things too. I would be horrified if I had guests (even unexpected) and couldn't at least offer them something to eat and drink. I even feel the need to feed babysitters at off hours. I think I have that pushy food syndrome I got from my mom. I actually thought it was a law that you had to offer food and drink to people in your house even if they stop by unexpectedly - LOL

At least lack of food and drink is one worry I don't have! I guess that goes with having kids...messy house...but lots of food to offer! Nah, I'd still have lots of food even without the kids, I just love to eat too much!!!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 3:01PM
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People are making really good points. lindakimy, I thought your post was excellent.

Although Carla is right that it is easy to call ahead, I agree that sometimes it's actually easier if people DON'T call first. Yesterday, a friend who moved away was in town and dropped by. He knew it was okay, and it was. But his not having given us any notice made me not care that I was in jeans and a beloved, tattered Hoppity Hooper sweatshirt, that I had to excuse myself to walk the dog at one point, that the house was not especially tidied up, that refreshments were just whatever happened to be handy, that my daughter was entertaining some young kids who were running around, that someone else dropped in, too, etc. Some of that might have seemed rude or at least disorganized to a guest who was expected, but not to someone who just dropped in. As it was, he just joined in the family afternoon in progress, and we all liked our visit.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 12:50PM
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We never just drop in any place without calling first and clearing our purpose for the visit. We are very hospitable people but we expect the same courtesy. If we have plans and someone should show up unexpected we simply tell them we are sorry but we were just leaving and do.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 9:14PM
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I don't mind drop bys at all.

I keep some easy to throw together snacks in the pantry. A can of mixed nuts, some cheese in fridge. Always have asst. teas, coffee and soft drinks in the house.

Life is too short to call ahead for every visit. If it going to be a visit at dinner, a call ahead would be good, but even that is okay with me, since I always have enough or can stretch a meal to accommodate an unexpected guest.

I think if someone is comfortable to just stop by to see me, it is a compliment. On the off chance I am not feeling well, I just wouldn't answer the door.

Exception to the stop by rule is new moms. That is just plain ignorant IMHO. Those visits need to be scheduled ahead, and the visitor should bring a covered dish for mom to put in the freezer!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 11:37AM
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I am in the call ahead camp, definitely. When my oldest was just home from the hospital, my MIL, who lives across the country but manages to be just as pushy as if she lived next door, sent over one of her old biddy friends to report back on me. I was upstairs with the baby when I heard someone *walk in to my house* without so much as a knock. Downstairs was a grim lady who I'd never seen before, sniffing disdainfully as she surveyed my new-baby wreck of a house. Creepy. She stated her business, handed me and ugly baby romper, and left. MIL lectured DH all that night about my abysmal housekeeping--and they both thought this was a totally normal way to treat someone! Thank god I'm older and stronger and don't take this level of crap from her or anyone else, anymore.

Call ahead, asking, not telling that you're on your way. And never, ever let yourself in, unless you are positive your host won't mind.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 10:30PM
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Our household fully supports and welcomes unexpected drop ins. Mom always said that homes looked better 'lived in' anyway -- so I'm not worried about my guests running their fingers along the tops of tables to check for dust. I think Ma was right and fortunately, my DH agrees! We always have "something" we can thaw from the freezer or put together if food is a must, but it's usually just the conversation and company that the drop ins are looking for. It's nice to break up an otherwise "routine" weeknight with a surprise guest (our 5-year old especially thinks so) and if you can catch us around on a weekend, well, power to you! Let's go on the back deck and drink some wine! :-)

Conversely, we always call before popping in to see our friends and relatives. Not that we NEED to, in fact, we've been told numerous times to cut the 'can we stop by' calls out. Interesting how that works...!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 10:53PM
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I hate drop ins. I guess that makes me anti-social, but I work long hours and just want to be home and have some down time. If someone calls in advance that's fine, but I hate drop ins and they almost never get in the door.

Perhaps it's rude by some people's standards, but I really don't like having to entertain people on their terms and their schedule rather than by something mutually agreed on. All my friends and family know that I don't like it, and that I will not do it to them.

It works for me.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 2:08AM
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