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Houseguests from Hell
by Luke Setzer

In the redneck farm country of North Carolina where I grew into a man, my dad and I attended farm shows to get a first-hand glimpse of the latest and greatest labor-saving gadgets.  Some proved themselves worthwhile and others a complete waste of effort.  When we rednecks saw anything that proved worthless, we had a saying:
 
"That is as useless as nipples on a boar hog."
 
Speaking of utterly useless things, allow me to share what I have learned about platonic relationships.  I want to tell you a tale in which I learned that such relationships have all the downsides of romantic relationships with none of the upsides of romantic relationships.  In more colloquial terms, they offer all of the nagging and none of the physical affections!
 
In college, I had a "platonic relationship" with a young lady named "Lorraine" who wanted to be "just friends."  When I began working full time for NASA in early 1989, I lived in a cheap but clean apartment near the beach in Cape Canaveral.  I made the mistake of allowing this young lady and one of her girlfriends named "Kathleen" to spend Spring Break with me rent free.  That week proved to be the straw to break my back with respect to "platonic relationships."
 
My casual bachelor lifestyle included frozen dinners with little to no other cooking.
 
"Lorraine, I like being able to pop a whole meal in the microwave so I can have it ready to eat in eight to ten minutes."
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, you have to learn to cook sooner or later.  What are you going to do, eat Lean Cuisine for the rest of your life?"
 
"Maybe.  That's my call, so don't bug me about it."
 
"You seem very inflexible, Luke," said Kathleen.
 
"Who in the world asked you, Kathleen?"
 
We had started the week on the wrong foot.  It only got worse -- much worse.
 
The topic of religion reared its ugly head.  My newfound atheism from reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand caused Lorraine even more consternation.
 
"Lorraine, I no longer accept the notions of divine inspiration, a Supreme Being or a life after death."
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, God offers us instructions for good through the Bible."
 
"What a load of nonsense, Lorraine.  I used to be involved with a cult called 'The Baptists' and I know exactly how their scam works now."
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, of course they were over the top.  They were the Baptists.  You need to pick a more moderate religion.  You grew up a Lutheran.  Why don't you go with them?"
 
"Lorraine, if the Bible really is true, people should live it as passionately as the Baptists do - and if it is not true, then people should not waste any time with any religion whatsoever!"
 
"Oh, Luke, you need to quit looking at the world in such black and white terms!"
 
"But black and white principles offer sound methods for living, Lorraine!"
 
"Principles?  You're living in a book world, Luke."
 
"Book world?  That's pretty cocky coming from someone who just told me a minute ago to live according to the Bible."
 
"You seem very inflexible, Luke."
 
"Who in the world asked you, Kathleen?"
 
Next, Lorraine poked her nose into my favorite hobbies at the time.
 
"What do you do for fun, Luke?"
 
"I like to stay home away from the crowds, relax on my couch and read a good book."
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, can you hug a book?  Can you hug a couch?  You have got to meet new people and interact."
 
"To be quite honest, Lorraine, most people out there are stupid and I would just rather be let alone."
 
"Humph!  I can see you becoming a very lonely person."
 
"Blast it, this is about my life, my liberty and my pursuit of happiness!  What in the world is it to you, anyway?"
 
"You seem very inflexible, Luke."
 
"Who in the world asked you, Kathleen?"
 
As we drove in my car down the beach highway, Lorraine and Kathleen relentlessly, tastelessly and loudly howled at the buff men we passed.  I politely instructed them to tone down their howls and to show better taste.  As payback, my so-called friend asked: 
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, why don't you howl at the girls?"
 
Lorraine then hurled at me one of the worst insults a man can experience:
 
"You must be asexual!"
 
"No, Lorraine, I just have better manners.  Now will you promise to do the same?"
 
"Ha!  Promise?  I'm not going to promise anything except to have a good time!"
 
"You seem very inflexible, Luke."
 
"Who in the world asked you, Kathleen?"
 
After about three days of this nonsense, I finally lost all patience.
 
"Look, Lorraine, I really have no interest in arguing my lifestyle choices with you.  This is my life to spend as I please!"
 
"Right, it's your life, but you're wasting it!  You've just become a couch potato slug!"
 
"I don't care what you think about it.  I don't care what you feel about it."
 
"But LUUUuuUUKE, don't I have the right to express my opinions?"
 
"Not in my home and not in my car.  I can't believe this.  I let you and your friend stay here, rent free, near the beach, during Spring Break, and this is how I get treated in my own home?"
 
"Well what exactly is a 'home' to you?"
 
"A home is a place where I can be guaranteed freedom from physical and verbal harassment!"
 
"That's not a home, that's a fortress!"
 
"You seem very inflexible, Luke."
 
"Who in the world asked you, Kathleen?  Look, we will not discuss any of this any longer!  Do you understand?  This is it!  The end!  No discussions!  No arguments!  I have the right to live my life my way whether you like it or not!  This marks the end of any debate about how I live my life, especially the part about the cooking!"
 
"You could get a skillet."
 
"That's it!  You can forget about ever staying here with me again!"
 
Needless to say, the remainder of their "vacation" in my apartment brought little joy to anyone concerned.  As we made that long road trip back to the airport, I informed her that I never intended to call her again.
 
"You mean you're never going to call me again?!"
 
"Don't hold your breath."
 
"Why not?"
 
"I do not need you."
 
She began to cry, muttering some incomprehensible statement about happiness coming from the inside while ignoring the right of people to be let alone to achieve their own happiness their own way.  The climax of her rambling came when she screamed:
 
"Go ahead, Luke!  Build up your fortress and shut everybody out!"
 
As I detached myself from these two pestering parasites at the airport terminal, Lorraine stomped away from my car, luggage in tow, snorting her final parting words:
 
"Bye!  Have a good life!  Think about what I said!"
 
That, ladies and gentlemen, marked the end of that, and brings me to my firm redneck conclusion:
 
Platonic relationships are as useless as nipples on a boar hog!
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