How to wear out a Mari Gras party welcome

Just because I invited you to the house, don't assume I meant your extended family, including your third cousin twice removed on your stepmother's side.

When in doubt, call and ask. Depending on when you ask, I will probably say, "Absolutely." But there are times (and people) I will tell, "We've moved -- to Guam."

If you are the friend of a friend of a neighbor, ask before you go into the house and make yourself at home. One Carnival, I walked into the den and was surrounded by a sea of unfamiliar faces. When I queried them as to who they were, I got queried right back:

"Who are you?" "I pay the mortgage here, that's who."

If you are a guest in someone's home, do not consider the refrigerator to be community property. Shocking though it may be, for those of us who live along the route, we generally do not run a no-charge convenience store.

Do not dig through the liquor cabinet and pull out the best stuff. You are welcome to anything on the counter. But what rests quietly behind closed doors should stay behind closed doors.

Underage drinking, occasionally seen at Carnival (shock!), will not be tolerated. First off, it's illegal. Second, I don't want to be responsible for any kid other than my own. Third, more for me.

Take your beads home with you. We have plenty. And besides, I will tell you if I want those giant beads with the blinking lights (though you should know already I want those).

No silly string. No way, no how.

And, the bathroom is inside, not outside!