Our guest columnist

'Elpful 'Ints from Esther

Dear Esther,
Next week I am expecting an unexpected visit from one of my husband’s poker pals.  This guy’s a real prize.  He marches all over the country marauding villages, stealing their cattle, and making a big mess.  Hubby dear has made a covenant with the rascal’s boss, and that means that he drops by occasionally asking for help:  a bite to eat, a drink of water, information concerning the whereabouts of local, trouble-making prophetesses, that sort of thing.  The problem is, he’s a bad example for my children.  He is always belittling the Hebrews in the neighborhood, he has a mouth like a Philistine, and he hums bits and pieces of epic poetry that they just don’t need to hear yet.  (I’d like them to grow up to be a bit more cultured.  These city guys don’t even know how to milk a camel!).  And sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision taking sides with these goons.  My father was always faithful to the Hebrews, even when they were going through hard times.  He said that our people came here with them on their journey through the Sinai desert, and that they had invited us to live among them as brothers.  He also told me incredible stories about their God.  The gods of the Canaanites just look silly in comparison.  If their God ever chooses to help them out again, and we’re still in covenant with their enemies, that would surely spell bad news.
So here’s the situation.  What I want to know is, what would be appropriate to serve to this creep when he shows up next week?  My tablet on etiquette is chipped when I get to this subject.  I don’t want to overdo it, because I certainly don’t want to send the wrong message.  (My husband will be away on a business trip, and there could certainly be opportunity to miscommunicate).  I want to fulfill the terms of our partnership, but let him know just how welcome he is in our tent.  How do I make sure that he gets the point (right through the noggin, if possible)?
Crazed with Canaanites in Kedesh

Dear Crazed,
I know exactly what you’re going through, darling.  Believe me.  My own husband had a poker friend that came out of the same cookie-cutter.  He strutted around like a rooster and crowed about as much.  He was practiced in the art of flattery, so my husband liked to keep him around.  Our silly little men with their great big egos!  When he started picking on my kin to appease his petty jealousies, I decided that enough was enough, and took matters into my own hands.  What I found was that a bit of hospitality can be just the thing to get rid of those pesky spouse-pals.  I know that it’s counter-intuitive.  (The last thing you want to do for these bozos is bake them a cake).  Just consider it an investment in pest control.  You’ve heard that old proverb, “kill them with kindness?”  Sister, you don’t know just how effective that can be!
Now for my pest, I decided to pull out all of the stops and throw a banquet, two of them in fact.  I hated to go to all of the trouble, but it was the only bait that a jerk my size would bite.  In your case, I expect that far less will do.  Wait and see what is expected of you, and then give just a little bit more.  Fight every impulse to be rude and impolite.  Remember, “kill him with kindness.”  Say that over and over again to yourself until you have seized on just the right moment to capitalize on it.
Now, when that moment has come, you have to be prepared for a nasty bit of work.  I had the royal guard at my disposal to take care of the gruesome details, but you’re probably going to have to resort to some good, old-fashioned,  home-making housewife ingenuity, and as every housewife knows, that means getting a little messy.  There’s a widow lady in your parts who was in a similar predicament.  She got rid of a nasty general who was causing trouble in her neighborhood by getting him drunk on his own wine and then beheading him with his own sword.  I would imagine that you can make use of your own simple, household tools and achieve results no less dramatic.  Just be sure not to get too squeamish in your moment of victory, and you’re sure to have a smashing success, darling.  Remember the motto of the happy Hebrew housewife:  Kill him with kindness!
Sisera gets a peg in the head for dessert