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Thu, May 23

Dear Annie: The stranger in my house

Dear Annie: I’m wondering whether you have a copy of a piece that I believe was in an Ann Landers column. It featured a woman who felt that someone she did not know was living in her house, and it was about getting older. I thought it was very funny but have never seen it again. — George H.

Dear George: I’m glad you brought this piece to mind. It’s “The Stranger in My House,” by Rose Madeline Mula -- later released with the title “The Stranger in My Mirror.” I’ve had to abridge it slightly below; read it in full at, and find out more about the author at

“The Stranger in My House,” by Rose Madeline Mula, copyright 1997

A very weird thing has happened. A strange old lady has moved into my house. I have no idea who she is, where she came from, or how she got in. I certainly didn’t invite her. All I know is that one day she wasn’t there, and the next day she was.

She’s very clever. She manages to keep out of sight for the most part; but whenever I pass a mirror, I catch a glimpse of her there; and when I look into a mirror directly to check on my appearance, suddenly she’s hogging the whole thing, completely obliterating my gorgeous face and body. ... I’ve tried screaming at her to leave — but she just screams back. ...

If she’s going to hang around, the least she could do is offer to pay rent. But no. Every once in a while I do find a couple of dollar bills on the kitchen counter, or some loose change on my bureau or on the floor, but that certainly isn’t enough. In fact, though I don’t like to jump to conclusions, I think she steals money from me quite regularly. I go to the ATM and withdraw a hundred dollars, and a few days later, it’s gone. I certainly don’t go through it that fast, so I can only conclude that the old lady pilfers it. ...

... For an old lady, she’s really quite childish. She also gets into my closets when I’m not home and alters all my clothes. They’re getting tighter every day.

Another thing: I wish she’d stop messing with my files and the papers on my desk. I can’t find a thing. ...

She finds innumerable, imaginative ways to irritate me. She gets to my newspapers, magazine and mail before me and blurs all the print; and she’s done something sinister with the volume controls on my TV, radio and phone. Now all I hear are mumbles and whispers. She’s also made my stairs steeper, my vacuum cleaner heavier, all my knobs and faucets hard to turn, and my bed higher and a real challenge to climb into and out of.

Furthermore, she gets to my groceries as soon as I shelved them and applies glue to the tops of every jar and bottle so they’re just about impossible to open. Is this any way to repay my hospitality?

... She’s taken all the fun out of clothes shopping. ... When I try something on, she dons an identical outfit — which looks ridiculous on her— and then stands directly in front of me so I can’t see how great it looks on me.

I thought she couldn’t get any meaner than that; but yesterday she proved me wrong. She had the nerve to come with me when I went to have some passport pictures taken, and she actually stepped in front of the camera just as the shutter clicked. ... How can I go abroad now? No customs official is ever going to believe that the crone scowling from my passport is me.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to


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