Finally, an IPS question with some balls!
It's time for the best in-law insults of them all: passive-aggressive backhanded compliments*!
Your house is so sterile!
Haha, yes, I guess compared to yours it would look that way!
What do you mean by that!?
Oh nothing, just that you seem to have a much more "free range" policy going on, I imagine Basra would look pretty sterile by comparison.
I like a house to look lived in!
Yes, I like mine to look lived in as well, although I like it to look like actual people live in it, not a herd of wildebeests.
What? My house doesn't look like that!
Oh no, I don't mean yours of course, but you see some people's and it is like they don't even care.
...How does he ever find things!?!
Well, it's rather easy really, it's either where he left it or it's where it is kept. I bet if you name a single thing in this house I could tell you where it is?
[Hopefully she'll pick something, if she does either tell her where it is or make it up, she won't know anyway]
Ok, my turn! Do you know where your hairbrush / ironing board / mirror / breath mints are? I'm willing to bet you don't!
What are you implying?
What? Oh nothing, just that these are things I've found if not kept tidied away tend to grow legs and disappear!
*Ok, so these aren't all strictly compliments.
The trick is to insult her without being directly insulting. You do this by implying things, as obviously as possible, and then shrugging it off with an "Oh no, not you of course" if you get called out on them.
Turn it into a game, see just how much you can get away with before they throw a strop, it sounds like she is already playing and she is winning.
If they do get really annoyed and stop visiting then I get the impression they won't be missed! Declare yourself the winner and pour yourself an extra large Prosecco to celebrate.
This post, and the people who upvoted it, have helped me achieve my first ever Mortarboard achievement. As thanks, here are some additional tips on how to insult your in-laws, nicely:
As mentioned, implying things, not saying them, is at the core of it.
In the comments someone has suggested following through with a sarcastic "Oh gee, I'm already glad we invited you over" since we're halfway there anyway, however, this misses the subtle nuances needed to be insulting yet friendly at the same time. It is too direct, leaves no wiggle room and no space for the in-laws to fill in the blanks.
Like a wily temptress, you must lean in with your insult, close enough for them to feel it prickling up the hairs on the back of their neck, building an angry passion inside of them, but you must leave them to make the final move of connecting what you are saying to them. And when they do, when the passion inside them is too much for them to handle, and they start to lean back, that is when you whip it away, leaving them spurned and unsatisfied!
It needs 2 parts to work:
- The blatantly obvious implied insult,
- The deflection to less obviously implied targets (which is them and your plausible ‘intended’ meaning).
Take my examples thus far: "compared to yours it would look that way."
We aren’t saying that one is better than the other, we are just saying that they are comparably different. Then we compare their place to Basra, just in case they didn’t get it the first time. However, we also say "you seem to have a much more "free range" policy going on", we take the focus away from them and place it on something else, the policy, we aren’t attacking them, we are attacking the policy, they aren’t untidy slobs who wouldn’t know a Dust Buster if you busted them over the head with it, THE POLICY is an untidy one which they could change if they wanted.
Same with the wildebeest and meaning other people; same with the breath mints and small objects being hard to find.
A sarcastic "Oh gee, I'm already glad we invited you over" doesn’t have that crucial second part, they’ll make the connection on the first part, that you aren’t actually glad, but it can only be targeted at them, you’ve leaned in and planted it directly on their lips and now you can’t get out of it.
So just remember: imply and deflect, imply and deflect, eventually they may grow weary of it and properly ‘have it out’ with you. This is your opportunity to get things off your chest and tell them what you don’t like about their behaviour during their visits. Or you could continue to insult them. Both are good choices.