No one wants to be bad company. Not even the band.

I can’t remember the last time I spent a weekend at home, probably because a nice restaurant here is considered Applebee’s or Pizza Ranch (Ooh, choices!) Add that to the fact we don’t have a Target, multiple that significant setback by at least five when I tell you the miniature golf course upped their prices for popsicles last year and I know you’re feeling my pain on an exponential level.

Those popsicles are $1.25 apiece now. Are you kidding me? If I’m going to pay more than a buck for flavored ice that’s paradoxically frostbitten AND melted, I’m going to do it in Omaha, even if it takes a price tag of $50 in gas to get there. Omaha popsicles – now with 100 percent more sweet victory and tart smugness. Suck on that, hometown economy.

Sends shivers down your spine just looking at it, doesn't it?

These are just a few major reasons I head out of town quite frequently. Most times, the weekend sneaks up on me like a ninja. I’ll be typing away in my windowless cubicle day after monotonous day just to realize it’s five p.m. and Friday and RUUUUNNN!

Only safely on the road and a good distance from town do I turn my worriment toward finding a place to stay. Luckily, I have incredible friends in surrounding cities who always take me in at a moment’s notice. They get it. Could it be they understand because they’ve unknowingly been lured here under false pretenses of “clubbing it up” some weekend when I couldn’t escape, desperately needing their support to make it through?

Heh, heh, heh.

The Amigos portion of the itinerary is my favorite part of the evening, but who doesn’t love a 2 a.m. burrito to get the taste of cheap drinks and the feel of old, strange men’s lingering stares off their mind? Not to mention it’s my way of apologizing for my shameless trickery. Amigos for my amigos! Yes, I let them splurge on tater tots with a side of ranch. I’m a good person.

Really.

One night here and they’re calling me on the phone later that week, cajoling me with weekend plans of live sporting events, wine and shopping in a town with (gasp!) an interstate system. Malls. More importantly – shoes that aren’t from a Payless Shoe Source.

Your source for officially knowing when you've given up on life.

Like I wouldn’t just show up on my own.

After multiple nights spent on a futon or inflatable mattress, living on travel-sized beauty products and wondering if it’s ok to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night in my undies, I suppose I consider myself somewhat of a houseguest expert. Therefore, I’ve taken the liberty to compile the five most important tips to keep in mind if you find yourself in the same predicament.

So much for a brief intro.

1. No “Don’t mind if I do” attitudes allowed.
That fancy face wash and spare change screaming “Take me!” on the bookshelf? They’re not yours. Neither is the toilet paper. Just kidding, unless house rules indicate otherwise and then you had better hope there’s a Target or nice oak tree outside to solve your most immediate dilemma. If you don’t heed this warning, you may end up borrowing the toothbrush that cleans those problematic grooves in the bathroom tile. Or the dog’s teeth. Not so minty fresh anymore, are we?

2. Manners. Get ‘em.

"Oh! Oh, God - it's like a tinier version of Andrew Zimmern from 'Bizarre Foods.'" "Just...leave it outside for now...we'll figure out what to do with it later."

You know all those pleasing interpersonal skills you use in job interviews to sell yourself? Quiet, pleasant, respectful, considerate and helpful are a few. Dust those off and while you’re at it, put the dishes you just used in the dishwasher, too.

If you aren’t constantly questioning if you’re doing your part as a houseguest, guess what? You’re a horrible houseguest. Don’t worry (too much) though. The guilt may be free, but it’s still part of the price you pay to stay at another’s home.

Some common questions that may run through your head that require a responsible, physical response discounting running away are:

  1. Do you think they’ll agree that the coffee I spilled adds a certain amount of retro flair to their armrest?
  2. Are cabinets typically so flammable?
  3. If I fix this showerhead I just broke with gum, will it outlive my stay?
  4. Did I remember to let the baby back in? Wait. Do babies have to be let out to pee? Wait. Did they even have a baby?

3. Clean up after yourself.
When you leave, at least make sure your bed looks like a five-year-old attempted to make it. Plus five points for leaving some of the corners un-tucked so the homeowners can feel like they’re needed. It makes their house feel alive again, they’ll say. They can almost here the pitter-patter of little feet again, they’ll comment, turning to one another and smiling gently. Of course, that’s all before they discover the beer bottles piling up in the yard and that you just accidentally dropped their wedding album into the baby pool in which you were skinny dipping.

4. Show a little gratitude, man!
Still feeling guilty? Good, but it’s still not enough and you’ll have to actually pay/be accountable for something a bit more tangible. Something that comes with a receipt and can be documented. Might as well make it something you would enjoy or benefit from as well so everyone feels at home. I recommend a bottle or two of wine, sending an e-thank-you with a link to your sweet blog (No, you’re welcome), or thick steaks they can cook up conveniently when you visit in a fortnight, which is really unexpectedly tomorrow upon accidentally locking yourself out of your apartment.

Still thinking about it, aren't you?

5. Don’t act like you own the place.
If it were your place, would you leave the lint freshly cleaned out from between your toes on the countertop? Oh, you would? Well, don’t do that!

While you’re not at it, don’t help yourself to that last piece of pie, sit in the head of the house’s recliner or use up all the hot water or trust me – you’ll be the one in hot water! Well, you already are if you’re using the hot water in the shower. Lucky. I just meant…figuratively.

Still don’t get it? Take a listen to Nothing Painted Blue’s song, fittingly entitled, “Houseguest.”

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8 responses to “No one wants to be bad company. Not even the band.

  1. This post made me laugh! What? It’s not acceptable to leave lint from body parts on counter tops? Thanks for letting me know. 😉 And, by the way, I’m totally feeling your pain on not having a Target yet, and outrageous mini golf prices. Our mini golf place is like 12 bucks to play 18 rounds of I-can’t-really-golf-but-I-can-mini-golf-at-this-expensive-yet-mediocre-establishment. I know. You’re feeling MY pain now, aren’t you?

    • Wait, are you telling me there’s lint in more places than just between toes?! Whaaaat? (Where!) Never mind, I don’t want to know. 😉 Good Lord, that’s expensive…you’d almost be better off paying to golf at a real course and THEN just putting around. One time we paid that much to go putt-putting at a History of Video Games mini golf course. All bathed in a black light. It. Was. AWESOME! Mario and I are besties now.

  2. I am going to print out your list and hang it on my front door. Awesome.

  3. I had a toothbrush in my apartment, once upon a time, that I finally labled with am “I am used on the floor” warning.

  4. I have inured myself laughing! Your humor rocks!

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