Thursday, September 26, 2013

10 simple rules for being a good guest (an oxymoron because there are no good guests.)

Overnight guests were invented to introduce torment where none existed. if you are about to be a guest here are some rules to make you barely tolerable. (Family not included, of course.)

1. Upon arrival, give a precise (to the minute) departure time.  Even before you say hello, say “I’m leaving Tuesday at 9:35 a.m.” The most distressing issue of overnight guests (outside of having them at all) is not knowing when they are leaving.  The worst answer is “I’m not sure.”  No?  Why not?  My life is not an open-ended deal at your disposal.

2.  Make your footprint as small as possible.  If you are a large person, hunch into yourself.  There’s nothing less lovable than a big ole guest hogging all of the oxygen in the room. On this issue, don’t bring a large suitcase.  Nobody wants all of your stuff in their house or any of your stuff.  They already have too much of their own stuff.  Come with a backpack or a small plastic bag.

3.  Don’t ask questions about the habits of your hostess.  There’s nothing more annoying to the hostess than having to explain why she does all the weird things she would do in peace/privacy if you weren’t there to question.  Don’t ask anything.  Not even where she got the bayonet or the saber.  You don’t need to know.

4.  Don’t lounge on the hostess’ furniture as if you are in your college dorm.  Furniture, though it might look shabby to you is precious to her. In fact don’t lounge.  It makes you look as if you own the place and breeds resentment.  Sit up straight and keep your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap.There aren't words to address a guest who lies prone on the couch.

5.  Don’t take a long shower and leave zero hot water for everyone else.  In fact, don’t take a shower at all.  Hearing the shower running for more than twenty seconds makes the host see dollar bills flying out of the window. Showering is overrated and creates laundry.  Needless to add don’t leave wet towels anywhere.  There’s nothing that reminds a hostess of a recent guest more than a wet towel.  And it isn’t a fond memory. It’s up to you how you make the towel dry.

6. Just because you are a guest doesn’t mean you must talk.  Think of talking as a bank account that only has a hundred dollars left and you have to ration it out for a year. Besides showing up at all, talking too much is an indelible black mark that will be on your forehead like an Ash Wednesday smudge that brands you as insufferable.  Bring a book and read on the porch.

7.  Slip out of the house early in the morning and get your own breakfast at the corner Starbucks but leave a note so the hostess doesn’t think you had a heart attack in your bed and now she has to do something with your body.   If you do go to Starbucks bring back a bag of Starbuck goods for the rest of the house.

8. Ask if you should keep your shoes on inside the house (especially if they are full of sand or mud).  If you walk into the house with muddy or sandy shoes, the hostess will remember. And not in a good way.

9.  Don’t argue with the hostess about anything.  If she says something is blue that is clearly red, it’s blue.  Period.  This is not the time to prove a point. She is probably not thinking straight because you are there.

10.  Call the day of arrival and cancel.  Something came up and you can’t come.  Your hostess might say “too bad” but her heart is singing, “Oh, happy day.”  The house is clean.  She has a fridge stocked with good food and nobody’s coming.  What’s better than that?


  1. I am laughing hysterically, and asking permission to print this and hand it out to my husband's family repeatedly throughout the year.

    Numbers 2,6, 9 and 10 will be in bold red type.

    1. Hi Carlarey,
      Permission granted. Got a lot of e-mails on this one.