Friday, July 25, 2014

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

Right in the middle of summer, I'm re-posting my advice to guests.  Ignore at your peril.
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. 
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?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Importance of a fake laugh.

I realized today that I have perfected a fake laugh.  It's a good fake laugh. It sounds as if I'm having a good ha-ha over something that was said. My fake laugh is meant to appease the person before me.

The word "appease" is an interesting choice.  It means "pacify or placate by acceding to their demands." And why do I want to placate them?  I want to placate them in order to make the moment pass easily without bearing the burden of nuance, emotional extrapolation or lingering resentment. 

That's exactly right.  I fake laugh when I'm slightly afraid of the person before me. And what are the demands I am placating?  By offering some stale platitude or stale joke, or superficial assessment of life or contradictory evidence of common sense or just plain delusional personal long-winded bs, the conversational bully is daring me not to find them supremely amusing.  It has elements of superiority in it. You think the phrase 'daring me' is too harsh?  It's not too harsh.  It's true. 

My fake laugh establishes quick fake solidarity with a person that I will only see briefly but is important to the moment. A workman or the dentist or a cross the street neighbor. Many others. You know who they are.  My fake solidarity laugh will cement their neutrality and allow me to move on.    

That's right.  All of that.  Every bit of it.  I avoid any aftermath of an encounter with a bully with whom I have no emotional connection but who is in my life in a semi-important manner.
The fake laugh maneuver is not cowardly.  It is smart.  I'm sure the new Pope would approve.

Together with realizing that I had perfected a fake laugh, I realized that a fake laugh is one of the best social tools right along with eating with your mouth closed and saying 'please' and 'thank you.'

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What urinary tract infection are you?

This morning I took one of those personality divining tests offered on FB.  You know the kind, What character on Downtown Abbey are you? What color are you? What kind of chocolate are you?  

This morning's test was "What urinary tract infection are you?"  I thought there was only one type of urinary tract infection but apparently there's a whole menu of them.  There's slow and lazy, hot-tempered rampaging, sneaky invasive, shy and hiding and a millennial child infection that keeps coming back to live with you.

I answered a few questions such as When you enter a crowded room do you head to the center of activity or just drink yourself blind on the outer rim?
Do you wake up cheerful and ready for a new day or are your first words, "What fresh hell is this?"
What tv show would you be likely to watch a) Religion and Ethics b) I want to marry Harry c) The Walking Dead

It turns out I am the hot-tempered rampaging urinary tract infection.  Once I found this out, - that very moment - as I contemplated some self-knowledge that had been eluding me all of my adult life, I finally had the currency to effect real and total change. I had gained uncorrupted insight into my deepest self.  It was life changing.