One of the side effects these days of the rotten economy is that people are staying with friends and relatives more when they go on vacation, and if that’s not incentive enough right there to turn around our economy I don’t know what is.
I apologize if the following advice comes late for those of you who have already made the mistake of staying as house guests with friends or relatives this past summer. If you haven’t yet, but are about to, I only have one word: DON’T DO IT! (Okay, so that’s three words but I thought my message was too important to leave to just a single syllable.) We should have had this discussion before you ruined your summer by staying with in-laws because you were too cheap to buy a motel room or rent an RV.
My advice is late because I only recently made the mistake of staying with relatives myself. I admit I’m not accomplished in the household arts but I thought it was a bit much for the mistress of our temporary accommodations to follow me around with a can of deodorizer and a carpet rake to get rid of all the footprints left behind by my Justin Ropers. She’s just lucky I pressure washed my boots before I went or else she’d still be getting stains out of her carpet, if you know what I mean.
I was in trouble for the duration of our stay merely because I drank out of the water jug, my car left oil in the street in front of their house, I put my feet up on their foot stool, I failed to put the sections of the Sunday paper back in alphabetical order after I read them, and, horror of horrors, I put a recyclable bottle in the regular trash!
And what’s the deal with all those pillows people pile on their beds and couches these days? I never did figure out the difference between those pillows that could actually be used, and those that were merely for decoration. Anyway, I supposedly ruined one by getting it all out of shape by using it as, get this, A PILLOW!
The guest bathroom we were assigned was a land mine for me. How was I supposed to know that I wasn’t supposed to use the little soaps in the shape of conch shells? I’ll admit by the second day they looked more like rifle shells but it’s not anything to start crying over is it? Really? When our host made the ghastly soap discovery I was informed that the liquid soap was in one of a dozen cute little dispensers surrounding the sink, and during the rest of our stay I washed my hands and face with a variety of perfumes, moisturizing lotions and cuticle removers. After I took a shower my wife asked, “You didn’t get the shower wet did you?”
“Yes,” I replied, as I had not yet mastered the art of taking a shower without getting the shower wet, too. I was told immediately to dry the shower out, removing all water spots, but when I did so with the stack of cute little paper towels by the sink you’d have thought I turned loose their canary. (More on that in a later column.)
Now here’s the delicate part: The bathroom we used was right off the family room where everyone tended to congregate. You can’t imagine, well maybe you can, how hard it is to try not to make any embarrassing noises while the entire household is listening. Turning on the fan or water faucet didn’t help as I needed something more like a loud John Phillips Souza march to mask all my ruminations.
The worst thing about staying with urban hosts is that my wife discovered all sorts of niceties. “Did you notice the thread count on the sheets?” she asked.
“Big deal,” I replied. “They had two, a top and bottom sheet just like we do.”
On the day we left we had to do more housework than gets done in our house in an entire year. For example, we had to change the sheets so the next guests would have clean ones, which we never do after guests stay at our house! And I hope that thought is enough to stop anyone from ever thinking of staying with us, because I think we can all agree, the only thing worse than being house guests is having them.
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