How to be a good houseguest in case you forgot.

We have house guests pretty frequently.  Our friends know our house to be a haven for as long as they might conceivably need one.  That’s the way we like it.  We want to help our friends in need and consider them all extended family.   We follow a pretty strict code of hospitality.

This quote says it best:

“Hospitality is the virtue where you recognize that, in addition to being an individual, you are also part of a community. In the ancient Norse world, hospitality meant opening your house to travelers and treating people who came to visit you with the same kindness and respect as you give your own family. The idea was that humans survive by helping each other and that, in a way; all humans are part of the same family. You practice hospitality when you treat other people like they are your family, with kindness and respect…”

Basically if you somehow end up on my doorstep, I’ll treat you like you’re one of my children.  I’ll make you delicious food, give you a comfortable place to sleep, try to make sure you are not disrespected, make sure you’re cared for if you are sick, etc…

yeah, this happy.

You won’t even want your mommy.  My wife and I?  We’ve got this shit.  You are going to feel comfortable as hell and never want to go home again.  Ever.

You might think that is the problem I’m writing about but you’d be wrong.  Well then, what the fuck is the point of this?  This isn’t a rant; it’s a “look how awesome my family is” post. 

 Also, when can we come over?

Let me finish the quote before I respond to that:

“…The other side of hospitality is behaving well when you are a guest in someone else’s home. It might mean avoiding a fight with your cousin or helping the younger children get something to eat at a family gathering. In general, if you treat other people the way you would like to be treated, you will be practicing hospitality.”

Now I got this quote from the Nine Noble virtues for CHILDREN.  So this is in a list of things you might (should) have learned as a child.

Most children know to be polite, to clean up ones mess, to act appreciatively, to be nice and to not steal.  They get these things hammered into their skulls for the entirety of their childhood and pretty much have it down by the time they are seven, eight maybe?  They especially know to be these things at someone else’s house.

That list doesn't say shit about picking your nose!

Now, fast forward around 20 years, the ages of most of our friends.  Here is a list I made in no particular order.  I call it, “How to be a good house guest in case you forgot”:

1.  Don’t bring people over without asking first.

This usually happens in two main ways:

a.    Them:  “Mind if I come over?”

Us:  “Not at all!  We enjoy having you over.”

End of the conversation.  Then they show up with <enter random person here> and don’t make a mention of it.  Or <enter random person here> shows up after they already got here with no discussion of it beforehand.

b.   Us:  Hey, come over  <insert time / date here>

Them:  Ok!  WE’LL be there!

Us (In our minds):  Who the fuck is we?  Are you royalty now?

‘We’ is inevitably the other person you decided you could invite over without asking us.  In case you didn’t notice, that is very disrespectful.  Plus, if you just asked we’d probably say yes.  Please don’t make assumptions.

Sarcastic Yay everyone!


2.  Don’t drink all of our alcohol.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  When we have parties/gatherings/nights when we drink and you’re around, feel free to go shot for shot with us, (though be prepared to puke if you try to keep up with my wife), and if we’re not drinking and you ask to have a drink we’ll say yes.  We’re not stingy.  BUT (This next part is going to be in all caps for clarity)  DO NOT MAKE US HIDE OUR OWN LIQUOR IN OUR OWN HOUSE JUST SO YOU DON’T DRINK IT ALL.

But I'm going to make one of these hidey holes anyway because they're awesome.

I’m not talking at parties.  We have drained many many bottles of alcohol with our friends and we will drain many many more.  When you come to our house without any of your own alcohol and proceed to binge drink us dry for the next 2-3 days, so much so that we have to hide some of it just so we’ll have something to drink once you’re gone, this is not cool and is just wrong.  We are poor.  We don’t have money to buy more right now (Right now being any time this shit happens).

3.  Clean up after yourself.

So you come hang out for the weekend or a night or a week or however long and afterwards you leave.  The blankets you used are everywhere.  For the next two weeks we’re finding used plates and cups and your clothes and scraps of paper you wrote on and dvds out of their boxes and askew and books everywhere…  You get the picture.  Look, I know we say “our house is your house” but one of the rules you might not know about your house is you need to clean up your mess.  We are already very messy people, we don’t need help.  We definitely don’t need extra mess to clean up when it’s already hard to keep our own mess straight.

and house guests...

4.  If you stay for a while, offer to help us out around the house.

 We have big dinners a lot.  My wife and I both like to cook.  Here is what we don’t like to do:  Dishes.  I’m not saying you should feel obligated to help out after we feed you, and if it’s one of the first times you’re over we’ll probably refuse your help. But if you’re one of the inner circle please at least offer to do some dishes, or help clean up the table, or help put food away.

Thanks for dinner. I guess we'll be heading out now...

Oh, and another thing:  If you didn’t catch it before, we’re pretty poor.  We’d love to cook you dinner especially if you bring food over to cook.  When we have the ability to do it, we buy everything, but usually we don’t.  This would help a lot.

If you’re around for more than a day or two, help cleaning would be appreciated.  If you’re a long term guest, do your own laundry.  We want you to feel welcome and want to honor you as a guest, but it would make us feel less used if we got some help once in a while.

We’ll usually never ask for the help around the house, but doesn’t it seem like the right thing to do?

5.  If you stay for an extended amount of time, like weeks or months, help with the utilities/food/rent/cleaning is a must. 

This is not because we want help with this, it is because we physically cannot afford it right now.  If we were making gobs and gobs of money it wouldn’t be a problem, but we aren’t so please help us out.  Note:  Buying pizza once or twice a week is not enough.  We love you, but we’re poor.

Yeah, we use a lot more electricity when you're here, trust me.

6.  Do not bring drama into our peaceful house.

This is not a “Don’t talk about the terrible shit happening in your life policy.”  I mean we don’t want whatever you’re talking about to be happening in front of us.

Random, probably fictitious example of bringing drama into our house:

You:  I’m going to bring my husband over who is not ok with me fucking another dude and then I’m going to go fuck another dude in your bedroom.

Us:  *Facepalm*

Hey bro, I brought my friend. Problem?

7.  Don’t eat someone else’s carryout without their permission.

This should be obvious.  If you didn’t bring the carryout into the house, don’t eat it unless the person it belongs to is ok with it.  Pretend you’re at the office.  Don’t be “that guy.”

and by apple we mean carryout.

8.  Piling your shit in front of the door.

Our dog has pretty much taken care of this issue.  He doesn’t like things that aren’t his and so will go about making them his by pissing all over them.  So if you don’t want him to do that to your stuff, put it somewhere he can’t get to them.

This is mine. And that's mine...

9.  Don’t disrespect me or mine.

This should be a no brainer and yet some people come over and choose to disrespect our friends or family.  Here’s an assumption you should make if you’re a new visitor to our home:  Anyone else here is probably closer to family than friends and if you are stupid enough to come disrespect one of my other guests we (probably my wife before I can get to you) will forcibly eject you from our domicile.

This is just an example. We'd never throw out Billy Connolly.

10.  Don’t be a dick.


 If you need an explanation for this one, try not to come over.

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2 responses to “How to be a good houseguest in case you forgot.

  1. Big daddy, I’m *so* gonna print this entire thing out on the humongous color plotter at work (read: 3 foot paper on a big-ass roll) and post in my front hallway. See if I don’t.

    Also: butter. Just sayin’. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

    – Johnny

  2. Miss you brother. We just got a house. When we’re settled you’ve got to come visit. We’ll make things soaked in butter for days!

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