Apropos of Nothing: Hosting Houseguests
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
There is a point in life, fairly early on, when we realize we will soon be actual adults. Adults that can make our own decisions, establish our own rules, and live in our own house where everything works exactly the way we want it to.
We can have sleepovers anytime we want, and we can invite anyone we want. Nobody can deny us such a basic right of individual awesomeness. We get to have houseguests at will and nobody can stop us. Yay!
Then something weird happens. We actually become adults, we make our own decisions, we establish our own rules, and we move into a house where nothing works exactly the way we want it to. Then we get a visit from houseguests. Ugh. Not again.
It all starts out hunky dory, with late night rap sessions, prodigious consumption of fruited beer, the viewing of a favorite movie from years gone by (think Caddyshack, Stripes, Animal House, or maybe the Goonies), and then we slink off to bed in the wee hours of the morning just barely capable of keeping our eyes open for long enough to find our pillow.
That was all well and good when we were in high school and could drag through our day half awake and only tangentially aware of what was going on around us. Now, as adults, there is a job to do, a paycheck to earn, and a long line of customers or clients or disgruntled, random riffraff that stand between us and quitting time.
Yet, there will be no peace. No rest. No true relaxation. Back at home you have houseguests. Old friends who are on vacation and deeply devoted to the party mode they’re in. Or worse, extended family who are under the mistaken impression you’d love them to stay for several weeks, or months, to keep you company and bring a bit of frivolity to your life.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you want them out, gone, headed back home or on to their next freeloading opportunity with some other old friend or distant cousin. You want them in another town. Better yet, relocated to another time zone. The sooner the better – and then the weather turns.
It’s one thing to risk the end of a relationship by pitching a houseguest who has overstayed their welcome out into the wild without securing reservations for them at a luxury resort or an island-bound cruise ship. But when a hurricane is looming, you’re honor bound to let them stay within the confines of your no-longer-private dwelling. You’ve become the hotelier to the unwanted. And you’re doing it at exactly the time the buffet table is most depleted, just as all the standard replenishment services go into lockdown.
Oh wait, it gets worse. The power is about to go out.
Yes, dear reader. It’s one thing to have a houseguest. It’s another thing entirely to be saddled with a visitor who should have left days ago but continues to linger in your living space. But it’s a special flirtation with Hell that comes when your dawdling boarder shares an evermore claustrophobic life experience with you as the lights go out, the air-conditioner dies, and the contents of the refrigerator begin to warm up to room temperature – especially when that room temperature is measured in terms of a Central Florida summer afternoon.
They say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But not now. Oh, no. There are trees down across half the roads in town, the gas stations are shuttered, there’s a curfew, and just for good measure, there’s another storm brewing in the Atlantic that just might be headed your way in a few days.
It is the fear of this very real scenario that has given me the strength to make the most difficult decision of my life. I’m going to become a hermit. Yep. Rather than suffer the horrific indignities of life at the hands of unwelcome houseguests, I’m committing myself to moving into a ramshackle structure so unattractive, so unappealing, so potentially unsound that no reasonable person would dare to spend a night in it without a full extraction team at the ready.
It might not be pretty, but at least I won’t have to fight over who gets to rule the remote control, and I’ll be able to go to sleep any darned time I want to. That works for me.