By Millicent K. Brody
It’s the summer season which means you're likely to either have houseguests or be one yourself.
Because of the economy, many people have had to tighten their belts. They’ve traded being travelers for being spongers. According to the Random House College Dictionary, “Sponging” guests live at the expense of others. Spongers never make formal reservations. They go “Guesting”.
What most spongers do is set up a network of homes in a general area. Using their host home as a base, they get to travel and visit at the expense of others.
When you’re a guest in someone’s home, it’s important to keep the social niceties in mind. Or at least remember two rules: don’t be an inconvenience, and don’t overstay your welcome. Remember the witticism first made by Plautus in about 200 B.C., perfected by John Lyly in 1580, and recorded by Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “Guests are like fish, after three days, they stink.”
Nothing infuriates most host families more than shopping and planning for guests to arrive in time for dinner, only to receive a phone call about noon with the bold question, “What’s for lunch?”
That’s the situation a friend of mine found herself in recently. She obligingly trotted off to the deli for turkey, cheese, and bread, but a good guest should really find a place to have lunch, and then arrive at the house afterwards for a relaxing afternoon. In my friend’s case, she had barely finished cleaning up from lunch before she had to start dinner.
While peeling potatoes, she happened to notice her friend’s partner catching a snooze. Being a good hostess, she wandered into the den and quietly asked, “Ralph, would you like to take a nap?”
“You wouldn’t mind?” he asked.
“Of course not, why should I? Just walk into the guest bedroom and close the door.”
As soon as Mr. Guest entered the bedroom, he hurried back into the kitchen.
“You’re not expecting me to sleep in a double bed?” he asked rather seriously.
“Well, as a matter of fact, that’s the only bed we have in our only guest room,” my friend replied.
“I sleep in a King size bed at home,” countered Mr. Guest. “I don’t know how I’ll manage in a double bed.”
My friend smile sweetly and told him:
“You can certainly sleep in a King-size bed. There’s a really nice motel about five minutes from here. I know they don’t book-up during the week. Here’s the number, give them a call.”
Obviously, he did not leave. Nor did he volunteer to assist with doing the dishes, or remember to pick up his clothing, strewn throughout the house. However, he did remember to let my dear friend know that he’d be back, same time next year!
How to be a Good Guest
* Arrive when you say you will, and leave when you’re supposed to.
* Don’t create additional work. Keep the guest room neat. Notice what needs to be done, and do it. Don’t be afraid to offer to prepare a meal or baby sit.
* Don’t surprise your host and hostess with your children or pets--unless they were invited.
* Don’t arrive with a list of social engagements and expect your host to drive you everywhere. If you want to see special friends, make plans to stay at their home.
* In addition to taking a lovely house gift, plan to take your host and hostess out for dinner.
* Don’t complain.
* Even if the bed squeaks and the toilet overflows, don’t forget to send a thank-you note. After all, you may want to return. Good guests do receive rewards. They get invited back.