Seven million years ago, I went on a trip to Missouri to see my friend’s hometown, and I was a terrible houseguest. It was unintentional, but I cringe when I remember it. I was 19 years old and I hadn’t yet learned how to incorporate alcohol into my life. When I wasn’t hungover, I was on the phone with my then-boyfriend-or-something, and by the end of the visit, Friend wanted to strangle me.
There is so much literature on being a good host, but what about being a good guest? This dire mistake is part of growing up, I guess, except I would have been much better off if someone would have sat me down and said, “Ask before you use their bathroom…”
So, here. A few tips I’ve picked up along the way, many as a result of offending someone. I do these things so you don’t have to.
1. Try not to puke. It’s unbecoming.
2. If the hostess prepares something you’re not used to eating, try some, but don’t gorge yourself on it. Refer to rule number one.
3. Sit down and talk with your friend’s parents. Ask questions, and pay attention to the answers. You have these people to thank for bringing your friend into the world. The least you could do is appreciate them.
4. Bring a small host gift, or, if you don’t have one, send a thank you gift.
5. Leave it as you found it. You may not care about your hair sticking to the shower walls, but your host may be disgusted by this. Same goes with toothpaste, water droplets, and air mattresses. You may not realize how particular people are about their living space.
6. Contain your bullshit. This is not your house, and your host’s beautiful bathroom was not designed to display your 5 billion cosmetic bottles. This one irks me. I had a distant relative who would sprawl out in my grandmother’s bathroom, and I thought, how rude. When you’re done with your makeup, neatly tuck it away.
7. When in doubt, ask permission. Some people don’t like it when you hop on their computer or use their towels. I’m not even going to make a joke here. Not even going to touch it. Ahem.
8. Wake up when your host does. Nothing sucks worse than a loud guest clomping around when you’re trying to sleep (likewise, when your host is ready to start the day and you’re still snoring).
9. Opt for a shorter stay. My mom insists that 3 days is the limit. I would say no more than 4. People think that they want to house you forever, but when you’re spending 24 hours a day with someone, you can start to wear on one another. It’s not that they don’t love you, but in real life, you would not have this much togetherness. Leave before they want you to.
10. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If your hosts aren’t pounding whiskey or doing drugs, neither should you be indulging (though perhaps you need new friends). You came to see them in their natural habitat, now act like it.
Any other tidbits that I’ve missed? Post in the comments below. I’m curious to know what sort of horrible-guest stories you have.
“My grandma say, ‘When I die, I come back and I tell you what it’s like,’ but she no come back, so I don’t believe it.”