Ten Rules for Being a Good Houseguest (for my brother)

Posted on
Feb 15, 2010
Posted in: Top Ten

My brother just returned to the states (with his wife) from Hong Kong. They currently don’t have an apartment, and my brother is crashing on couches (both in San Diego and in Los Angeles) while looking for a new place. I sincerely feel sympathy for whoever is hosting him, because my brother is not the best of houseguests, and it’s something that no one in my family seems to call him on.

Case in point: Last visit down to S.D., my cousins and aunt were rendered nearly speechless by the fact that my brother made the guest bed he was sleeping in. I kid you not. And it wasn’t like the bed-making was recent. My brother wasn’t even around. They were just still impressed by the last time he made the bed, several months after the fact. They went on about it for hours (“He’s changed so much since getting married.” “He’s so responsible now!”). I, on the other hand, was chastised for not REPAINTING MY MOM’S HOUSE (both interior and exterior) singlehandedly.

They’re might be a chip on my shoulder about this. Just maybe.

Anywho, since you, Edward, are such a miserable house guest, I decided to list some rules you should follow next time you stay at someone’s house (the rest of you may read-along, but may find most of this remedial). If these rules are adhered to properly, people will resent you less, and not think about smothering you while you sleep on the couch. Until 2pm. Bro, are you listening? Sigh. Probably not.

Dear God, Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change ...

Dear God, Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change ...

  1. Make  the bed. Or the couch. It takes about 2 seconds, and it lets whoever you are staying with know that you value them more than a hotel. Plus, unlike the time I helped mom cook a 9-course Christmas dinner for 20 people, or the time I stayed with Auntie P. for 2 weeks helping her while her leg was broken, it actually impresses the family. But only when you do it.
  2. Buy some food. You know how you’re constantly eating? Someone has to pay for that food. 99% of the time, that someone is not you. If you’re staying with someone and attack their fridge in a scene of carnage reminiscent of Shark Week, you should probably replace some of the food. And replace it with comparable products (Don’t eat my entire artisan boule of homemade rosemary bread and offer a single hot dog bun in exchange).
  3. Don’t leave your stuff lying around. Remember when I walked into my bathroom and found a pair of shorts hanging from the shower curtain rod? And I picked them up and asked what they were, and WHY THEY WERE SOAKING WET? And you screamed, “DON’T TOUCH THOSE!” because they were your running shorts and saturated with your sweat? Don’t do that again.
  4. Make pleasant conversation. Remember how I hadn’t seen you in about a year, and you came over to our place and rather than say hi to either me or my husband you went straight for the fridge and started eating stuff? Next time, a brief hug and a “hello” would be nice. Since I don’t expect miracles, they could even happen on the way to the fridge.
  5. Don’t take my stuff. Remember when I found you packing up my video game console which I said I *might* be willing to give you? Don’t do that again. I was totally going to give it to you, but I kept it for another year (unplayed) simply to spite you for being presumptuous.
  6. Invite your hosts to join you on your adventures. You know how you totally ignore me if Aston or anyone else at all is in town? And the second they leave, you start loafing around my house again? That blows. You should invite your hosts to hang out with you, even if you realize they can’t make it, out of courtesy. Because when you refuse to take me skiing with you, I regress back to being 8 years old, and, consequently, may punch you in the balls.
  7. Light a match, dude. That stuff is rank.
  8. If you need something, ask. Using hand towels to dry off your face and god-knows-what-else isn’t actually done in civilized society. And “I couldn’t find anything else” isn’t an excuse. Just ask if you need something rather than ruining the fragile ecosystem that is my home.
  9. SAY THANK YOU. Or better yet, send a note expressing that sentiment. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. In fact, all you have to do is pretend that staying with your sister isn’t a huge inconvenience. Which means that all the eye-rolling, and sighing, and “I guess I’ll stay with you” comments NEED TO STOP.
  10. Offer pay for something. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Fill up the gas tank after you steal our car for the day, or after we spend a week driving you around. Buy us breakfast. Pay to fix the any one of the dozen things you broke over the course of your visit. You know, that sort of thing.

Oh, and while I really, really don’t expect this from you (hence it’s not part of the numeric list), you should probably bring your hosts a gift. Something small and tasteful to say, “Thank you for letting me stay in your home … and I’m sorry about the time I decapitated your Barbie.”

Because I still have not forgiven you for that.

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