Having just spent the last four days in Nashville at board meetings for Folk Alliance International, and also as a house guest, I thought that it would be prudent to write more about being a house guest.
First of all, most of you have a cel phone, so be certain to keep your host or hostess in the loop. If the plane is delayed or if you are going to be later than you told them for any reason, let them know. If they are gracious enough to let you stay there, then they are gracious enough to alter their lives a little to accommodate your visit. Don’t hang them up.
Secondly, always bring a little something if you can. It doesn’t have to be much, just a demonstration that you were thinking of them before you got there. A bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers, a book that you know they would like--just something. Whenever I don’t do it, I feel weird. It is a wonderful gift that they are offering, so demonstrate your gratitude.
Get to your space in their home and keep everything in that space. I have said this before but it is really important to remember and to put into practice. Keep Consolidated. This is their space and you are invading it. Think about how people behave in an elevator. They all make their space and move if someone gets too close. Magnify that need when you are their guest in their actual home and not just a space in an elevator. Keep Consolidated. This also helps when you are leaving, as you don’t have to go all over their home looking for all your stuff.
It has been my habit, whenever possible, to come in a day early for the gig. This is a perfect opportunity to take your host/hostess to dinner; someplace that they love or get them to pick the place. Make certain that you pay the check. Sometimes I actually excuse myself as though I am going to the bathroom and then corner the wait person and give them my credit card, so there is never any chance for your hosts to take over the bill.
If taking them to dinner is a bit much for your budget, then learn to cook something and do that for them. You buy the groceries and you cook it. People seem to love being cooked for in their own home. And there are lots of simple dishes that don’t take more than thirty minutes to prepare that are delicious. If you can’t find any, email me and I’ll give you some of my recipes.
If you start to read something in their library, even if it is a magazine, do not take it with you unless they invite you to do so. And then make certain that you mail it back with a thank you note. People are always amazed when I return a book, particularly through the mail. Most folks, just never return a book they borrow, but I pride myself on getting it back to them.
Bathroom etiquette is very important. If they have a glass shower door, make certain that you squeegee down the glass when you get out. If they don’t have a squeegee, then use a washcloth. And always use a washcloth when you are washing yourself in their shower. They don’t want to find your pubes on their soap; makes a bad impression, trust me.
Keep the door closed while you are in there and make certain that you can come out of there without embarrassing them; robe or pants and shirt. When you sit down in there, make certain the fan is on, or the window is open and if they have those dreadful little aerosol things, spray it. Just hold your breath, as they don’t do great things to humans. Numbs the olfactory senses I have heard. And make certain that you flush and that you don’t leave any paper floating in there. As the American Indians say, leave no footprint, particularly with caca on it.
Strip your bed of the sheets and pillowcases. Put all your dirty linen together with your towels and washcloth and bring it all down to the laundry room. Let them know it’s down there so that the washcloth or wet towels do not turn into living, stinky things.
Call them when you get safely to your next destination to let them know that you’ve arrived and thank them again for their hospitality. And send them a note. Email if you must, but an actual post is pretty great.
And finally, when you are bucks up, think about the folks that have helped you on the way. Just send them a basket of fruit or a wine and cheese basket; something to demonstrate your gratitude and something that arrives in their lives when they aren’t helping you. It will knock their socks off and they will always be glad to see you.