Houseguest Season: Being a Host not a Hostage

By Beacon Staff

Summertime in a beautiful Flathead Valley guarantees a couple things: playing in the lake, long evenings with friends, barbecues and, since we live in one of the most desirable places around, houseguests.

Since moving here, I’ve heards a long-running joke that says, “Welcome to the Flathead: Nine months of winter and three months of houseguests.” To be fair, most of these visitors are well-behaved, perfectly gracious and excellent company.

However, there are always a couple bad seeds who can ruin an otherwise lovely summer. You’ve heard about them – visitors who decide to stay for three months instead of three days or folks who show up to the cabin without bringing extra food or their own sleeping bags. For those of you who have experienced this type of guest, you know it can lead to either an awkward discussion or hard feelings with unresolved issues.

Joyce Wadler of the New York Times has a funny piece on the web site about the worst kind of guests and a book by Darlene Dennis about why they keep coming into our lives.

“It is August, high houseguest season. Many people are treasuring wonderful guests — old friends who arrive with thoughtful gifts and help with the cooking and cleanup. But there are others who expect the host to be driver, cook, entertainer and maid, and who stay for weeks, even months.

Harrowing houseguests come in many varieties, from Clueless (often in their early 20’s) to Aggressively Exploitive, but they share one trait: an uncanny ability to find hosts willing to place the guest’s needs before their own — people who become, as Ms. Dennis put it, hostages in their own homes. Two such people interviewed for this article did so in whispers, because of guests they were unable to evict.”

How have your guests treated you this summer?

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