Don’t Be a Dick: a Field Guide

I’ll level with you. We both know you’re well-meaning and want to do what’s right by people. Perhaps you believe you’re a pretty solid human being, and while maybe some of your manners are ill-informed or nonexistent, hey, people will see through that right? But sometimes… well sometimes your friends avoid coming over to your house. Or don’t like to go out to eat with you. Or somehow always fail to introduce you to their non-white friends. It could be they just don’t know the right way to say… you’re fucking up. And it makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes you’re just an asshole and you’re fine with it; the world is full of them. But in my experience, more often people just really don’t know they’re being a dick until someone finally steps up and puts them to rights. Maybe you’re the one that needs to clean up your act. Maybe you know someone special in your life for whom this guide will be your only-slightly-passive-aggressive way of telling them they act like they actually were born in a barn where wolves nursed them to infantile adulthood.
 

Welcome to “How to not be a dick: a field guide.” Please keep this close by for near-shitty-moment encounters.

 

Hosting: Part 1

Alright. You’ve got some friends or family coming to pay you a visit, and they’re going to stay at your place. Obviously you’re stoked right? Right? Well even if you aren’t, here’s some tips on being a kick-ass host regardless.

 

Before they arrive:
 

If you do nothing else, you must have a clean space for your guest. Shut up. I don’t care about your ego. Look at this list:

 

  • Clean towel(s). MOST IMPORTANT THING. SERIOUSLY. Every guest gets their own clean towel to use while staying with you. Non-negotiable.

  • Clean bedding. Sheets, pillowcase, blankets, the lot. Also non-negotiable.

  • Bathroom. Clean your toilet and your bathroom sink. Tidy up so there aren’t like 12 pairs of dirty underwear on the floor or whatever.

  • Kitchen. They need a clean sink and counter, clean dishes to use, and a fridge that has no rotten shit in it so they feel safe putting leftovers there.

  • For whatever room your guest is staying in: clean floors. A place for their luggage.


Arguably, you should clean your whole damn place. Don’t make your guest feel queasy while staying there. I don’t care that you’re offering your space and so “beggars can’t be choosers” or whatever. If you don’t, you’re a dick. Period.
 

Okay. Did you do the above? Rad. If you like, take it to the next level for some bonus points:

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  • Make sure they can easily find soap, shampoo, toilet paper, a washrag, and toothpaste. Extra bonus points: having a spare brand new toothbrush in case someone forgets theirs.

  • Clear a closet space or dresser drawer for their shit.

  • Buy some snacks and beverages they’ll like. This varies from guest to guest; you know these people well enough to host them so I’m sure you can figure it out.

  • If you have an extra set of keys, get ready to lend them to your guest. You’ll probably be at work at least one of the days they are here and you want them to be able to explore the city while you’re busy.

 

While they are staying with you:

 

  • Do you have any ground rules? Say them. If you don’t, and your guest unwittingly breaks them, are you going to be upset? Yeah? Okay, tell them ahead of time and save yourselves the trouble. 

  • How long are they staying with you? If it’s only a day or two, DON’T LET THEM CLEAN THINGS. If it’s longer, only if they offer! Letting them lend a hand with the dishes or by cooking you a meal is totally fine, and you don’t want to take that offer of gratitude away from them.

  • Give them a tour of your space and teach them how the electronics work. The TV and its 13 remotes, Wi-Fi password, Roomba, towel warmer. You know, the essentials.

  • Offer a walk around the neighborhood or write them out a list of a few recommendations for places to get groceries or grab a drink when you aren’t with them.

  • Don’t plan their vacation for them! If you want, you can pick out some fun things for you guys to do together, but don’t get sulky if they aren’t interested. They’re probably here to see YOU, and that might mean they just want to sit around drinking and shooting the shit with you. (Also, if it turns out they expected you to plan their vacay for them, fuck them, that’s shitty. You can offer ideas but that shouldn’t be your job. More to come in the “How to be a guest” edition.)

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for alone time when you need it. Being over-extended and grumpy because you can’t ask for space isn’t helping anyone.

  • Do you have pets? Kids? (Same difference.) Keep your animals, human or otherwise, out of your guest’s hair. Ask your guest what their boundaries are and do your best to keep your hooligans in line. Maybe that means keeping the dog from jumping all over them or the cat from pissing in their suitcase. Maybe keep your kid from waking them up at 5 in the morning to play Mario Kart. (Just kidding, that was adorable.)

 

PHEW. Are they gone? Strip down to your skivvies and do a jumping-side-heel-click! YOU DID IT. Now you’re the best host ever!

Beholder Magazine 2020