Week Two, on the other hand, was a challenge. In addition to a few family members (who consciously opted not to come when everyone else was there), we had space and invited some friends from home. Of the four, two were ones likely never to have a chance at such a vacation any time soon due to limited resources. The other two were a couple and the invitation was a form of repayment (the only kind the husband might take) for all of the around the house handywork that he has done for us.
We may have been naive when considering the guest list for the second week but there are some things you can't anticipate. Below is a list of things to consider should you be invited to join someone at beachfront property free of charge for a week.
1. If, once invited, you declare that you would like to be in charge of meals and food for the week, don't come to the hostess (who spent the week prior happily catering to every family members needs) on your second day there and tell her it's "her night to cook."
2. When your hostess is grudgingly making dinner that second night, it is not appropriate to hover in the 3'x5' kitchen area, looking busy and getting in the way.
3. Also consider keeping your 2 oz. of pasta per person opinions to yourself. Back seat cooking is strictly prohibited. Have you seen these people eat?
4. It is not appropriate to head to the kitchen any time you hear someone in it. (see #2)
5. When "the whole gang" goes out for ice cream and you offer to pay, do not point out your family members to the cashier and say you will only be paying for "these four."
6. The person who pays gets to decide the thermostat setting. When someone sets the thermostat at 71 degrees, believe me when I tell you, they will notice it if you move it up to 76 and they will not be the Dude and they will not abide. There are many blankets available and it is quite warm outside.
7. When you offer to take care of food for the week, please realize that not everyone is going to want to eat the 20 lbs of chicken you had leftover from church camp for the entire week.
8. Regarding meals and gratitude. All religions are respected. Knowing that your hostess is not of a Christian denomination, it is rude to have prayer before meals that is all Jesus all the time. Your hostess will not complain because she is classy like that, but by the third time around, she will not hang out to be a forced participant.
9. The Coffee Conspiracy. Caffeine manipulation is a heinous crime punishable by torture. When your hostess comes home, she will realize what you have done and your secret motives behind the nightly coffee prep. She will no longer hold herself responsible for her less than pleasant demeanor and needing a nap after coffee each morning.
10. Complicated card games involving mental acuity are not appropriate when ages and I.Q.s range from 30-72 and 100-140. You might win, but it will be a shallow win. Also, you might find that the "stupid" person you thought you would beat will kick your ass.
11. If you come early enough to play some poker with the kids, please realize that we are not out for blood. Taking money from children is ugly. The really astute ones will say quite bluntly "I don't like it when you play."
12. Handing said children $10 as they leave does not repair your reputation nor does it qualify as "taking care of" the kids.
13. If you are a financially secure relative who was initially supposed to pay for your week of vacation, it is not appropriate to later ask "how much do I owe you." You looked into the rental, you knew the cost. Your 25% offering is insulting and does not relieve you of the responsibility of saying thank you. Even when you call later to make sure everyone got home.
14. Racist innuendos (while not full blown jokes) are offensive. Beach or no beach. Free or not free. Guest or relative. You stupid fuck.
On a positive note,
15. If you are a resourceless guest, you completely earn your keep by telling Chuck Norris and pirate "aargh" jokes for the week. Really. You are a treasarghre
What's a pirate's favorite breakfast? Pop Taarghts
How does the pirate get revenge? Kaarghma
16. Multiple references to The Big Lebowski are also welcome.
17. If you feel you are unable to adequately express your gratitude because you are overwhelmed, we understand and are really glad you could come. Your hugs and the sparkle in your eyes says it all.
18. Also your ability to make me laugh loudly and at great length in spite of the annoyances is a gift I can never repay.