Being a good guest requires even more sensitivity than being a good host.
You’re in someone else’s domain, for God’s sake, and you’ve got to be sure to stroke their ego while not breaking their vases.
As a diehard cheapo who stays in other people’s houses for a living, I know for a fact that the worst guests …
(5) Bring an extra guest without asking.
Unforgivable! This isn’t some crash pad for you and everyone you’ve ever met.
(4) Raid the fridge without permission.
And does this all through the night, while the host is asleep, so they wake up to an empty fridge and have to go on a massive re-stocking process.
You’re not worth it! You should have brought a candy bar!
Next time just wait for the go-ahead — i.e., the host saying, “Help yourself to anything we’ve got.” Then think of it as a game show.
(3) Expect to be entertained at every moment.
Yes, your host is giving you a place to stay, but you’re not three years old, and they’re not your mommy.
You should have at least brought a book (along with the candy bar).
(2) Use the host’s toothbrush.
I did this once — long story — and it ended the friendship. It almost ended my life. Terrible faux pas.
(1) Don’t bring a gift or even send a thank-you card.
Were you raised in a barn? You should always show up with a bottle of something and some flowers (in addition to the candy bar and the book), and the second you leave, you must call or write a gushing and sincere thanks, pinpointing just what was so great about the experience.
It’s only polite — and besides, you won’t be invited back otherwise.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 28, 2011