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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Time to get a hotel room

No worries. This post isn't about illicit activities or sneaking around. It's about where you stay when you visit friends or family out of town.

This is a constant topic of debate among my friends, especially those who are still single. And it came up again yesterday.

Here's a little background: If you're single, out of college or trade school or whatever, and are working and supporting yourself, there is a good chance you are living alone, unless you just can't afford it or you are close to settling down with a significant other.

Until I got married last fall that was me. I hadn't lived with another human being since the mid '90s in college. Even then I only had a roommate for two semesters of college. And I liked it that way. I maintained plenty of friends. We spent plenty of time together. But we had a rule when we were hanging out - at the end of the day/night go home. Sleeping over at your buddies' or if you're a woman, your girlfriends' homes all the time is a perfect example of a situation where familiarity can breed contempt.

It was a great rule and worked out well, but a funny thing happened. After a year or two of living alone and never having any overnight company my friends and I developed a "habit." Our solitary space became as necessary to us as three squares a day. It became so necessary that when I visited other friends out of town I always got hotel rooms. When I visited home I got a hotel room. Maybe that makes me a nut. But I figured I was most comfortable when I was in my own space and could walk around without even the slightest worry of breaking someone else's rules. If I let crumbs fall on the couch it was OK. My couch. If I wanted to stroll around in my boxers and stay up till 4 a.m. watching movies it was OK. My time, my movies.

Seriously, I couldn't have fathomed anyone but a really significant other seeing the sun rise in my apartment. Even the thought of overnight company was annoying. The one time I tried to make an exception was for a friend of a friend. A bunch of us guys gathered in Milwaukee (my old stomping grounds) for a bachelor party. I volunteered to be designated driver, which should give you a hint about how this story ends. Anyway, at the end of the night we found ourselves back downtown at my apartment. It's where everyone else had parked. One guy had caught a bus into town for the party, and even though he wasn't my friend he begged to just crash on my couch. I was reluctant, but my buddy who knew the guy said he was OK. So I allowed it. Worst mistake I ever could have made. The next two days of my life became a Seinfeld episode, because after this guy slept off his booze the next AFTERNOON, I couldn't get rid of him. I woke up early, went for coffee and a paper. I got home. He was still there. I showered, changed clothes and went to the gym. I came home. He was still there. I went to meet a friend for more coffee at a shop on Lake Michigan. I came home. He was still there. But now he was awake, stretched out on my couch, remote in hand, a pizza on my coffee table - he'd ordered delivery. We made small talk. He talked about how much he liked my apartment, a gratuitous compliment if I ever heard one, 'cause that place was nothing special. And I dropped hints about how nice it was to blow through town occasionally. He didn't get the hints and finally let me know that because it was so late in the day at this point he'd just crash on my couch one more night. Especially since I had HBO, he said. This all started on a Friday Night. I finally got Couchy McFreeloader to get back on the bus and out of town Sunday afternoon.

That experience drew laughs when I shared it with my guys later. But it raised the question, where do you stay when you visit family and friends?

Maybe I'm a hypocrite for this, but I don't mind extremely close friends staying with me. I actually enjoy when my best friends stay with me. If they don't mind being in my (and my wife's) insane world, having my ever-shedding dog trying to eat off their plates, and my occasional insomnia, that's fine by me. I just won't stay at their homes if I'm visiting their necks of the woods, because I know I'm incapable of being as comfortable in someone else's home as I am in my own. I can't stroll around in my boxers. If a belch slips out I'm worried about offending someone. If I can't sleep, I can't pace at someone else's home or sit up loudly pounding away on my laptop. That's not comfortable living in my book.

Unless my friends/fam have guest suites at their homes that will afford me the privacy of my home at the end of the night, I'm getting a hotel. I don't ever want to be that guy who commandeered my couch.


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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:21 PM  

  • People crash on couches cause they're cheap.

    You're not cheap.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:49 AM  

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