Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guest Room Etiquette

Is there some sort of etiquette for telling people that their guest rooms suck? It’s a weird spot to be in. Whoever you’re staying with has already been very generous by welcoming you into their home in the first place, since we all know that houseguests can sometimes be trying. At first, having friends stay with you always seems like a great idea, brought up while you’re sharing funny stories over drinks in some cozy bar. “You guys should totally come stay with us! We have a guest room with it’s own bathroom and everything!” Next thing you know, your beloved former college roommate and her fat husband are in your kitchen at 6:45am wearing robes.

So when you’re the guest at someone else’s place and your accommodations are less than perfect, what should you say? Probably nothing if the host’s only transgression is that their guest room does not boast a view of the cape or come with a free spa pedicure. But what if it inexplicably smells like feet, or if the light of the “Pancake Haus” across the street constantly bathes the room in orange light? Is it rude to speak up, or are you doing the hosts a disservice by not saying something? After all, they’ve never slept there. How should they know it sucks?

I’m currently facing this dilemma, but what complicates my situation even more is that the hosts in question are my parents. Not only did these people fund all my orthodontics work, they also put up with my smart mouth at a time when my 7th grade algebra teacher physically put me into the trash bin and placed it outside the classroom window. My parents are good people.

Ok, their guest room doesn't actually suck at all, but it does have two significant drawbacks. First, lying on the full-sized bed is like sleeping on a rectangle marshmallow. It’s ok when it’s just me, but when both the Esposo and I are in bed, gravity rolls our bodies to the middle and we conk skulls. Second, there is a weird acoustical effect that amplifies all noise from the kitchen and projects it directly to the area where your head rests while you’re lying on the rectangle marshmallow. And I don’t mean just when people are shouting in the kitchen. I’m talking about your ordinary run-of-the-mill microwave dings and pot clanks, somehow amplified directly into your eardrum. Again, not a big deal unless your Dad has a weird tendency to unload the dishwasher at 5:30am. Which he did twice during our week stay there.

So, should I say anything? Well, the question is moot, since I already did by the time I got around to finishing this piece. My mom was surprised by the marshmallow bed and somewhat bemused by the kitchen noise amplification system. So we got on our hands and knees and figured it out. The culprit? A shared heating and AC duct that has openings in both the kitchen -- on the floor board, about a foot away from the dishwasher -- and in the guest room – near the ceiling above the bed.

But since they’re my parents (and they sometimes read this blog), l feel compelled to also make note of the really great things about their guest room. First, it’s in a finished, walkout basement, which means as a guest, you have the whole floor to yourself and can wander around with vertical hair and stinky breath without offending your hosts. Second, it’s sweetly decorated, and I am not at all biased by the theme, which is “Wendy's Childhood.” And third, it’s at my parents’ house, which means you’ll enjoy great food and generous hospitality.

So my recommendation is to keep your mouth shut unless you're confident that your hosts love you enough to invite you back, even after you've made fun of their rectangle marshmallow.