License to Poach12/01/2010 01:00AM ● By Eugene Buchanan
License to Poach
by Eugene BuchananReminiscing on a year that sa117 guest days by Eugene Buchanan
A lot of people have grandiose dreams of owning a house in a ski town -- a minimal commute to the slopes, ski rack inside the front door, crackling fire, even a strategically positioned dump light outside to monitor snowfall. When we built our home in Fairview, however, we learned that it also has its pitfalls. The culprit: out-of-town guests and their penchant for poaching floorspace. It doesn’t matter if they’re invited or not: they all leave empty toilet paper rolls and socks buried in the sofa. At first it didn’t bother us: my wife and I were excited to shooff our 1,800 square feet of log-strewn splendor. Besides, I had ample favors to repay from time spent on the other end of the couch. We started tracking the accommodation avalanche once it began to rumble out of control. Trashcans overflowed, the coffeemaker sounded its last gurgle and ground-pads lay scattered in a half-curled disarray. The municipality also began to take notice: bottles flowed incessantly to the eco-cycle curb; our electric meter spun like a compass at the North Pole; and the sanitation department called in reinforcements.The motel mayhem started Thanksgiving weekend when Tim showed up with three friends. Counting each body imprint as one “guest night” (four people, two nights), the tally soared to eight. Two days later, high school friend Jeff arrived, staying for six nights, bringing the total to 14. Then came the Great In-laInsurgency…cousins from Nebraska outfitted with 160-cm skis with safety straps and silver-toed Tyrolias. Three of them for two nights, snowballing the count to 20 before the holiday season even started.A festragglers brought us to Christmas and the dreaded Family Onslaught. Mom, sister, sister’s husband, another sister, brother, another brother, brother’s wife. Three nights each, except for Mom, who stayed four more so she could rearrange the kitchen. The day she left sathe couch pillows fluffed just in time for John and Keith, more holdouts from high school. Two more nights, bringing the total to 49. Then it was my wife’s turn to contribute to the count as her twin, overlapping with John and Keith, set up camp for nine nights. Fifty-eight and counting. A brief reprieve let us vacuum and restock paper towels before the next deluge. By February, two more sets of friends had played weekend warrior, and a brother and repeat visitor had returned for seconds. Then came the Great Infiltration, six friends for two nights, followed by the Second Coming of Mom and the Father- and Mother-in-laPenetration. Eighty-nine and it was only mid-February. Things slowed down, but we eclipsed the 100 milestone on March 19 with another visit from Thanksgiving Tim. The Infant Infringement, consisting of two couples, two cribs and two food-flinging babies, brought the total to 112 (we had no problem tallying the babies equally.) By season’s end, the final number read 117, with dogs adding another 32.Guinness might not have a couch-surfing record in its annual compilation (if it did, it might reside right next to egg-eating in importance). But even if they don’t give us recognition, it’s a number we’re proud of -- and one we hope will still stand after this season’s surfers have come and gone.
Hints for House Guests Planning on doing some couch-surfing on your own? Following are a fehints to make things easier for your hosts:• Shoup at the door with a 12-pack and bottle of wine…then return to your car for your bags.• Stash your luggage inconspicuously (behind sofas, in mudroom closets, etc.), not in the middle of the living room.• Offer to shop and cook dinner. • Volunteer to clean dishes.• Surprise your hosts with breakfast. • Fold up your sleeping bag and ground-pad each and every night, and stash them out of the way.