Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Living The Big Sky Life: Houseguest From Hell

Having grown up in a large family, I can say without hesitation that the notion of sharing space with a diverse group of intimates is far from abstract. The social skills one must develop in order to successfully navigate the waters of fishbowl living in cramped quarters with a bunch of other guppies is often underrated, especially when contrasted against the 21st century style of ‘electronic relationship’ that seems to require no physical interaction to sustain. 

Yet when I was growing up and it came time for the King family to vacation or spend any time away from home, we basically had two choices: Spend the night in a plastic tube tent at some campground, or stay the night in the home of another. Anyone who has read my LTBSL posts will know well my strong distaste for camping, so let’s just say that it was never a voluntary selection for me if given the choice. When it came down to fulfilling my rudimentary desires for a hot shower, clean sheets and real milk to drink, I determined early on that the friendly sleep-over was, without a doubt, always going to be my preference.   

Most of the people I know understand the common courtesies that go along with practicing good guest etiquette when staying in the home of another, and I made the mistake of assuming that everyone operated under these considerate guidelines until I had the misfortune of housing a guest who clearly didn’t get it. Not even a little bit.

Having played the roles of both host and guest on numerous occasions, I can say from experience that good guest etiquette is a necessary component for any respectable visit. While a clichĂ©d violation might be to overstay your welcome, you know you’ve behaved like a good guest when your host extends another invitation to visit as you prepare to leave. But I would never expect this invitation to be extended to me unless I’d been gracious to my host and respectful to the other members of the household while sharing their living space.

With 5 bedrooms, our home on the range was soon nicknamed “Chez Montana” because it was spacious enough to comfortably accommodate visiting family and friends like a B&B. And this included many of Chef’s out of state friends, which was frankly a good thing because the prospect of living the big sky life was a huge draw for the bros. Whitefish was “Boy’s Town” after all; and any guy looking to ski, snowboard, hike, fish, hunt, or enjoy whatever other communing with nature quality of life crap that big city folk wistfully prattle on about could find it all just beyond our backyard.

I also knew many of Chef’s old school surfing buddies because I went to school with them in Huntington Beach as well, and when they came to stay at Chez Montana, it was often like a high school reunion in our living room. So when Harrow came for a ski vacation during the winter of 1994, I gave it little thought, even though he was a high school chum of Chef’s that I didn’t know very well. What I did know was that he’d been a guest at our wedding, and of course, everything else I’d heard other people say about him, which was plenty. I also knew that he was the half-brother of Mamasan’s ex-husband, that he was a hair stylist, and that he’d always been crudely rumored amongst the bros to be a closet gay. Whatever.

All of the visitors who stayed at Chez Montana were put up in one of the two bedrooms downstairs. One bedroom was called the blue room because of its circa ‘70s powder blue shag carpet, and the other was called the green room, again because of its bilious lime/olive green shag carpet. The bedrooms were across the hall from each other, and aside from the ugly carpeting, they were sufficiently appointed with anything a guest could need including a nice bed and a full bathroom to share between them.

When Harrow arrived for his four day stay in the blue room, we already had one guest in the house. My girlfriend, Soho, was attempting to have a house built for herself three miles west of Whitefish at the time, and could frequently be found staying with us in the green room. She understood the courtesies of good guest etiquette and was always welcomed in our home because of it. 

As most hosts know, life goes on even when there are guests in the house. While we always did our best to spend as much time as possible with the houseguests visiting Chez Montana, the reality was, we weren’t the ones on holiday and our work schedules couldn’t be altered very much.

Harrow predictably arrived on the Delta midnight flight into Kalispell, and since he’d arranged his visit with Chef, Chef was the one who went to the airport to pick him up – the late hour was typically no big deal for a Head Chef accustomed to working the regular dinner shift anyway. Early the next morning, it became clear from the moment I sat half asleep at the dining table clutching a cup of hot coffee that my presence in the house during his vacation was going to be a major irritant for Harrow. I was so resented in fact, that I became invisible and not worth the effort of acknowledging on any level. Whenever I tried to speak to him like any nice host or normal person would, Harrow’s eyes would visibly glaze over and he’d ignore me. Only when Chef was present would he lower himself to offer me some sort of monosyllabic grunt, and it was strictly for Chef's benefit. In four days, I never got so much as a “Hello, kiss my ass, thank you for letting me stay in your home, nothing.”

Buffalo Cafe
514 East 3rd Street, Whitefish, MT 59937
Harrow had absolutely no shame in his game, and he overtly ostracized me as if I were an interloper in my very own house. And to my horror, Chef did nothing to address his friend’s rude behavior at my expense except to insist on day two that Hargett allow me to join them for a late breakfast at the Buffalo CafĂ©, primarily because it was next door to my office.

After what happened on the third day, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.

It began late in the afternoon. Everyone was home except Chef who’d left for work several hours earlier, and Harrow who was up on Big Mountain skiing. Or so I thought. In the middle of my vacuuming, Soho came upstairs to let me know that Harrow had secretly slipped an anonymous female into his room where he was now busy doing the nasty as loud as he possibly could so we’d all be sure to know that he wasn’t gay. Well, Soho was certainly no shrinking violet, but she had tremendous concern for the well-being of my young daughter who happened to be hanging out with her in the green room at the time.

By the time I arrived on the scene downstairs, the unknown hooch had hopped into her car and was pulling out of the driveway. Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. After I got over my initial shock at Hargett’s appalling and flagrant disrespect for me, my child, my home, and my other houseguest, I realized there wasn’t much I could effectively say to an ass who refused to communicate with me. I had to kick back.

The three of us sat on Soho’s bed in the green room and plotted as Harrow whistled happily in his room like a lark that didn’t know it was about to be swallowed by a mama mountain lion. It wasn’t long before he emerged from the blue room to take a shower. As soon as he got into the shower, we sent my daughter upstairs on a mission she accepted with glee. Since we all knew that the on-demand hot water heater that Sutton once boasted about was incapable of producing a consistent flow of hot water throughout the house at any given time, we used that deficiency to our benefit when we directed my daughter to turn on and off every hot water faucet inside the house while simultaneously flushing the toilets.

The blood curdling screeches that erupted from behind the bathroom door as Harrow suffered through the alternating extremes of scalding and icy water did little to make up for the insult of his reprehensible and inappropriate behavior in my home. The momentary revenge his screams offered, however, was humorously empowering, and it had the three of us rolling on the floor in laughter for a long time.

We squelched our guffaws behind the closed door of the green room when Harrow eventually left the bathroom and made his way upstairs to lounge on the couch with a cold beer. He barely had a few sips of that beer before passing out with the beer bottle squeezed between his legs. His wide open mouth sagged as the drool seeped from the lowest corner with every snore. I won’t even go into what might’ve found its way into his mouth as he unconsciously snorted on my couch for an hour as if he were God’s gift to my living room.

Now it just so happened that I was scheduled to take the same early morning Delta flight out of Kalispell that Harrow was booked on for his return to Orange County. Considering the tone of Harrow’s hellacious visit, I found the coincidence to be quite ironic.

Chef dropped us off at the airport together, and it was no surprise to me when Harrow grabbed his bags and bolted for the ticket counter, leaving me behind to handle my own luggage on the curb without so much as a word. I didn’t see him again until it came time for me to board the plane before take-off. Harrow was comfortably settled into his aisle seat when I fumbled past him trying to get to my own seat. It took everything I had not to ‘accidentally’ knock him in the head with my heavy carry-on bag as I passed him by. The only effort he made when I walked by was to turn his head away and ignore me as if we'd never met. No one would've ever guessed that he'd just spent four days in my house as the guest from hell.

When our plane made the usual layover landing in Salt Lake City, Harrow got off first and vanished completely. I never saw him again. Suffice it to say, Harrow was blacklisted from Chez Montana forevermore, and Chef got to feel the unmitigated wrath of my indignation. We never had a repeat performance. 

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King 

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully what went into Hargett's mouth while he snored on your couch was put there by you and was on the lines of dead flies and toe lint.

    My Hubby travels to Kalispell on business every year... very remote, but beautiful.

    Love your stories! Great insight into human nature.

    ReplyDelete

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