One of the biggest joys of island living is hosting friends and family—spending time with those you hold nearest and dearest, and showing off your little slice of paradise.
Except… when it’s not joyful and you want to spend their entire visit in a boat… On the sea… Alone… Far, far away.
To avoid that scenario (and we’ve all been there), here’s a little guide to some generic house guest types you may want to look out for and how you can deal with them when they appear at an airport near you.
1) The Princess
What you will hear: “Wow, it’s so hot. Is it always this hot?” (Also: “How do you put up with no air conditioning?” or “You should really consider installing a pool.” or “What’s with all the bugs?” or “How do you manage to do your hair here?”). This guest’s always got a lot to say!
How to recognize: The Princess (who, despite the name, can be male or female) will be wearing wildly inappropriate shoes and generally has one suitcase exclusively dedicated to hair-styling tools (which will blow at least three fuses during their visit and that’s if your power grid can even handle the load in the first place).
Do not attempt to engage in traditional island activities, stick to all the “touristy” places.
Invite your “fanciest, poshest” island friends over to socialize.
Get ready to inhale hairspray – a lot of hairspray.
Ply gently with alcohol to maintain a minimum degree of mellowness (they may let their hair down in more ways than one!).
2) Empty Handers
What you will hear: “Oh, sorry—the duty-free store was closed.” or “I thought I would pack light and just bring a carry-on.” (Also: “Can we just stop at Walmart?” – uh, Walmart? We don’t have Walmart!)
How to recognize: These haphazard folks show up at your local arrivals hall with basically nothing that is even remotely useful for their island experience and often lack basic personal items like shampoo, soap, sunscreen and bug spray. A familiar, more irritating variant is the Empty Hander who expects your island home to be a hotel, complete with all the comforts and complimentary amenities of a 5 star resort.
Send to the nearest supermarket/grocery store and liquor store with a list of needed items, that is only, of course, if you trust them on your island’s roads.
If not, stretch what you have. Remember you are an islander – “Improvising” is your middle name!
Always have extra toiletries and extra alcohol on hand… just in case.
3) The Over Consumers
What you will hear: Mostly recognized by the incessant lowering of your AC thermostat and the whirr of the AC fan starting or the continuous splashing of shower water. (Also: “I could use a refill!”)
How to recognize: Over Consumers love to have fun and are, oh, so happy to be on your island but have little sense of proportion, leading them to indiscriminately use electricity/water/beer/wine with no regard to cost or dwindling supplies. After a few days, they may be seen in the liquor store standing in shock and horror as the cashier swipes their credit card, silently wishing they had packed two suitcases full of supplies.
Do not offer unlimited access to AC controls—suggest that use be confined to evenings so as to “fully enjoy the island experience” or invest in a programmable thermostat that is under plastic with a lock and key. I know you’ve seen them. 🙂
Suggest day trips out of the house so that the AC gets a break from the Over Consumer.
If the Over Consumer is hogging the shower, suggest showers at the beach or tell him/her the water has been turned off (all while lamenting the trials of island life). You should all know where your water supply tap is. If not, go find it now!
Repeat as necessary.
4) Last Minute Tag Alongers
What you will hear: “I hope you don’t mind that tagged along!” (Also: “You won’t even notice they’re here.”)
How to recognize: Last Minute Tag Alongers are most often spotted with their extra guest, who is frequently a) an unknown significant other or b) a close relative recovering from some ailment or a broken heart that needs a “nice getaway.”
Try to be polite to this new extra guest. They may have no idea that this is a surprise to you. Stretch what your have – remember your middle name! (see “Empty Handers”).
Keep an extra air mattress or hammock on hand.
If need be, be overly explicit with next year’s invitation and maybe ask for the flight manifest ahead of time. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong. We love our guests and as islanders we adore sharing our rocks with the people we love. Sometimes these non-rock dwellers (especially first timers) just need some friendly reminders that they are, in fact, not at home (Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!) and that things are a wee bit different living on a rock.
Given the chance, they just might surprise you and become your favourite annual visitor. (And if not, just imagine all the good stories you’ll have to tell.) 🙂