Living on the Edge

"How's your house guest experience working out?"

Let me answer that in a roundabout way . . .

Ten years ago this summer, I did a ministry internship in a town called Croton, Ohio. Croton is about twenty-five miles northeast of Columbus. When I decided to apply for the internship, I couldn't even find the place on a map. It was a tiny town five miles from the middle of nowhere; you could walk a circle around the town in half an hour. I had always wondered if I could survive rural living. The answer is no. I was bored out of my wits [I did teach myself to play soccer that summer, though]. I couldn't fathom a life where you had to drive ten miles just to get to a McDonalds, and another five after that to find any other kind of restaurant. It is interesting that, ten years later, Columbus suburban sprawl is now getting so close to Croton that soon all those farm folk will be able to sell off land to those city slickers; it won't be rural much longer.

The people of the Croton Church of Christ where absolutely wonderful to me, and I experienced it from an inside perspective. Instead of just having me stay with one family all summer, they passed me around like I was a lucky silver dollar [I don't know where that analogy came from, but it sounded rural]. In the twelve weeks I was there, I stayed in eight people's houses. Some of the places were less than admirable [one family had a gaggle of cats and a certain feline smell infested the house], while others were amazing [two of my weeks were spent at a Bed and Breakfast]. It was at that time that I learned to survive being "the house guest." If you ever find yourself in a house guest situation, here are four keys to survival:

1. Early to bed, early to rise
This way you could avoid unnecessary hallway contact while heading to the bathroom.

2. Always inspect the bathroom
I feared the dreaded Dumb and Dumber moment of using a toilet that wasn't functioning. Or if you unknowingly hop in a shower that sprays of to the side and soaks the floor. I always do a preliminary bathroom inspection.

3. Make dinner plans in advance
When I first arrived for my internship, they asked me about my food dislikes. I told them the only food I don't like at all is fish. Of course, I was served fish on three different occasions. I wasn't stuck up; I ate what was put in front of me, but later had to refrain from puking. I always found convenient excuses to skip the evening meal so I could drive the fifteen miles to Subway. I didn't always exercise this devious plan, but I knew when to walk away and when to run.

4. Remember they're always watching
You never have privacy in someone else's house, so I always made it a point to be extra paranoid about what I did. No loud music, no private phone calls, and always sleeping in pajamas. This way, I never set myself up for any stories about what I freak I was.

So now back to our current house guest experience. We're just a week in, but I can honestly say that this is the best house guest situation I've ever had. I've even gotten lax on my four keys to survival. The basement is totally secluded from the rest of the house so we actually have privacy. There's never any pressure for dinner and we'd enjoy the Johnson's company if we did. The bathroom is in great condition. In addition to all this, the bed is comfortable and we've made great use of the entertainment room. Oh, and the pool table rocks; Kelly and I are now addicted to playing it.

So I hope we don't find ourselves in another house guest situation, because I've been caught of guard. I'm in danger of forgetting my survival skills. Everything after this will be downhill.