Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hosting: Two Quick Lessons Learned

This Sunday, I did something I've never done before -- I hosted. It was a neat opportunity to bring together neighbors, parishioners, martial arts instructors, and extended family (technically the girlfriend's family, but their loose definition of 'cousin' 'nephew' or 'brother' puts me under the umbrella).

Overall, it worked out -- I got a chance to show them all where I live, got a ton of interior decorating advice (Helpful Eye for the Uncoordinated Guy?), and finally got to fill up the big kitchen table from Bob's with people, food, and drink.

In true military fashion, however, I've got to follow up the operation with two quick "Lessons Learned." (That's a formal process the military undergoes anytime anyone does anything, in the hopes that good points will be captured for memory and bad ones not repeated).

(1) Parking. Definite low point of the evening was finding out my good friend Jean had been towed. Even though the spot was marked "Residents Only" and even though I said, "Park on the street or in the Leo Roy garage next door" I have to own up to some fault here, because I never made it clear that the spots near the building were all verboten. I'll offer to split the tow cost with him, but the bigger lesson learned is to make sure your guests aren't illegally parked when they come over. If it hadn't happened Sunday, it would've eventually happened anyway...but now my awareness of the issue is piqued, so the first time ought to be the last.

(2) Noise. Part of living in a condo is that for all the many benefits, your home isn't truly *your* castle. I was reminded of that the hard way when I met my downstairs neighbor for the first time at 1:30 a.m. -- him in pajamas and angry, me surprised at the door. I had actually tried to come by earlier in the day, but with no one home, I just moved on. Co-opting might not have helped anyway, as he had work the next day...but the bigger lesson learned, I think, is that to reduce the noise problem, the only good solution is to just do things earlier in the night (i.e. a dinner party), with the idea that everyone would go out afterwards.

Well, that's it...I'm definitely looking forward to hosting again and I still think it's a great idea overall, but I'll preferrably do it without a good friend's towing and a not-so-pleasant knock.

3 comments:

Matt said...

Good points. We threw a party a few weeks ago, and we tried to do everything we could -- from parking to telling neighbors to even just buying enough drink to last the whole night -- but I also realized that one rule while hosting is understanding that SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG. Dishes will break, a bathroom will clog, but you just hope the goodwill engendered by opening your house to others will carry the day.

The New Englander said...

Matt,

Great reminder -- anytime you host, you really are putting yourself out there voluntarily and risking whatever may go wrong...but in the end, as you say, the goodwill you're engendering should come out above all else. Well said, and thanks much for the encouragement. I'll definitely host again -- maybe without towing or a noise complaint, but perhaps a broken dish or minor bodily injury!

best,
gp

The New Englander said...

Matt,

Oh yeah, one other thing...a quick corollary to all that we're saying here could just be this: If you DON'T want to take the risk of something going wrong (i.e. a clog, a break, a tow, etc.), or even just the risk that collective ingratitude could/would trump the engendered goodwill, just DON'T host...it sounds simple enough, but you never want to fall into the person-that-does-something-nice-and-then-resents-it trap.

But at the end of the day, I think hosting is "worth it" as long as you keep some brakes on both the frequency and the scope with which you do it..

-gp