Don’t guess when it comes to guests; be prepared: Bill Kirby

“Love and mar­riage, love and mar­riage. They go togeth­er like a horse and car­riage.”

– Jim­my Van Heusen

I’m no mar­riage coun­selor, just a par­tic­i­pant.

But I would sug­gest that there are few chal­lenges more drain­ing in the “death-do-us-part” than host­ing a week­end vis­it involv­ing your spouse’s old­est, but dis­tant friends.

Thank good­ness we had four months to pre­pare. That gave us time to get a new roof, have the house and dri­ve­way pres­sure-washed and essen­tial­ly fix the lawn. The shrubs now look nice, wrapped in an Argonne For­est of straw mulch. 

I bought an edger to give a crisp trim to the side­walk and curb. I put on gloves and a long-sleeve shirt and wad­ed into the rose bush­es, trim­ming out the dead­heads scis­sors, so that only the pret­ty blos­soms were on dis­play. I filled pots with flow­ers I knew would prob­a­bly be dead in two weeks.

Did I men­tion it’s been warm out­side?

When advised, my wife told me to con­tact the air-con­di­tion­er guy we’ve used in recent years to sure he could help if Fre­on broke free.

I won’t get into the kitchen prep, except to say it involved fruit trays, veg­etable trays, pas­try trays, bis­cuit plat­ters and some juice con­coc­tions man­go, which it took two stock boys to . I also bought enough ice to sink a Titan­ic.

In addi­tion, the house­hold quar­ter­mas­ter had approved the pur­chase of a new table cloth, taste­ful (yet dis­pos­able) cut­lery and a good-sized, three-part elec­tric warm­ing tray in we ever want to go into the wed­ding recep­tion .

All that was Part I – to plan it so that every­thing is not nec­es­sar­i­ly per­fect, but “right” for the ’ arrival. Then let them mess up the plates or maybe drop a crois­sant. 

That’s because you are now in Part II of your chal­lenge, the exe­cu­tion phase. It’s like a job inter­view after you’ve already been hired. You have to show your spouse’s friends that the right choice was made.

You do this by qui­et­ly main­tain­ing host mode, which means you lis­ten … a lot. 

Bill Kirby, Augusta Chronicle

Like the job inter­view, ask a few ques­tions that get oth­ers to .

Then let them.

Don’t try to top a sto­ry about a dis­agree­ment with a sales clerk. Don’t call the roll on your per­son­al health chal­lenges. Make sure you’re a good host. Offer a bis­cuit from the warm­ing tray, and keep their cups or glass­es filled. The min­utes will pass; the clock hands will turn. And before the sun sets, you will be stand­ing at the top of the dri­ve­way wav­ing as the last car departs.

“That went great,” your spouse will say, lean­ing into a hug.

And you’ll turn, look warm­ly, and ask, “Why did we need the man­go?”

Bill Kir­by has report­ed, pho­tographed and com­ment­ed on life in Augus­ta and  for 45 years.

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