Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A brief tutorial

Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." But what if, to your delicate sensibilities, your guests stink BEFORE THEY EVEN ARRIVE? Just follow this brief tutorial, and you, too, can make your visitors feel like leaving before they even unpack.

Step 1. Look unfriendly. No matter what was said to give those people the impression that their presence is desirable (like repeated phone calls explaining how there's plenty of room, it makes the most sense, you'll be able to spend more time with them, etc), when they arrive keep a frown on your face, and, if possible, add a little wrinkling between the eyebrows. Nothing says "Go away!" like a screwed up face.

Step 2. Don't make them feel "at home" with bizarre statements like "welcome", "It's good to see you", "I'll show you around" or even "here are some towels for you to use". Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE do you want your foul smelling impositions to think that they can treat your house like a home.

Step 3. DO NOT interrupt your regular plans. Sure, the visitors may have driven thousands of miles to see you, but that doesn't mean you want to see THEM. Stick to your Friday dinner plans with the friends you see twice a week. For Pete's sake, you haven't seen them for FOUR WHOLE DAYS, which means you have LOTS of catching up to do -- which also justifies not including the guests in your conversation. At all.

Step 4. Ask your guests to stay quietly in their rooms as long as possible in the morning "for the sake of the children". That way they won't bother you, even if you're up early. Remember: you only reluctantly conceded to having them stay, not to be your friends.

Step 5. Make it clear that you are NOT a doormat, and you will not be providing meals for your guests. Of course you'll make the usual four separate, individual breakfasts for your family, but the freeloaders can darn well forage for themselves. After all, there ARE leftovers in the fridge. Hopefully, they'll even clear out the end-of-date food you are too sensible to eat. If you prefer, you can always go out to eat. If you do it right, you can sit at opposite ends of the table and not have to talk to them at all.

Step 6. Make lots of plans that the interlopers can't participate in. if that doesn't work, make plans with them, but don't bother showing up when you say you will, and be sure to leave without telling them. If you do have to do something together, make sure it's loud and unpleasant, and mislead them as to what their expectations should be. If you (unfortunately) have to do two activities together, be sure to invite your true friends to "unexpectedly" show up, so you can, again, ignore these other people.

Step 7. Practice your veiled insults before they arrive, so you can use priceless lines like "I love my children too much to do that" when the guests kiss their kids goodnight and send them to PUT THEMSELVES TO BED. Bad parenting must ALWAYS be commented on.

Finally, Step 8. No mingling. Remember, fraternization leads to contamination, so make sure to find ways to keep any children from actually interacting (reference Step 4). For your part, do not participate in small talk, like asking about your guests' trip, or inquiring about them as individuals. Such activities may lead to a false sense of friendship, at least on their part.

Follow these tips and you should have your visitors crying to themselves in the shower within two days. Keep up the good work! With effort, you may even encourage them to move on a day earlier than planned. If you succeed, bravo! If not, well, it's not like you're ever going to visit THEM, is it?

I gave 110%, and so did you!

We did it! On Sunday, June 9th, I completed the Steamboat Springs 1/2 Marathon in 3 hours and 51 minutes. Around the same time, my fundraising total for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society hit $2,761 -- 110% of my original $2,500 goal.

I can't begin to express my gratitude for your support as I worked to accomplish this huge (and somewhat uncharacteristic) goal. There is no question that your help and encouragement got me to the finish line. And I have to tell you -- I was not the fastest, sleekest, or most accomplished athlete in the event, but I was definitely the most enthusiastic and cheerful! I knew I already had won, even before they fired the starting gun. You see, thanks to you and many other generous folks, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Team In Training raised more that $110,000 dollars for the Spring season. That means lives were saved, research was funded, families and friends were assisted - even before I took my first step.

The race itself was surprisingly fun. We had a pep talk in the hotel lobby, then got on a bus and rode to the starting line before dawn. Everyone on the bus kept remarking about how long it was taking to get there, as we all slowly realized how very, very far we were going to walk or run. Aside from an absurd number of porta-potties, the starting line was fairly non-descript, and the air was cold until the sun came up. There was a one-hour delay due to some transportation issues, but as soon as we got underway I became aware of just how beautiful the scenery was. Being a (slow) walker, I had the road essentially to myself, and I was able to enjoy the sound of a distant river, at least three different kinds of songbirds, the reassuring crunch of gravel as I toodled down the road, and the sight of gamboling calves running circles around their more sedate dams. The locals were fabulous, setting up cheering stations along the way and offering just as much enthusiasm to me as they had the speedsters at the head of the pack. One pair of water-hander-outers were about six years old, and I had to turn them around as they ran up the course behind me, away from their grown-ups. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I had a spring in my step for quite a ways after I left them behind.

I made good time, even running a few sections, and despite the heat (an uncharacteristic 90 degrees under cloudless skies and relentless sun) felt good for most of the race. I was able to cheer on other Team In Training folks as the full-marathoners began passing me, and I did my best to offer encouragement to all the runners who were faltering. Karma came full circle around mile 11, when I hit my own personal wall and the cheer stations boosted me. That and a little Lady GaGa and other hard-rocking tunes on the iPod. I have to say, mile 12 was pretty much the hardest mile I've ever walked.

When I finally reached town, I was delighted to see my mom and dad, who gave up their day to come cheer me on and brought me to tears with their proud smiles. Finally, I crossed the finish line, received my medal, and got a great hug from Anita, who had sucessfully completed her 10K hours earlier. After some stretching and cold water, we all celebrated with fried pickles and sandwiches at a nearby restaurant (don't knock the pickles -- I've never tasted such salty fried deliciousness in my life!) and Anita and I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. When I woke I was pleased to find that I was only mildly sore, and filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride I seldom reach.

pictures are available on Flickr at:

So, we did it, and we did it well. Thank you.

Who's up for a full marathon?