Summer has officially arrived and not a minute too soon for sun-loving, heat-loving me. It’s the time of year when beach-loving me gets to fully enjoy the singular advantage of living near the ocean — the beautiful beaches of New England. I can’t get enough of squishing my toes in the sand, lazing about in my beach chair nodding off to the sounds of the lapping waves. I’ll admit to wussiness about the cold water — too cold for this transplanted Southerner until well into the dog days of the season.
For somebody who does not own a beach house, I spend a fair amount time on Martha’s Vineyard, courtesy of pals who own a little piece of paradise with extra rooms. I’ve been lucky enough to visit all around the island, and to be invited back summer after summer. Not everybody is. No doubt because they don’t know how to be good guests.
So it falls to me on this Fourth of July holiday to offer a guide for you beach house guests, and those who want to be. First of all, don’t show up empty handed. You can bring a little something for the house, or your host. (And yes, this is in addition to the little something you’ll send after your visit). If you are a repeat guest as I am, you can bring something you know will be appreciated. In my case, I’m carrying rub and sauce for my baby back ribs, which I’ll cook one day for my host, the other guests and a few other visitors who might drop by. (But, since everybody is not a master of Memphis barbeque as I am, do what you can.)
Next, understand that while you are on vacation, so is your host. It's not a bed and breakfast. Don’t leave your room a mess as if someone else will tidy up for you. Pitch in with household duties — if you can’t cook, clean up and take the garbage out. I’ve been really surprised watching other guests who leave dishes in the sink and drop beach towels all over the place. Not only would my mother be appalled if I did that, if I were the host I’d be crossing that guest off my list — forever. Please, offer to do something special for your host while you are there — pick up tickets to a concert, take them out to the new hot restaurant, or make that fourth trip to the grocery store and the ice cream run.
Most of all — and this is a big one — take care of yourself. This was drilled into my sister and me early on because my mother’s mantra was “learn to entertain yourself.” I don’t expect to hang out with my host every minute of my visit, and neither should you. Sometimes they’d like to be by themselves or do something without having to include you. Again, they are on vacation, too!
Finally, be open to the flow of the household. I’m not a game person but I’ve gamely joined in. And along with my friend’s young daughter and her friend, I’ve traveled the kid culture journey from Dora the Explorer to Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
I’m looking forward to new beach adventures with old friends this summer, and I’m awfully appreciative to be invited back. See you at the clam shack!