Post holiday spirits require reflection

Well, I survived another holiday guest. I don’t often get visitors who stay for a few days because I’m not much for company. I’m sociable enough, but my place is small, my chairs are uncomfortable, I’m always saying the wrong thing, and I cook vegetarian which drives most people crazy. They can’t understand why I prefer a quinoa or bean burger to a nice juicy grilled beef hamburger.

Anyway, over the July 4th weekend my visitor was a pleasant fellow I met in 1968. Maybe I should say, I met and married in 1968 because that’s the way it was. Although we parted in 1974, there were no children or hard feelings, and throughout the years we maintained contact via Christmas cards or an occasional phone call. When my sister unexpectedly passed away in March, I called Chuck and our communication became more regular.

Earlier this summer, my daughter accepted employment in Colorado. She lives less than 100 miles from Chuck who lives in Colorado Springs. He understood my apprehension at Stephanie moving alone to a different state and called often to see how she was adjusting to her new environment. It seemed inevitable he would eventually visit me when he made his yearly trip to vacation with his son and the grandkids in Michigan.

I started this column the day Chuck left and wasn’t going to finish it. Why bother, I thought. Who wants to hear about my houseguest? Then I read Jim Mullen’s post-holiday syndicated column and changed my mind. I guess most people have mixed feelings about visitors who stay longer than one day.

It was like this. Chuck arrived late Friday night which was strike one. I’m always in bed before midnight. He knew this, but instead of getting a motel room and showing up the next day at a decent hour, he knocked on my door at 1 a.m. I chauffeured him to the spare room with a twin bed. He’s a tall man and asked if this was the best I could offer.

Ball one occurred Saturday morning when he used my fancy towels instead of the ones I laid out for him. Everybody knows ladies my age have show towels on display. They’re the pretty ones with monograms or lace around the edges that we put out when company comes. We certainly don’t expect anyone to use them.

Creating a wet mess around my bathroom sink and mirror was ball two. As a young bride, I had many rules and I’m sure he followed them. I didn’t grow up with indoor plumbing and was thrilled to have a real bathroom for the first time in my life when we rented our first apartment. I kept everything spotless and demanded he do likewise. Obviously, he had changed.

He earned strike two when he refused to drink Friday’s coffee. In my opinion, it was still fresh and very tasty, but to please him I perked a new pot. Unfortunately, he found the coffee undrinkable. I didn’t remember Chuck as being picky, but to avoid further embarrassment, I treated him to breakfast at the casino in Brimley which he seemed to enjoy.

Chuck wasn’t interested in going to the Soo Locks or Tahquamenon Falls or Pictured Rocks or Whitefish Point, so after breakfast, we returned home. By noon, he was ready to eat again, and I gave him full reign of my kitchen. On the way back from breakfast, we had purchased meat for his meal.

Ball three occurred when he filled the trailer with blue smoke from the kielbasa he prepared by burning it to a crisp. Thankfully, he didn’t use the broiler or my trailer would have been leveled to ashes. I made a mental note to never offer my stove or best stainless steel frying pan to anyone ever again.

By the time the smoke floated out my open windows and my good pan was scrubbed clean, it was late afternoon. As I steeled myself for another two days of uninterrupted disruption, “Zulu” became strike three. I don’t have regular television, but I do subscribe to Netflix.

Chuck didn’t want to do anything, so I suggested he find something interesting we both could watch. It never occurred to me his choice would be “Zulu” which drove me to the garage to clean my lawn mowers.

Let’s call Sunday morning the first inning of a new game. My friend, Flash, who lives in Detour and wasn’t too excited about an ex-husband appearing on my doorstep, invited us to breakfast in Pickford. He wanted to check out the “competition.” Flash had no reason to worry. Chuck earned three strikes within minutes of being seated.

He informed Flash the popcorn I served last night was tough, dry, and tasteless. He grumbled that my toilet paper was too thin, my columns were boring, my hot water stunk, I had no taste in movies, his bed was too small, I spent too much time on the phone, and my trailer made him sneeze.

Somehow I kept my mouth shut and we made it to Monday morning. I jumped for joy when my brother invited us for brunch. When we finished and I watched Chuck drive away, all I felt was relief. I knew the spirit of husband past would not linger long in my mind or my home.

Three day houseguests? You can keep them.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past.