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Houseguests From Hell: When Our Friends and Family Come to Visit Hawai‘i

"Make yourself at home." How many times have you said that very phrase to your houseguests? It's a singulary gracious sentiment, with only one problem: Someone might take you up on it.


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HouseguestsAmbrose Bierce thought of hospitality as: “The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.”


By his definition, residents of these Islands are a virtuous bunch indeed. When you live in a place as desirable as Hawai‘i, where there’s a cultural precedence for hospitality, you entertain a lot of houseguests. They are as prevalent in our homes as termites (and, some would say, harder to get rid of). So, before letting anyone know that you actually have an empty guestroom, you might want to consider the stories of these Island hosts.


The Heartstring Houseguest

A kind-hearted professional couple from Honolulu took pity on an elderly female friend from Kailua who had broken her ankle. She lived in a two-level townhouse and had to creep backwards on her okole to get up the embankment from the parking lot to her front door.


So the generous couple invited the 73-year-old to stay with them in their single-story home until she could get around comfortably on crutches or a walking cast. Indeed, she made herself very much at home, frequently inviting her boyfriend and others to make themselves at home, as well. (The wife returned one afternoon to find a stranger poking around her bedroom.)


Offers by the hobbling guest to help in the kitchen resulted in several mishaps and broken wine glasses; but greater damage incurred from her habit of talking—incessantly and critically. She offered this bit of unsolicited advice to her hostess, who was finally sitting down to a well-deserved scoop of ice cream one night: “You really shouldn’t be doing that, hon; looks like you’re putting on some weight.”


Lest they cave in again to the voice of their inner social workers, the couple has since posted this sign on their fridge: “No good deed goes unpunished.”


Houseguests from Hell

The undeparted

Trudy and Alvin Wong hosted a student who stayed in their Manoa home for six weeks instead of the intended two. When it finally came time for the young fellow to fly back to the Mainland, Alvin personally escorted him to the airport gate (you could do that then). That’s when an announcement was made asking passengers to relinquish their seats on the overbooked flight and receive $500.


The student jumped up to volunteer, and Alvin quickly squelched the thought. “I am going to watch you get on that plane; I am going to watch them close the door; and I am going to watch your plane take off,” he said.


To which, the clueless houseguest inquired, “Did I overstay my welcome?”


The uninvited

Soon after moving to Kaneohe with their then 3-year-old son, Eden-Lee Murray and Roger Jellineck were delighted to find that the home they had rented had a small apartment under the house. “You don’t necessarily want a guest room,” their realtor warned, but they had lots of Mainland friends and didn’t heed that advice.


Their first guest was a friend of Eden-Lee’s, who called to say that her planned bike trip had been canceled and that she’d like, instead, to visit Hawai‘i. No big deal, they thought—an old friend, a long weekend. But it didn’t work out that way. The friend who invited herself brought along her husband and 2-year-old daughter, and announced upon landing their plans to stay for 10 days.


Since both Eden-Lee and Roger were working, they left lists for their guests of fun things to do on Oahu, along with directions to each and recommendations for reasonable rental car companies. “No, that’s OK,” said Eden-Lee’s friend, “we’ll wait till you get home to do stuff.” The friend’s husband, though, had different plans. He woke up early most mornings and took Roger’s car to play golf.


Three days into their stay, the visiting couple wanted to check out Waikiki and left their daughter with their hosts. The toddler, it turns out, had never before heard the word “no.” So, when Eden-Lee scolded her for pulling their son’s pants down, the spoiled princess wouldn’t stop shrieking until her parents returned.


From that point on, the guests turned icy cold toward their generous hosts ... and then stayed a full week longer.


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