Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hi, I'm Russ and I'm Visitor Challenged

I'm not the kind of guy who rolls out the red carpet for out-of-town, stay-overnight company – nor company of any stripe, for that matter. Anyone who has been to my house – and there are damn few of you – know that it isn't exactly engineered for visitors.

Although it's not much smaller in living space than was my house in Boynton Beach, my Greenville home doesn't have a screened-in pool terrace nor the single-floor layout of my former Florida house. Where, despite only about 1,300 square feet under air, 50 or 60 people could mingle in total comfort. I've seen them do it. Five or six people, willing to crane their necks and talk over their shoulder, can sit and visit in the living room of my Greenville home, but after about 10 minutes, that grows old. I've had as many as eight or nine standing people squeezed on to my screened-in front porch, but that only works in cooler weather.

No, about the most out-of-town visitors can expect is the dusting off of my blender to create a round or two of margaritas. Teetotalers (Yes, that is the proper spelling.) are simply out of luck.

Although I'd like to put on the dog, I just don't have the facilities. I do have a side table against one wall in my dining area that will expand to seat 8 or 10. However, I only have four matching chairs. My intent was always to add at least two more chairs, but during the five years I've owned this table, it's only been converted into a dining table twice. Why buy two more chairs?

Other than making and freezing spaghetti sauce, typically my culinary efforts are pretty much confined to grilling chicken, and the occasional pork cutlet or steak on the gas grill in my carport. When out-of-town company comes a callin', they should be prepared to eat most meals out. I'll stock in some bagels for breakfast and a few munchies, but I'm not going to load up the fridge with food that will go bad if not consumed by the visitors. I have had multi-night visitors for whom I've stocked foodstuffs for eat-in meals. Before the exhaust from their departing vehicle has totally evaporated in my driveway, I've loaded up a huge garbage bag with all manner of condiments, produce and other assorted food items that will just go bad if left on the refrigerator shelves, hauling it out to the garbage. What a waste.

Reading the preceding paragraphs, one might jump to the conclusion I don't welcome overnight visitors. Nothing is further from the truth. I am excited with the prospect of hosting friends and family. I wish more of them would take me up on my invitation to visit. Having said that, though, doing the all the prep work required to receive company exhausts my motivation and energy to the point, I have nothing left to plan meals, grocery shop and cook.

What I want visitors to my home to understand: Revel in the fact that your feet aren't sticking to my kitchen floor because 24 hours before you arrived, they would have. 

The major weapon in my arsenal for the fight against crud: the Shark Rocket.

I don't have a weekly “cleaning day.” Hell, I don't have a monthly cleaning day. Other than wiping down the kitchen counter on a daily basis, I clean as I notice things require cleaning. And I must confess, I'm not nearly as observant as I once was. Every once in a while I'll notice the layer of dust on the TV stand and realize it must be time to dust. Or, I'll be cranked back in my recliner lording over my meager digs and realize it has been two or three weeks since I last vacuumed. Yep, that's how I roll.

So, as the arrival date approaches for visitors, I begin gearing up for a major house cleaning. It's not exactly planning the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it is a huge endeavor, made even more daunting because I don't regularly clean. Usually taking five or six hours, not much escapes my attention. But, it is a lot of work and, to my way of thinking, a colossal misappropriation of time.

This is why no one should ever expect to be out with me somewhere and hear me offer, “hey, let's just go back to my house.” At times, when I've been tempted to do that, my mind races through a room-by-room inventory of my hovel, squashing any chance of my issuing a spur-of-the-moment invite. It's also why my rolling out the blender for margaritas is the epitome of my graciousness as an overnight host. By my tally, I've already exceeded any and all expectations by scrubbing bathrooms and chipping Cheez Whiz off the kitchen-cabinet doors.

Otherwise, I'm the ideal host.

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