Everybody knows that it's nice to share. They drill it into your head the second you are left alone with some scary tall person who isn't your mom in a brightly colored room somewhere - a.k.a. kindergarten. Roughly one-third of the children's book industry is rooted in the concept of sharing and / or caring, the other two-thirds being made up of various say-no-to-strangers parables and the virtues of talking animals.
It's one of the best lessons a child can learn, along with don't put a spoon in the socket to unplug the vacuum because you're trying to listen to "Sesame Street" (true story). Sharing is the foundation for empathy, which is the foundation of humanity. And a little of that goes a long way.
Despite knowing the value of sharing, I don't always have the means to be generous. The next round of drinks has been on me for about two years now. Leftovers must be portioned out for my dinner over the week instead of being Tupperwared for others. Those cookies - well, I guess I can't grudge anyone a cookie.
One way I am able to share what little I do have is by letting people crash at my house. Be it friends passing through town, friends in the middle of a lover's quarrel, bands who need a break from their van, someone with car trouble, what have you - I try and let everyone know my sofa is open to those in need, and folds out to boot.
If I know in advance someone is going to be staying, I can get the extra towels out, give the house a once-over, make sure there is coffee (as a non-coffee drinker I still know the importance of having some extra on hand, and not that dreaded instant). Sometimes, it's a knock on the door or text late at night, and I can only put fresh sheets on the pullout sofa. Either way, it's an honor to be able to help a temporarily displaced friend.
I've been unofficially appointed the go-to "band mother" in my town. If a band is passing through without a place to stay and can't splurge on a hotel, local musicians and club owners throw out my name as a person with couch, loveseat, floor and other surfaces for vacancy. Living roughly 30 seconds from downtown is convenient for bands packing up gear at 3 a.m. I know life on the road is rough. They can save that 60 bucks or so on gas and / or gas station food. Bands always show their appreciation, be it via band swag, a letter complete with cartoons left on the refrigerator, or a thank-you in the liner notes of their next CD.
Of course, I try to ensure there is no danger of being chopped up with an ax in the night. Visitors are vouched for by whichever of my friends booked their gig, and subsequently vetted for ax-murdering tendencies. Yes, I know that you can't always tell someone has an ax in their suitcase, but I've never had a problem with anyone. I know, this is the perfect setup for a horror film.
Having houseguests is fun when you live alone. It's like a random slumber party. I've had fun with past guests hula-hooping out on the lawn 'til 2 a.m., playing epic games of Star Wars Monopoly and watching movies ("Ghostbusters" was busted out once when my friend Molly dreaded the long, dark drive back to New Waterford). Breakfast is always fun in the morning, complete with cartoons. It's a sight to see a bunch of tough rock'n'roll guys sitting cross-legged in their jammies eating cereal and watching "Ren & Stimpy."
My house is no Hilton to be sure. Everything is creaky and dusty, the kitchen is the size of a port-a-john, and the banister comes off the wall sometimes. But there's hot water out the wazoo, plenty of stuff to watch on DVD and Netflix, and I always try to keep a pound of bacon on hand. Bands love bacon. And if a punk band stays at your house, make sure to have plenty of hairspray - those mohawks and spikes get dented in the night.
While on vacation, I hosted a band that had already stayed at the Lora Avenue Suites two years prior. Comics were read, snacks were enjoyed. I enjoy return visitors. My only regret was that I completely forgot about the Klondike Bars I had stashed in the freezer to make up for my lack of central air. Sorry, guys. Maybe next time.
So, sharing your sofa may not seem like a grand gesture, but it can mean a lot to someone who has nowhere else to go. But if their change gets stuck under the cushions, consider it guest tax.