If the weather forecasts are any indication, summer will be here before you know it and, for many of us, that means the phone calls, emails and Facebook messages from somewhat estranged friends and relatives who have suddenly remembered they know someone who lives near the ocean.
It's hard to blame them, really, the thought of escaping their land-locked locales for a long weekend in a warm place is alluring, particularly when their lodging expenses would be, essentially nil. That is, if they don't mind couch-crashing or the comforts of an air mattress.
And while being the vacationer is a relatively carefree experience, as evidenced by the scores of questionable fashion choices we see each day during the summer, playing host can be a more stressful affair.
This angst is due, in large part, to the fact that we often take for granted the amenities and things that make living in this area so worthwhile and thus have a hard time imagining what anyone not native to these parts would find entertaining.
After all, you drive by it every day and barely give it a second thought so why would your friends from Chicago or New York find it interesting?
Chances are they will and, by playing host, you'll likely get a chance to rediscover the place where you live and enjoy a kind of domestic renaissance that might help remind you why, out of all the places in the world, you choose to live here.
In that spirit, I thought I'd offer a couple of tips about hosting in the hopes that they will ease some of the anxiety about having to entertain people in a place you occasionally find mundane and ordinary but is really anything but.
Yes, You have to go to the beach: You know about the parking hassles and the crowds and the scores of inconsiderate, sometimes drunk people with their stereos, large umbrellas and larger bodies but that's part of the reason they're here, so suck it up. But remind them that sunscreen is imperative or prepare to spend the rest of the weekend hearing about painful showers and fitful, itchy, sleepless nights.
Eat and shop local: Our beaches get a lot of the ink but what actually gives our area some soul are the locally owned and operated restaurants and other businesses. Patronize them. Your guests can shop at a big box retail store or eat at a chain restaurant at home. Treat them to something distinctively Lowcountry.
Take a day trip: I'm partial to Charleston, which has quickly become one of the country's premiere culinary destinations, but go somewhere for a day. Maybe Savannah. Even Asheville, N.C., and Athens, Ga., are on the table if you're willing to get up early enough and spend a good bit of the day in the car. After all, one of the great things about where we live is its proximity to other, frankly, cooler places. Go exploring. Everyone loves an adventure.
Do nothing: It's all too easy to feel like we need to play cruise director with folks in town but it's just as important to take time to just sit and talk and reminisce. Hit up local seafood and farmers markets and make a meal together. Your guests have come from near and far to enjoy the pleasure of your company and for you to enjoy theirs.
This week, in honor of houseguests, a playlist comprising eight songs by artists and bands from South Carolina as a tribute to this place where we get to live and so many others seem to wish they did.
Seriously, lather your guests up with sunscreen yourself if you have to before hitting the beach or find some way to deafen the screams that will inevitably be coming from your shower.
Band of Horses, "Our Swords" -- Lead singer Ben Bridwell is an Irmo native, and the band has long considered South Carolina its home state. This is one of their more underrated songs.
Those Darlins, "Let U Down" -- A gritty, fun rock song from this Charleston band.
Stop Light Observations, "Railroad Tracks" -- A Charleston band you really ought to know. Great stuff across the board.
Iron & Wine, "Boy With a Coin" -- Samuel Beam, raised in Chapin, performs under this stage name and while I don't always find his brand of sleepy acoustic music interesting, this song is worth a listen.
Shovels & Rope, "Keeper" -- A band that could do for Charleston's music scene what its chefs did for its dining scene.
Run Dan Run, "Box-Type Love" -- Another Charleston band, this one sounding like a perfect blend of Friendly Fires, The Postal Service and The Cure.
Hootie & The Blowfish, "Time" -- I had to. I mean, Darius Rucker is basically the state's poet laureate.
McKenzie Eddy, "Moonbeams and Blu Jeans" -- A really great pop song from this Hilton Head Island native.
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