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What About This . . .? By Wayne William Cipriano

Renee` and I were talking the other day about how much she likes her new home in Massachusetts. She said she likes it there even more than she liked living in Columbia – and that’s saying a lot since she left Ava right after high school heading for the U. and she never came home!

She went on and on about all the benefits she is now enjoying, and when I asked her if there was anything about her new home that she didn’t like very much she hesitated for quite a while, and then she said, “Not really, it just..” And she said training all her new friends was going to be a job, especially in such a small college town.

When I asked her what she meant by training, she pretty well settled on the “just dropping in” phenomenon. You know what she meant, I’m sure. Sometimes people just drop in to say “hello”. No warning, no phone call, just, “Hello, here we are!”

No doubt, some people must find surprise visits like that very exciting and fulfilling, because it happens so often. Some people don’t like it. We don’t. And I’ll bet Renee` got a lot of the way she feels about “pop ins” from Rosalie and I. It’s not that we are unfriendly and hermits by nature. Well, maybe I am, but certainly not Rosalie. In fact, Rosalie makes every visit to our home such a big deal that only someone who really enjoys people and entertaining could perform the way she does. But, a lot like me, Rosalie doesn’t like surprises – and she wants to be prepared for guests and that takes time and effort.

Now, everyone says they don’t expect to be treated like “company”. Good luck communicating that to someone like Rosalie who wants every visit to our home to be a memorable experience. Failing to do that is failing as a hostess for her. It’s not like our home is so chaotic that preparing for a visit takes a lot of time. And it’s not like there aren’t enough goodies around to placate any group of visitors – a fact to which my every-expanding waistline amply testifies. It’s more like having the opportunity to plan and execute a good time for our friends.

I’m sure it is the same for Renee`. In a small college atmosphere some of the niceties of decorum sometimes slip away, especially “among friends.” She thinks it will be a hassle giving people to understand that having time to prepare for them is actually a compliment to them and their value as friends, not a dismissal of them as “unworthy”. And she rues the first time she has to tell new friends how she feels. But, as I pointed out to her, she’s done it before and it turned out just fine.

What about you? Do you smile and jump up expectantly when your doorbell goes off? Do you start and perhaps even cringe? Does it depend on how good the book you are reading is or who’s playing whom on television?

I suspect that any of us, about to set off on some disagreeable chore, are very grateful when a pop-in occurs, but feel somewhat differently when we’ve just settled in for a nice relaxing evening, just the two of us.

Is there some signal we could use that would alert friends to the reception they’ll receive if they “just stop by”? All the house lights on? or off? A sock on the doorknob perhaps?

But, just to be sure, how hard is it to make a quick telephone call, especially in these times when just about everyone has a phone attached to their face? Why not call first? It shows a lot of concern for your friends, and can even save some gas if the friends you are going to visit decided to “just drop in” on some friends of theirs, or maybe even on you!