Fishy Visitors

at 12:35 AM
Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

There are a lot of great things about living in the Bay Area; world-class dining and culture, mountains, beaches. From shopping to hiking, we have everything in our backyard.

And if it all makes this an amazing place to live, it also makes this an amazing place to visit. In fact, San Francisco is the second-most-visited city in the United States, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But living in one of the world's top vacation spots has a downside.


Ask anyone who's lived here long enough, and you'll hear a story of the houseguest from hell. From the houseguest who never leaves, to the houseguest who never bathes, I've heard them all. I have some houseguest horror stories myself.

There was the guest who, informed our home is non-smoking, repeatedly set off the smoke alarm sneaking smokes in the bathroom. There's the friend who always arrives at 3am, or that guest who rearranged all the furniture while I was at work. One guest kept losing the house key, and another yelled at the cat so loudly the poor thing had a seizure.


Now I love my friends and family, and - in theory - I love the idea of them staying. But, after a summer hosting many a houseguest, I've realized something: It's my home, not the Hilton. They may be on vacation, but I'm not. I do not want to talk to anyone before my first cup of coffee. I lose it with the living room looking like a bad day in baggage claim, suitcases stacked everywhere.

I try to be a good host, and maybe it's all that playing tour guide at Fisherman's Wharf, but by the time the guest leaves, I can't help but think of Benjamin Franklin, who said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

Life in everybody's favorite city means everybody wants to crash on your couch. So, after years of visitors, I've developed a houseguest survival list every San Franciscan needs to know; the best places for coffee, crab and sourdough bread.

And the phone number of a good hotel.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches at Robert Louis Stevenson School in San Francisco.