Foaming at the mouth

Some people have a ďthingĒ about infringing on the hospitality of others. That isnít the case in an extended family as large in mine, where ďthe more, the merrierĒ is our de facto motto.

In fact, in our family, choosing to stay in a hotel rather than at the home of a relative Ė no matter how distant Ė is considered the ultimate affront. Unless of course you have a life-threatening allergy to said relativeís much-loved family dog or pet guinea pig, in which case youíd be completely justified in seeking a (comparatively allergen-free) room at the nearest inn. As long as you have the proper documentation, that is. (Please note: photographic evidence of that unfortunate instance in your youth when your eyes swelled shut after coming within a block of a feral cat is as readily admissible as your full medical history. In fact, itís preferred.)

No matter how long it has been since youíve seen the family member whose home you are planning to invade, youíll be welcomed with opened arms, fed to within an inch of your life and then tucked away for a night of peaceful slumber. If youíre lucky, youíll be comfortably ensconced in a guest room or the bedroom of whatever small child has been booted out of their bed for the night. Or maybe youíre tucked into the bed formerly occupied by whichever of their children happens to be off at college or has just moved out. (If it hasnít already been repurposed as a sewing room or a walk-in closet, that is.)

Of course, thereís always a chance youíll be relegated to the couch, the floor or even a tent in the back yard. But thatís part of the fun, really.

Or at least thatís what we try to convince the visiting entourage when our guest counts exceeds the number of available beds. (What can I say, weíre a popular bunch.)

Itís not like weíre a family of free-loaders, donít get me wrong. It goes well beyond a free place to stay. We genuinely enjoy one anotherís company and look for any opportunity to spend time together. Itís not only a chance to catch up, but also to sit around over coffee or cocktails and reminisce about the old days. Thatís my favorite part. I love when my parents and their friends start swapping stories and I love doing the same with my old friends.

You really get to know people by staying at their house. You learn their routine. And, you get to try their shampoo.

I know that might seem odd, but one of my favorite parts of staying at someone elseís house is checking out their bath products and other assorted sundries. I always bring my own, of course. And no, not as a cover for my illicit toiletry habit. It just seems prudent to have a back up plan. You know, in case your host uses one of those truly hideous shampoo-and-conditioner-in-one formulas. Or the soap dishís sole occupant is an unidentifiable sliver of something which may or may not have been soap in a previous life.

I should clarify that this isnít some bizarre obsession. Think of it as a way of making informed purchasing decisions. You canít just buy a new shampoo on a whim, without trying it first! That would be irresponsible.

Iím quite happy with my current brand which, incidentally, I was introduced to in July of 2006 while staying with Susan, sister to my college bestie Liz. Liz was getting married, you see, to her then-fiance, now-hubby Kent and Sue was kind enough to put me up prior to the ceremony. So, I guess you could say TRESemme and I are celebrating five happy years together this month, just like Liz and Kent. (Happy anniversary, Shipmans!)

My favorite shampoo and conditioner arenít the only personal care products Iíve been introduced to in such a manner. My facial moisturizer? A result of getting snowed in at my friend Julieís this past winter. And thereís the Gold Bond Ultimate Healing body wash and corresponding lotion I use religiously. I was introduced to both by my brother Dennis, who works for the company who produces them. Iíll admit theyíre a bit pricier than some of the other options, but well worth it. (And I feel like Iím being supportive of his career!)

Hosting guests also provides an opportunity to broaden my toiletry horizons. My sister, for example, was more than eager to let me try the natural coconut shampoo and conditioner she favors during her visit in June. (It smelled fabulous but, unfortunately, didnít work as well on my tresses as it does on hers.)

My most recent discovery was made in the realm of toothpaste. And I have my Uncle Tim to thank. Well, to be fair, Iím sure my Aunt Donna was the one who actually purchased it. (She probably had a coupon.) But I never would have tried it if my momís youngest brother hadnít been so kind (or, um, forgetful) to leave it at our house after a recent visit.

It has been life changing, I kid you not. For this is no ordinary toothpaste. This is Aquafreshís new isoactive formula. Itís so freaking amazing, you have no idea.

And no, Iím not getting any kick-backs for endorsing it. (Unfortunately.)

The first time I tried it, I was completely unprepared. I thought it was your regular, run of the mill toothpaste. I slathered my toothbrush with what I deemed to be an adequate amount and prepared to be underwhelmed.

Holy foam action, Batman! Within seconds I was literally foaming at the mouth. But the upside was my mouth was squeaky clean. And youíll be happy to know I have since learned to scale back on the quantity.

I never would have known this dental bliss, nor would I have such a well-moisturized visage or tangle-free hair, without our long-standing tradition of crashing the homes of our friends and family.

Mi casa es su casa. And vice versa.

As long as you donít mind sharing your shampoo.

Follow me on Twitter ...@evesunmelissa.

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