Steve called Mike and explained the situation. Mike said - to paraphrase - good god you certainly don't want me there if your kid is having surgery; I'll just come some other time. Steve offered to pay any change fees, Mike said of course not, and two hours later he had rebooked his flight for the week before Patrick's surgery. Done and done.
I'm reminded of the business adage about how solving a problem for a customer earns more loyalty than simply delivering on expectations in the first place. I was originally fine with Mike's visit but not - you know - wildly excited about it or anything. Now that Mike was so incredibly nice about something that was stressing me out I cannot do enough for him. With the original plan I would have made sure that the guest room had clean sheets and towels but now I want to stock it with rookie baseball cards and, I dunno, what do single men like? Hookers? I've stocked your room with rare liquors and gift baskets filled with sports memorabilia; you'll find prostitutes in the linen closet - welcome to our home.
I have to admit that it took an enormous leap of faith for me to follow you on the etiquette question. I kept thinking surgery! Houseguest! And then I would go all cataleptic. I really wanted to hammer some boards across the windows, hang the lintel with garlic and call it a day. However the overwhelming majority of you seemed to think it was all manageable so after saying really? really? REALLY? in tones of increasing hysteria I accepted that I was wrong about the panic. Patrick's surgery does not constitute a twenty-four hour emergency during which time courtesy can be abandoned like civil rights under martial law. It took more than a few rational comments but eventually I came to believe you and thank you.
As a side note your thoughts helped me to correctly categorize what I had originally framed as a hosting problem as the anxiety issue it is and that was very helpful. People who think they are Napoleon really, you know, believe they are Napoleon. It's not just that they like to wear their big hats sideways. People who have an overactive AAAAAIIIIIEEEE are likewise. Or at least I am. I kept remembering the nights after his tonsil/adenoidectomies that Patrick slept in our bed and woke up choking on his own blood and then I imagined one of Caroline's infrequent but technicolor nightmares and then I pictured Edward coughing his lungs out and then I triangulated that with what was supposed to be a fun visit for Steve and I threw up. The end.
But you are right and Mike was totally cool and charming about the choice to delay and soon he will be swimming in the caramel that I will pour into the guest bathtub and then Patrick will have his surgery and THEN I can feel sick with worry again.
Anyway, sorry to go backwards in a post but you were so helpful that I wanted to let you know what happened and why.
Right now I am in South Dakota on day one of our massive trip. This morning Caroline was in tears before we had even gotten to the stop sign at the end of our road and five minutes later Edward was shrieking "I hate stupid!" which is the absolute worst profanity he knows. Patrick asked how much longer we'd be driving (answer: 620 miles) and then said we must be joking. Good god. Steve and I looked at each other and wondered what we had done. It got better from there and although southern Minnesota looks a lot like central Minnesota and eastern South Dakota looks a lot like that by the time we got to our first butte we all said Ooooooooh.
Onward and upward. My goal is to do a daily post as we travel so synchronize your watches so you can know how long it takes me to blow it.
PS I have been meaning to tell you this - delicately - for a long time but if you leave multiple comments under different names I can see it right away because the ip address comes through with the email. Just so you know. It's fine with me but I thought you might want to know, especially when you decide to choose opposing viewpoints (AHEM.)
PPS I bought the (oh what are their names? the wooden puzzle people - Melissa & Doug) I bought their license plate game for our trip and it has been keeping Patrick happy for the past ten hours. The puzzle is wood, the license plates are exact and attached with elastic bands and every time we spot a new one Patrick gets to flip it over with a satisfying thwap.
PPPS The antibiotics are not working for Patrick and I felt guilty dragging him across the country (literally) because he is clearly functioning at about 40%. I called the ENT before we left and discovered that the dose I had been giving him was supposed to have been repeated twice a day (WHOOPS) and it is not a suprise that he is still infected since the ml's he has been getting wouldn't cure a hamster. We've upped the dose accordingly and I hope he rallies.