Susan Good Stuff, Scribbles

Disclaimer Flag

With Melanie Shotwell and Anni and Mark Bjerke

I’m a people person, an extrovert. I get my batteries charged by great conversation over a flickering fire.

I’ve been pampered lately. The last two weekends I’ve soaked in time with precious friends.

However, having people over to your house requires you to CLEAN your house. And my most-recent guests stayed three nights. So fun . . . and yet, as I cleaned my house I couldn’t help but see the blemishes. Like the dog hair that embeds our carpets and the fact that my fridge hasn’t been cleaned in three years (don’t judge me). And the coffee stains on the carpet, and the unfinished bathroom in the basement.

As soon as my friends walked into the house, I issued a disclaimer: “Hey, my house isn’t fancy, it’s friendly!”

They frowned at me as if to say, “Silly girl, we’re here for you, not your house.”

What is it inside us that requires us to issues disclaimers? The fear of being rejected? Judged? We pondered this as a group all weekend; all three of us women confessed to issuing a slew of disclaimers when guests are around. “Don’t trust the bathroom—I’m not sure who was in there last!” Or, “We can’t help it, we just love our dog, but she leaves a trail of hair.”

One of my friends confessed she’d like to put up yellow crime scene tape in front of her basement door.

So yes, it might be a fear of being judged. But it’s also a desire to warn others of the dangers lurking.

The fellas, however, had no such issues. And that was the sticking point. Apparently they hated the disclaimers. As if we were apologizing for their failure to provide.

Interesting. That thought hadn’t once crossed our collective female minds.

To disclaim or not to disclaim? We batted the question around for an answer. It was only after they left that I came upon a truth.

Disclaiming is what makes it possible for me to invite people into my half-finished, dog-haired home <click to tweet>. With a disclaimer, I can say, “Listen, here I am, and I know it might not be hotel quality, but I love you enough to bring you here, into my mess. The rest is up to you.” Frankly, I think it puts us all at ease. Then no one has to enter the bathroom and worry, “Does she know there is a frog in a cup on the windowsill? Should I tell her?” Yes, I know about the frog. Disclaimer: I have children.

In fact, I think disclaimers are helpful to life. “Yes, I know I haven’t blogged in months—I had kids graduating from college and high school and my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary to plan.” (OK, I’m hearing, “I had my wedding to plan, my fiancé to kill, and Gilder to frame for it! I’ve been swamped!” Can you name that movie?)

In our little town, we have a crosswalk across the main drag. On either end, they provide orange flags that you take and hold up as you cross. Disclaimer flags, “Excuse me, I just have to duck across the street. Sorry for the inconvenience.” It just keeps everyone safe.

I think I’m going to procure my own disclaimer flag, for home, for life. You’re all welcome to use it.