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RSVP — French for “I’ve got class”

I just today received my first invitation of the 2008 holiday season. They’re late in coming this year, but they might just be fewer than years past. I think the economy has relegated most parties to the sidelines. The invitation, to which I unfortunately had to send regrets, inspired me to post the following rant against those callow enough to think RSVP means “come if you feel like and don’t have anything better to do.”:

A French acronym for “Répondez S’il Vous Plaît,” RSVP, when translated, means “Let me know whether you’re coming or not so I can know whether to order an extra truckload of liquor and hide all the jewelry.” (Okay, not quite… but you get the idea.)

What kind of person doesn’t RSVP? Are their minds so discombobulated that they really can’t determine whether they’re free and able and interested in attending a sit-down dinner, a two-hour booze and schmooze, or a full-out par-tay in two or three or four weeks’ time?

For all you host and hostess wanna-bes, let me break it down for you.

If an acquaintance hasn’t RSVP’d to you within a week of receiving your invitation – that person isn’t interested in being counted in your circle of friends. That person is waiting to see if they just might get invited to something a little higher up in the hot factor than your backyard barbeque.

If a friend hasn’t RSVP’d to you within a week, well, that means something altogether different. It means they’re not your friend, and they’re rude to boot. Sorry to break it to you.

Just like friends don’t let friends drive even slightly drunk, friends – real ones – don’t leave friends hanging – even a little. Real friends respond quickly and surely as to whether they’re coming or not, and if they are, they even offer to bring a little sumpin’ sumpin’ (a bottle of vino, a platter of shrimp, a smart, single guy who’s just dying to meet you).

Most etiquette advisors say an invitation should be accepted or declined within two to three days of receipt. So most of the people who have a shred of social politesse should let you know fairly straight away, but at the very latest by the “please respond by” date if one is given.

People who don’t RSVP at all fall into two categories: socially-challenged fumblers or Wolfe-esque X-rays holding out for a society-page-worthy invite. Either way, you don’t want them at your gathering.

Of course, there is one lower rung on the social graces ladder, and that’s occupied by the bane of any soirée-planner – the mooks who say “maybe.”

The “maybe’s” are the ones who leave long rambling messages on your voicemail that remind you of that old saw about lawyers, lying, and lips moving.

The “maybe’s” are the ones who unbelievably ask who else you’ve invited. They’re the ones who say yeah, um, maybe…. if I can get a sitter, if I can fit into last year’s LBD, if the stars are in alignment.

But what a “maybe” boils down to is this: Maybe I’ll come … if I don’t get a better offer in the meantime.

Arrrggggh. I’d rather deal with a dozen knuckleheads who show up having not RSVP’d at all than deal with the one mook who can’t give me a straight answer or who, worse yet, delays responding until a couple of days beforehand so they can make sure nothing bigger, brighter and better is going to appear on the social horizon.

As Heidi Klum of Project Runway likes to say… you’re either in or you’re out, and when it comes to RSVPs, the only civilized response is delighted acceptance or simple regrets.

Look at your calendar, determine if you’re available, decide if you’re interested, RSVP quickly with a yes or no, and then, if you’ve said yes, unless there’s a death or a birth in the family, show up – with bells on.

Oh, and a word to all the hosts and hostesses out there. Never ask a person who sends their regrets why they can’t make it. It’s none of your business and it’s impolite to ask.

And, never, ever, call an invitee to see if they’re coming or not. If the person is so uncouth that they haven’t responded by the RSVP date, scratch them off the list, and quite possibly delete them entirely from your rolodex.

Better to have only one friend on your invite list and split a single shaker-full of martini just two ways, than have a roomful of faux-friends quaffing you down to that last drop of vodka.

Posted on November 29th, 2008Comments RSS Feed
One Response to RSVP — French for “I’ve got class”
  1. So she did turn you down Captain for a boat ride on the Gulf?I told you NOT to invite strippers on the boat.MC has class:-)


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