Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Three, maybe four weeks ago I sent seven adorable (if I may say so) hand-designed invitations to Lucy's seventh birthday party to seven carefully selected friends and classmates. The invitation gave all the relevant information - date, time, location - plus a plea to "please respond to..." and included both my phone number and my email address. Hey, I'm not old fashioned. I don't require an engraved response card. Email is fine. Indeed, I even omitted the apparently misleading RSVP acronym, a not insignificant concession on my part. RSVP, of course, means "please respond," but since even fewer people speak French than respond to invitations these days, and in light of past disappointing response rates, I elected to speak English this year.

Turns out no one speaks English either.

The party in question is now three days away, and here are the numbers:
Yes: 4
No: 0
Maybe: 1

Hang on. Maybe? What, if you don't get a better offer? Well, yes, basically. The family has something else to do but will come by if they finish early enough. Wow. What do you say to that? I mean, it's not that I don't want this child to come to the party, not at all. And I know Lucy will be sad if her friend is not there. In fact, I can easily imagine the little girl pleading with her mother to let her go to the party. This is what we in education call a teachable moment. The mother expresses sympathy for her daughter's disappointment but explains that sometimes in life you have to make choices. At least, that's what happens in my fantasy world, also known as 1955. In 21st-century real life, apparently, it's fine to be rude.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed that these numbers do not add up to seven. That's right - two children (or, to place blame where it's due, their parents) have yet to respond. The "maybe" response notwithstanding, it is hard to imagine that these people do not themselves know whether or not their daughter will attend. Surely by now they have made a decision on this. Why not let me in on it? It is to these people that I am always tempted to say, when they call the morning of the party to say breezily that little Betty will be there, that I'm so delighted to have her if only she'll promise not to eat or drink anything, since the shopping for the party was done a week ago. Oh, and no party favors, either.

I don't say that, of course, because I am a very serious Non-RSVP Enabler, also known as a Polite Hostess. But I think it. You hear me? I'm thinking it!

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