Springboard to a Mini RantJune 12, 2008
So, there’s this article in the New York times that I easily could have written. It’s about the unfortunate demise of the RSVP.
I’ve noticed the trend myself for about the past ten years. You invite people to an event, you include a telephone number with RSVP, and you hear NOTHING. Or, on the flip side, people will tell you that they will attend but then not actually bother with actually showing up.
I’ve experienced both, and I’m not sure which of the two is more inconvenient.
The worst experience was when I’d planned a birthday party for Trevor and ordered a half-sheet cake. One guest showed up. ONE! We had leftover cake for a week.
One time I thought the term RSVP might be too snooty. Perhaps people didn’t know what it meant, I reasoned. It is French, after all. (Répondez s’il vous plaît.) To combat this potential language gap, I skipped the simple abbreviation and wrote “Please let us know if you will attend.” It didn’t make the least bit of difference. I still heard back from no one.
So, here in the midst of “birthday season,” I find myself in the habit of hounding people about the invitations I’ve sent them. “Hi, just wondering if you received the invitation,” will be my first casual attempt at securing a response. That works on about half of the people. On the remaining half, I kick my nagging up a notch to “please let me know if you will be attending so I can make sure there are enough treats/goodie bags/cake & ice cream/etc. for everyone.” I still fail to get responses from about 25% of the people and have no idea if they will be attending until I either (a) see their face at the door or (b) say goodbye to the last guest and turn off the lights for the night.
The funny thing is, when we receive an invitation that requests an RSVP, the inviters always sound taken aback when I call them to say whether or not we’ll be there. Not in a “Oh, how lovely of you to actually respond,” but in a “Why on earth are you calling to tell me this?” kind of way.
I still regard the RSVP as a courtesy that should be much more widely practiced than it is. if someone has thought enough of me to invite me to a party or other event, then shouldn’t I think enough of them to personally respond to their invitation?