Be Polite, Do It Right And Respondez
LC Van Savage
By now anyone who’s ever read this column knows I’m 67 years old and that according to my exalted standards, my ideas on how life should be are antediluvian, creaky, out of date, annoying and boring. Oh, and tedious. And preachy. I’m saying all these things for you so you won’t have to.
So here goes. It’s today’s lack of manners. Don’t yawn. I won’t go through the very, very long litany of how obnoxious people have become toward each other. No, I’ll focus on one thing, and it’s the art of RSVP-ing. Don’t know what that is? Sure you do. You don’t have to speak French to know it translates to Respondez S’il Vous Plait, (answer, if you please) but just in case you’ve been maybe living with the Inuit who perhaps may not know what it means, and besides I hear they’re not rude to each other anyway, RSVP is four initials that ask people to respond to an invitation, please, to let the invitation-sender know if you’ll be showing up.
And guess what folks? Some people don’t think it’s necessary to respondez at all anymore. Ever. A party-giver may have no way at all of knowing how many people will be appearing at the meticulously planned-for affair because people today don’t think RVSP-ing is in the least necessary. And what the hell! I mean who cares if the host spends a queen’s ransom buying and preparing food fit for gods just to sit and hope people will arrive and actually eat it at the time mentioned on the invitation. And etiquette? Yet another word the French invented solely to aggravate us. Sure, blame our bad, cretinish manners on those irritating French personnes instead of ourselves.
I recently threw a big bash with a couple of friends, and on the invitations we wrote, of course, RSVP. Most people politely responded and so we were able to plan. But I had to hear from some of the guests that a few people invited wouldn’t be able to make it. Did they bother to tell me? No. Those people couldn’t even take the time to let me know how they felt about attending; they just opted to not show up. How rude is that? Very.
Why do people refuse to respondez? What’s the deal with that? I remember one awful scene when I was a young woman. I attended a very fancy sit-down après-wedding dinner party. Everyone was well into his/her her cups and filet mignons when suddenly the doors opened and a family of six happily roared in. The stunned mother of the bride stood and stared at them. “We---but---Ralph and Mildred, we never heard from you. I’m very much afraid we didn’t plan on the extra meals ---you did not RSVP so we didn’t expect you. Oh, or your four charming children either,” she stammered, glowering down at them with an expression of having just eaten a large, hairy bug.
“Oh--- yeah----well,” said Ralph, while he and his family, like jackals at the corpse of a ripe bison, stared at the rich provisions heaped on the tables.
“Well,” said Ralph’s wife Mildred, a razorish edge to her voice, “you must have known we’d be here. After all, we’re family.” And they began to look around for ways to force themselves to the multitude of wedding troughs.
The mother of the bride announced loudly, “No, we certainly did not know you’d be here, so family or not, we simply cannot suddenly produce 6 more full and very expensive dinners. Good evening.” And she glared them out of the room. Glorious!
Come on folks. Let’s show some class and give our hosts a break. When we’re invited somewhere and see those 4 French letters at the bottom of the invitation, let’s graciously respondez, OK? You ask if this really matters. You’re kidding, right?
Hear LC and partner Dave Wilkinson on
Tuesdays 12:30 to 1PM,
or on http://studorgs.bowdoin.edu/wbor.