Sunday, April 29, 2012

Regrets, Only

A lot of adults know what the acronym RSVP means, even if they can’t exactly recreate the actual phrase the letters indicate (répondez s'il vous plaît). Sure, it’s a French phrase, and therefore unintelligible to the majority of Americans, but the acronym has been in use for an awfully long time, and certainly long enough for most folks to have encountered.

The nuances of etiquette have changed over the years with regard to the RSVP. It used to be that one was obligated to respond regardless of one’s ability to attend the event to which one was invited. More recently, people decided that it simply means “regrets only,” which obligates a person to inform the host / hostess only if one could NOT attend.

However, if one IS planning to show up, it still means respond, please. In fact, it means respond, via any of the multiple means of reaching me I have included, so that I will know how much food to prepare and how many places to set and how many gift bags to make, and how many bottles of wine I need to chill, please.

We still use the antiquated acronym in French to lend our social gatherings the idea, if not the actual application, of a kind of good behaviors and common decency, a sense of occasion and class. It suggests that one treat the invitation with the same kind of respect one would expect to be treated with at the event.

Today, it seems that RSVP means don’t respond at all. And that’s just plain rude. If you are a parent whose child receives a party invitation, it behooves you to let the hosts know if your child will be attending. Why? Because somewhere out there is a child who wants your child to share an important celebration with him or her. That child hopes your child can attend. It’s not too much trouble to call on the phone you carry with you 24/7, send a text, or email.

There is an assumption that because today the internet has made exposure to vast amounts of knowledge so easily accessible, people are more knowledgeable. This is not true. In fact, the reverse has been made possible: because you can look anything up, people don’t bother. It is this attitude that allows folks to ignore the RSVP.

Don’t make the hosts regret inviting you in the first place. Répondez s'il vous plaît, already. 

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