Eva Bradley: Join the party

By EVA BRADLEY - LEFT FIELD


We've had the age of Innocence, the age of free love, the Ice Age, the Bronze Age, the Modern Age and now, it seems, we have found ourselves alone and floundering in the age of non-committal.

WHEN I was a wee thing, I was sat down at the table by my mum and also by my teachers and I was taught How To Behave. According to someone that knew better, there was a proper way to ask for the salt to be passed, a right way to be excused from the table, an appropriate way to write a letter and ... a responsibility to RSVP.

Now I know I wasn't the only child circa 1990 being bored to tears by the finer details of correct etiquette but it seems somewhere between then and now, the lessons have been forgotten.

I'm not the gregarious sort, forever hosting parties but every few years when I do have one I like to do it properly.

A good few weeks before the event, invitations are sent out and disposable plastic glasses and pizza are ordered in direct proportion to the RSVP's received.

Or rather they would be if people RSVP'd.

Perhaps it was because the request to repondez s'il vous plait was made in French, and for reasons we're all sick of talking about, we are well positioned to ignore the French these days.

Either that or the meaning has been lost over time and the people on my guest list were more inclined to interpret "rsvp" as "rock on up, unannounced, should you feel the urge" rather than "please let me know if you're coming".

We've had the age of Innocence, the age of free love, the Ice Age, the Bronze Age, the Modern Age and now, it seems, we have found ourselves alone and floundering in the age of non-committal.

Whether it is for life till death do us part, or even to a birthday party, it seems commitment is all so very yesterday.

Marriage proposals on bended knee just don't have the same gravitas when the response is a luke-warm "can I get back to you on that one?"

No one orders a meal these days without asking the waiter to come back later, and phone calls are now routinely ignored in favour of text messages which allow us to reply in our own good time, if we bother to reply at all.

Where once it was considered the height of rudeness to accept an invitation and then cancel, it has now become standard practice to respond enthusiastically in the first instance but then bail out at the last minute in favour of a better offer or just plain old couch potato apathy.

As we all get busier and clutch our spare time possessively like gold dust in a strong headwind, the habit of holding out till the last moment in case a better offer comes in has become endemic.

And so, as I dust off the barbecue and cue up the party playlist, I am resigned to the fact that I am catering for a group of people that will range somewhere between 10 and 60.

Given no one likes to run out of sausages at their own party, it would appear the only true winner on the day may well end up being my dog, who is eyeing up the catering with the sort of enthusiasm that suggests not everyone is as bothered as I am by people's failure to RSVP.

Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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