By ANNE DONNELL
What do the letters “RSVP” stand for? Is it English? Do you have any idea why people disregard this and don’t show up for dinners and teas without replying?
-A Recent Disgruntled Hostess
Quoting Donna Pilato on About.com: “I hear more and more often, and have found in my personal experience, that hosts often do not receive firm indications whether guests plan to attend their parties, even if RSVP is clearly printed on the invitation. This could mean either one of two things. First it could mean that rudeness is a growing trend in our society. Or, as I would prefer to believe, people no longer understand what the term means…”
Huh! Being an old grump I think people know what it means. They also blithely ignore “Please Reply” and “Regrets Only” – certainly the meaning’s clear on those two.
RSVP is French (répondez s'il vous plait), and that means “Please Respond.” Note one of Captain Kangaroo’s “Magic Words:” Please.
An invitation doesn’t always mean the recipient is going to be THE STAR (a possibility, though), but an invitation usually means the recipient will be welcomed to a heavily cleaned and rearranged environment, probably home to at least one of the hosts, and the recipient will be fed well and offered a variety of interesting beverages and very pleasant company. Hanging parties are no longer in vogue.
The recipient’s duty? (1) To show up at the proper time and place, clean and as appropriately dressed as he or she can manage; and (2) If the invitation requests, to indicate acceptance of the invitation, usually by making a phone call. The telephone number is on the invitation! With answering machines about omnipresent notifying a host of one’s intentions is NOT difficult or time consuming.
Replying to an invitation allows the host or hosts to plan accurately how much food, beverage, how many plates, napkins, eating utensils, chairs, tables, centerpieces, candles, tablecloths, placemats. And don’t add whatever until you’ve borrowed and returned a few tables and chairs and plates and glasses that were never used because invited guests didn’t come and didn’t say they weren’t coming.
Responding to invitations is so easy it can be forgotten; all of us probably have some blotches there. A word or note of apology is always in order. Not nice to call the hostess the day of the event (busy, busy, busy) and ask if it’s still all right to come, unless you’re very close to this person. (Expect some new coolness in the closeness.) And, when going through a pile of old mail and finding an invitation to an event now history, write a note or call. Apologize.
I think, unlike the more generous Ms. Pilato, quoted in the first paragraph, rudeness is a growing trend in our society. A little shopping after a harrowing, honk-and-gesture-filled drive (don’t forget the terrors of the parking lot) ought to convince anyone that people of all ages are ruder than ever. Condemnation here doesn’t belong only to the young who always get it anyway; there are grey-haired horrors out there, too, cutting off others at doorways, pushing into lines, talking too loud on their cell phones, leaving their shopping carts free to roll all over the parking lot. And much more.
Well, the place to begin is always with oneself. Hmmm.
ONLINE DEPARTMENT. Said to be “real notes written by parents in the Memphis school district.” (Thanks, TP) Spellings have been left intact. • My son is under a doctor's care and should not take PE today. Please execute him. • Please exkuce lisa for being absent she was sick and i had her shot. • Dear school: please ecsc's john being absent on jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and also 33. • Please excuse roland from p.e for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip. • John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face. • Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part. • Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins. • Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side. • Please excuse ray friday from school. He has very loose vowels. • Please excuse tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leak. • Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust. • Please excuse jimmy for being. It was his father's fault. • Please excuse jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it monday. We thought it was sunday. • Sally won't be in school a week from friday. We have to attend her funeral. • My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the marines. • Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well. • Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover. • Maryann was absent december 11-16, because she had a fever, sorethroat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever an sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night.
Well, teachers have always said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’ll add that all the fun isn’t in Memphis!
BW (Bigtime Word) procellus – stormy, tempestuous. Like homeroom.