Thursday, March 31, 2011

RSVP, Again

I have spoken about this before but this social scourge still lingers. Just yesterday, I had the ill fortune to witness a blot on the etiquette landscape in the form of, essentially, a gate-crasher to a luncheon. Here's the story....

I was invited to attend a lunch meeting as a wrap up to a major benefit that was held several weeks ago. During the luncheon, we were expected to celebrate the success of the Gala, as well as share feedback on the event and begin planning for next year. The staff of the organization sent no less than four emails inviting, reminding, nudging, and finally scolding the committee to respond so that they could accurately set up and cater a lunch. I arrived at the appointed time, and was greeted with a lovely table set for 10. The committee members and staff sat and began discussing the items at hand and tucking into the first course of chilled asparagus soup. Imagine our dismay when not one but two people strolled in without having RSVP'd. (Their late arrival, while excessively rude, paled in comparison to the RSVP issue.)

What's a Grace to do?

Ok, it's not exactly on the scale of the Salahi White House Party Crash Incident, but it was rude and Graceless nonetheless. Fortunately for all concerned, the staff of this non profit is replete with Graces. They discreetly rose from the table, swiftly procured clean plates and cutlery, and gave the two Grunts who arrived unexpectedly their seats. This was done with such swiftness and subtlety that the two Grunts never even knew the disruption they had caused. The staffers then were forced to hover around the perimeter of the table, never really having a chance to enjoy the delicious food provided, or conveniently participate in a round table discussion.

So let's try it again. When you are sent an invitation for ANYTHING, you let the hosts know ASAP whether you will accept or decline. Honestly, how long does it take to write an email or FB message? To leave a voice mail? 30 seconds. No one is so busy to render this impossible.

And while I do not consider RSVP's a joking matter, I found this SNL spoof of the Salahi party crash rather funny...


Postpanamamaxi said...

I remember the christening of our youngest son last year. We had a wonderful baptismal service at the little church in our village and we were looking forward to the following celebration.

I had ordered delicious food and drinks, decorated the tables, the room and as I love to do crafting, I hade made nice little personal presents for each guest.

And then my brother brought his girlfriend to the party. Though we did not want her to come, though we even had not invited her.

I had told my brother to come single.

I know, it was quite impolite by me not to invite her, but we had a lot of quarrel with her, she had been very rude, she had stolen data from my computer to harm my friends and hadn't apologized yet - so it was a logical consequence not to invite her to the celebration.

And then she came, sat down and behaved as if she was a welcome and beloved guest!
I was so shocked by her impertinence that I did not know what to say.

I really had a great desire to kick her off but I did not dare, because I was afraid to ruin the party by causing a quarrel. And my husband was no help for me, he mostly avoids conflicts.

So we had to improvise quickly.

Finally my husband's cousin saved us by taking her two-year-old son on her lap during the whole celebration. And this took hours! She had a very inconvenient time with us.

So tell me: how much rudeness do I have to tolerate? And if I decide to defend my own position strictly, will I be as impolite like the gate-crasher?

Looking forward to your answer!

Yours sincerely, Liz from Germany

Social Grace said...

Liz, unfortunately, the way of the Grace means that we must compensate for the rudeness of others. This means that as host, you behave with cordiality and good manners even in the face of bad behavior. Graces strenuously avoid scenes, and this often means that we bite our tongues despite the temptation to tell someone exactly what is on our minds. Good job you for NOT ruining the party by escalating the situation, and kudos to the cousin for helping diffuse things. Thanks for writing!