It's always fun to discover something that strikes a discordant note with people, and RSVPing is apparently such a thing.
More specifically, it really ticks people off when other people don't RSVP. And judging from the people who are ticked off, pretty much most of us don't.
A fellow journalist here at The Rim Review put it this way (and you must imagine her almost screaming these words, because she almost was):
"When you put RSVP on the bottom, you wind up having to call everybody on the party list because nobody, NOBODY,
N-O-B-O-D-Y RSVPs. And if they do RSVP and say they'll be there, they don't bother to call if something comes up and they won't be there. I don't know if that's just here where the pace of life is supposed to be slower, or everywhere. But nobody RSVPs. Nobody."
A bit hysterical, but I can relate. A couple wifetimes ago, my then-current and I threw a party and invited dozens of friends. Three showed up, and I want you to know it ticks me off to this day.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves or take anything for granted.
RSVP is actually an acronym that stands for "respondez s'il vous plait." That's French for "respond if you please" or "please respond."
When you see RSVP on an invitation, it means the person inviting you to the function would like you to let him or her know whether you will attend. Either yea or nay. (And, no, you can't bring along the kids or other uninvited guests.)
It helps with the planning process to have an accurate count. And, in the case of a catered event like a wedding, an accurate count means saving a considerable amount of money.
So why don't people RSVP? Among the theories I can come up with are the following:
- People don't know what RSVP means.
(No excuse, people. We live in a world of acronyms. Nobody has a problem understanding what BS or IRS or NRA or SOB or NFL or NCAA means.)
- People are getting ruder by the minute.
(True, people, but it's not real smart to be rude to those who invite you to their parties -- unless, of course, you want to lead a cold, miserable, lonely life.)
- People are getting dumber all the time.
(Also true, people. And don't try to deny it. You're getting dumber. I'm getting dumber. We're all getting dumber. The proof is in the Congress we elected.)
- People don't pick their friends very carefully.
(The theory goes that people who don't RSVP make bad friends who probably can't be counted on for much of anything else either.)
- People are boycotting everything French.
(You've seen the bumper stickers around town, but this one doesn't fly anymore. Turns out the French were right about that war thing after all. Yes, they can be arrogant and sanctimonious, but more often than not we richly deserve it.)
(The theory here is that a community that runs on Payson time -- I'll get there when I get there no matter what I promised or how late I am -- wouldn't have a problem blowing off party invitations.)
In my opinion, the way to overcome one or any combination of the above excuses is to scare the bejesus out of the people you invite to your parties. I mean, "Respond if you please," and even "Please respond" are way too nice a way to put it.
Here are some thoughts on how to do that:
- Change the acronym from RSVP to ROD for "Reply Or Die." RSVP loses something from the original French and "Reply or Die" is not only more forceful, but it also puts some of the poetry back in.
- Or change the acronym from RSVP to RRIP for "Respond or Rest In Peace" -- just a bit subtler than "Reply or Die."
- Or to COE for "Come Or Else" -- which adds the element of mystery to your social event.
- Play the God card. Word your invitation to begin, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the Johnsons invite you to..." or, perhaps, "Susie and Jesus request the honor of your presence...."
- Forget the free beer. Promise your guests free water. In the Rim Country that's solid gold.
- Or make it an all-you-can-eat fish fry. No Rimaroo can turn down an all-you-can-eat fish fry. But to make it an authentic Rim Country experience, charge 50 cents to substitute a baked potato for fries.
- Better yet, put a picture of a severed horse head on the invitation as a subtle reminder that you and your social events are not to be trifled with. (And be sure to go to www.kropserkel.com and check out the life-sized stuffed severed horse head that you can purchase for a deserving no-show for just $70. "Revenge," the site says, "is a dish best served stuffed. Send someone a message they will never forget.")
- And whatever you do, don't put "Please RSVP" on your invitation because then you're saying, "Please respond please."
Begging doesn't become you.