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  • Writer's pictureKL Forslund

SP: Risvep

Captain Locke pulled the chain next to the door. A bell rattled on the other side. A moment later, a pale butler opened the door. The tall, gaunt figure said, “Yes?”

Locke straightened up, “Captain Locke. Here for the seance at Lady Keye’s invitation.”

“Did you return the invitation?”


“Did you respond to the invitation?”

“Uh, no. I was about to travel to highest, brightest Africa and didn’t know how long I would be.”

A slight smile crossed the butler’s face as he said, “I regret to inform you that since you neglected to RSVP, another was found to take your place.”

The door shut, leaving Captain Locke to stand on the steps of Lady Andromeda Key’s manse in puzzlement.

Origin of RSVPs

Maybe the first question should be, “How do I pronounce RSVP?” But that depends on if you mean the acronym, or original phrase “Répondez s'il vous plaît” in French. Which translates to “respond, if you please.”

It appeared in the early 19th century, one example from 1825 as instructions on how to invite people to an event. Earlier usage includes a story of folks receiving such a missive and having no clue what RSVP meant. Which is funny considering the modern foolery that happens when new acronyms and vernacular pop up to confuse people.

Thus it seems, someone planned a party, knew some French, decided to be both fancy and lazy. Which brings us to the standard confirmation that you’ll attend.

Rules of Invitation

Per the original instruction guide, invitations should be sent out four to six weeks in advance of the event. Granted, that was when ponies played a big role in the transmission of data. In our modern era, I’d advise at least 2 weeks in digital mediums. People need more than a week’s notice, and a shorter time means a higher chance of a prior commitment.

Two Invites, One Body

People with a busy social calendar inevitably run into calendar conflict. Two opportunities for the same date. How do you choose? What if you’ve already accepted one invite when another arrives?

This can get complicated if we let it, but some basic rules can be applied to get to a polite outcome.

  • Respond in a timely manner.

  • Keep your commitment when possible

  • You can decline

  • Accept because you truly want to and can attend

  • You can cancel, but do not do so for frivolous reasons

  • Do not swap for a better offer

  • Do what you said

Commitment and Consequence

Are there stakes for not going to a party? It turns out yes. Those who feel snubbed may be disinclined to invite you again. No-shows and cancellations run that risk. Feelings are how people work, and if you disappoint them, expect to see fewer invitations. The solution is simple: keep your commitment and be honest.

Failing this creates stress for the host. Do they have enough food? Seating? Is anybody even coming? The last can be most stressful. Anxiety inducing even. It’s a wonder we humans even have gatherings.

Anxiously Evented

I’m not an expert on mental health in any way, but naturally I’ve got an opinion. For some folks, going to an event can induce anxiety. Maybe even making the decision. For those of us who aren’t experiencing that, we need to be mindful that some might struggle.

If it does happen to you:

  • Consider sending a Maybe instead

  • Send a cancelation if you can when you opt to stay home

  • Don’t lie, but a “sorry I had to back out” will suffice

Humans are social creatures. It is healthy to gather. But some events create extra challenges. Know your guests. Know your comfort level.

The Response

Locke sat at his desk, reviewing correspondence. The stack seemed shorter than usual this month. He noticed a lack of any invitations. Usually the pile would topple over from parties he would decline to his dashing lifestyle of running missions for the government. Now, in the spare time he found that he would have even more spare time with not one gala, soiree, or tea to attend.

He could think of only one reason.

Lady Andromeda.

Captain Locke drew forth a clean sheet of paper and readied his quill for an apology letter.


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