I can’t make DINNER TONIGHT... Let’s RESCHEDULE... Next Friday? NEXT SEPTEMBER? How about NEVER…
Eva Wiseman explores why bailing is the new going out
WE’RE CAUGHT in A CULT of COMPETITIVE ‘BUSYNESS’, ACCEPTING INVITATIONS, MAKING PLANS AND THEN CANCELLING all TOO EASILY. BUT THERE’S SOMETHING TO LEARN FROM LIVING in the GOLDEN AGE of BAILING, says EVA WISEMAN
It was a normal afternoon in June that suddenly cracked open to reveal one of the most magical gifts. An invitation to a distant cousin’s wedding had been sent to my mum, and the date arrived like a clump of wet tissue landing on the floor. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t seen the invitation, or written down the day, it was that I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to eat the canapés, I didn’t want to stand in heels, I didn’t want to consider the dress, yawn discreetly into my hand. And it wasn’t personal, Esther, if you’re reading this. It was impersonal – it was universal. It was a feeling that I and you and every other person who wakes up at six in the morning and has quite a lot of Netflix to catch up on feels most weekends – it was the yearn to bail.
So it was June, and my mum, being an angel, phoned up the cousin’s dad. Of course I wasn’t going to call – are you mad? It was her fault, she said. She hadn’t passed on the invitation, and so was very sorry to call so late, the day before, but Eva wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding. There was a pause. Quite a long pause, as she tells it, a pause that crawled down the line and sat sweatily beside her with a look of disgusted fury. They’d already organised the catering, he said. Would… Would he like us to reimburse them? My mum called me as soon as she hung up. When she told me that they had agreed on a cheque for £3O ‘for the vegetarian option’, I had to sit down for a minute. £3O – so simple. Putting a price on flakiness, it could be the answer to all our problems. I had purchased the right to forfeit my guilt. I allowed myself a moment of quiet glee, imagining an extra option that should be attached to every RSVP – yes, no, and ‘with the best will in the world, here’s £3O’.
This is the age of flaking. Thanks to technology that allows a fluid flexibility to arrangements, the modern culture of busyness, and an increasing ambiguity to our friendships (especially those born online), bailing on plans has come to define our generation. A survey of 2,OOO British people