Celia Walden is ‘a ter­ri­ble per­son’; Lingo bingo The mean­ing of ‘squad goals’

I ticked the ‘maybe’ box on an RSVP. I’m a ter­ri­ble per­son.

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - NEWS - Illustrati­on by Laura Laine

How many things a day do we de­spise our­selves, in a small way, for do­ing? Live in LA and you mul­ti­ply the de­gree of self-loathing by 10. Hand­ing your three-year-old an iPhone so you can fnish your ve­gan chilli in peace while she flls a restau­rant with the he­lium strains of Doc McStufns pales in com­par­i­son to the fact that you are eat­ing ve­gan chilli in the frst place. Us­ing the ex­pres­sion ‘reach­ing out’, end­ing an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of sen­tences on up-notes, con­duct­ing Google searches for ‘dresses with mesh in­serts’, buy­ing and wear­ing dresses with mesh in­serts, con­sult­ing a food zo­diac and ac­tively con­sid­er­ing hav­ing a nos­tril re­duc­tion (af­ter be­ing told by a Qual­ifed Med­i­cal Pro­fes­sional that they’re erring on the side of porcine) are all things that are li­able to hap­pen to you if you spend too much time in la-la land.

But the one act I still shud­der to think I com­mit­ted (and last week, no less), the thing I still loathe my­self for in no small way, took place on home soil, in Blighty – a place I was look­ing for­ward to spend­ing more time in over the next few months; a refuge, I had thought, from the laugh­ing acad­emy we’ve been liv­ing in. There’s no easy way to say this: I ticked the ‘maybe’ box on an RSVP.

‘Maybe?’ my hus­band had snorted when the din­ner in­vi­ta­tion frst ar­rived. ‘It’s a thing,’ I ex­plained. ‘Back in LA, they’ll al­ways give you a “maybe” op­tion.’ He scofed, I scofed, and as soon as his back was turned I ticked it. I couldn’t help my­self. In the mo­ment that hyp­notic word stood out from the defnite op­tions on ei­ther side of it (mu­tu­ally su­fo­cat­ing, some­how) like the one bold let­ter in an eye test – as un­ex­pected and lux­u­ri­ous as a chaise longue half­way along one of those in­ter­minable Gatwick North Ter­mi­nal cor­ri­dors.

Only when I’d sent the card – bask­ing in a uni­verse of end­less pos­si­bil­ity all the way to the post­box – did it oc­cur to me that what I’d just done wasn’t sim­ply rude but vul­gar.

‘But they give you the op­tion,’ I told my friend Jes­sica later that night in a half-hearted at­tempt to de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble. ‘They also give you the op­tion of a French-tip pedi­cure at the nail salon,’ she said, frown­ing, ‘but no­body takes it.’ Isn’t it bet­ter, though, I pushed, than the ‘as­pi­ra­tional RSVP’? Re­ply­ing ‘yes’ for your spirit – who wouldn’t miss it for the world – when you know for cer­tain that come the date and time, your fesh will be fused to the couch? She didn’t have to an­swer. I knew from the ‘it’s all pretty vile’ look on her face that it was all pretty vile. And like all vile things, it can al­most cer­tainly be blamed on so­cial me­dia – once de­scribed in the New York

Times as con­tain­ing ‘a huge lounge called Wig­gle Room’ – which lends a US-dat­ing-style men­tal­ity to life and turns peo­ple into gi­ant com­mit­ment-phobes, con­vinced that some­one, some­where is hav­ing a bet­ter time, and de­mand­ing op­tions. This is pre­sum­ably why e-vite web ser­vices are think­ing of ex­pand­ing on their new three-choice for­mat to in­clude ‘yes – maybe’ and ‘no – maybe’. And ac­tu­ally, I’m all for it. Be­cause that way you’d know ex­actly who to seat on the kids’ ta­ble and serve up ve­gan chilli to.

Only when I’d sent the card, bask­ing in a uni­verse of end­less pos­si­bil­ity, did it oc­cur to me that what I’d just done wasn’t sim­ply rude but vul­gar

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