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.
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