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I know what RSVP means? You probably do too. But it's clear that we are in a minority.

RSVP - origin: French, acronym - repondez s'il vous plait

From an era of manners and etiquette (... also French). Whilst we native English speakers are not  renown for our enthusiasm or ability to grasp and learn another language (and indeed our tenure on our own tongue is often forged on dodgy ground), there are elements of the French language that creep into our everyday lives. RSVP is one such element. Neatly capitalised at the bottom of invitations, it politely asks for attention. Even if ignorant of the litoral meaning, its message is clear to anyone who has ever received an invitation - reply! Please reply.

I know that. You know that. We both know what is expected; how to respond. In other words, those little letters standing to attention, so neatly vowel-less, and requiring of lovely linguistic acrobatics, prick us into action and elicit the desired response - a reply. Or do they?

I have a theory that how, when and if you respond to an invitation gives an indication of how old you are.

Here goes - invitation scenario:

An invitation drops onto your doormat; arrives as a text on your phone; appears in your email inbox; flutters across your instagram account; is shared with you on Facebook; bobs up the beach sealed in its bottle or arrives in another form of inviter to invitee communication. What you do next betrays your age.

If you answer yes to one of these questions, you are under 30

Do you read the invitation and 'file it' with the other invitations you have already received for that date? You'll wait to see what else comes in, before committing to any.

Do you on the morning of the event shuffle through the options - discard those from boring people; people with too little money to hold a good party; those whose music or style you find a bit weird and all the nerds-who-are-trying-too-hard-to-fit-in?

Do you plan an itinerary ordering the desirable invitations into a temporal and geographic story-line for the evening?

Do you then spend the next few hours creating a heap of clothes as you on the one hand try to decide what to wear while simultaneously on the other sending texts and photos to your friends, checking out who's going where and rearranging your evening's itinerary?

Do you sometime the following afternoon call the friends whose parties you didn't attend and make out that some disaster occurred which interrupted your absolute 100% intention of attending their fabulous party and mute your yawns as you 'listen' while uploading pictures of your actual night? Do you care that they might see them? Not really.

Did you RSVP? Or did you forget? Or did you simply ignore the request to reply? Do you regard replying as 'a bit lame tbh?'

If alternatively you answer yes to one of these questions then you are either over 30 or under 30 and impeccably well brought up

Do you receive an invitation and reply immediately? Or at least within a couple of days? Even if it's from great aunt Eliza and her awful third husband who live in a damp bungalow with sticky carpets and a crumb-strewn sofa where you will be obliged to smile and tolerate their cat Binky. You're allergic to cats and will spend the next 3 days applying steroid cream to the flare-up of your hand eczema. The couple of days before replying are to give to time to rehearse your excuse. But you'll still reply.

Do you doggedly stick to the schedule dictated by your affirmative reply to an invitation even when another invitation to a much better, much more preferable, much more populated with people whom you actually know event on the same day and at the same time arrives? Because that's the polite thing to do? You even remember to RSVP your regrets to the second invitation.

Do you not only RSVP but also heed the dress code? Do you know how to write a proper reply to a formal embossed card invitation?

Do social media invitations worry you? Do you trust your friends not to share your party details with the rest of the world?

Is your idea of a nightmare planning the perfect party only to discover that you have no idea how many guests you are catering for - you invited 60, 30 have replied, you know you have 20 coming but what about the other 30? Do you contact them again? Do you cater for them anyway and risk having half the food wasted? And what about the 10 who phone on the day to explain that due to 'unforeseen circumstances' they won't be coming after all? Suddenly you have an intimate dinner feast and are sending your loyal handful of friends home with left-overs. And you spend all evening wondering who might arrive unannounced and when they do why you greeted them so enthusiastically instead of turning them away - no reply, no entry? Actually ... maybe that's an idea - in order to receive party details venue, time etc you must reply first. RSVPFD (RSVP For Details).

So what age are you? Do you agree?

Alternatives - RFFS (think you can guess that one - not really me, too rude); ROIKY (reply or I'll kill you - a bit too Don Corleone-like); or RYI (reply you idiot)!


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