I think I have figured out a mystery that has puzzled me for years. The mystery lies in the phenomenon that when you invite people to a social event, and ask that they RSVP, they do not. They don’t do anything. In other words, they don’t let you know whether they can or cannot attend your event. They don’t RSVP, they don’t even let you know if they are thinking about it, they do nothing. I know I mentioned that they do nothing, but it bears repeating. Sometimes they show up at your event like you can read minds from a distance and should have known they were coming. Other times, when you run into them after the event they still say nothing at all. Of course I am assuming they did get the invite.
In my Kids Cooking, Manners and Etiquette class I harp on the concept of responding to an invitation. I try to instill the importance of being a good guest, beginning with thanking the person who invited you for the invitation and then letting them know if you can attend. It is simple, free and so polite. If you are not sure, let them know that. One thing I tell the kids not to do is to let the potential host know you are waiting to see if something better comes along before you RSVP.
RSVP is an abbreviation of the French phrase “Respondez s’il vous plait.” Translated it literally means Respond Please or you could even change it to Please Respond if that sounded more natural. It is not very hard. This isn’t a new thing. People have been using RSVP for almost a hundred years here in the U.S., thanks to Emily Post. So here is the key to the mystery as I see it, people must simply not understand French. They could be put off with the fact that “there aren’t vowels in that French word!” And there is a chance that they don’t know what an acronym is. But I know for a fact that most people that we invite to our events are educated and probably know these things. It must just be a cultural thing, like eating snails, veal brains or perhaps Coquille St. Jaques, whoever he is.