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Party regrets




 

 

The party season is now upon us, and with it comes a heaping helping of food, fun, friends and fury. Fury at the guests who assure you, “Can’t wait!” but then, apparently, they can. In fact, they can wait till hell is decorated with cute little pine cone place cards JUST LIKE THE ONES YOU MADE FOR YOUR FRIENDS but that now they won’t see, because they canceled at the last minute.

Do I sound a bit bitter? No more bitter than the SALMON FILLETS I BOUGHT THAT CAN’T BE REFROZEN and that I THOUGHT I was going to serve because I THOUGHT that when my friends said “we’re coming,” it meant they were coming to MY party at MY home. Not to some other party or wherever they went instead, with the oh-so-very-thoughtful (and creative!) excuse, “Oh, we are just so tired! Hope you don’t mind.”

Why would I mind? Heck, would you mind if, say, you were scheduled for a heart transplant on such and such a date and, that morning, your surgeon called and said: “I’m going to be playing ‘go fish’ with my toddler. Would you mind rescheduling for some time next month?”

Not that throwing a party is right up there with cardiothoracic surgery, but it does seem to affect my ticker. When friends call to cancel even as I’m frosting the cake, it’s almost like a stabbing. And when I suspect there’s not REALLY a flu/sick child/meteor-thatjust landed-in-the-living-room to blame, I get downright rabid. And I’m not the only one.

“I find it infuriating,” says Cristina Verdeja Zaldivar, a Miami publicist who loves a party. Folks who cancel “have no idea how annoying this is,” she says. “And it’s so painful because you want your friend to be there, and what can she now possibly have that is so important?”

It is precisely that suspicion — that something else MORE important has bumped you to the “Regrets” column — that is the knife in the heart. (The old heart, because the surgeon still is busy playing with his kid. Now they’re on to Chutes and Ladders.) Not only are you left with an empty chair at your table, but it’s empty because you didn’t make the grade.

“We had a party, and one person showed up,” recalls New York City artist Carmela Kolman. “We felt really rejected!” And Kolman is a woman so attuned to party etiquette that once, when her across-the-street neighbor threw a party that she and her husband didn’t want to attend, they parked their car several blocks away so the hostess couldn’t look out the window and see they were actually home.

Professional party planners — as well as shrinks — counsel us not to take the whole show/no-show thing so personally. “Many people are too self-absorbed to be thinking much about you,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.” When they skip your party, they’re not thinking how bad you’ll feel. “They’re just thinking of themselves.”

Oh, that makes me feel so much better.

No-show guests forget what goes into a party beyond all the cooking and decorating — or even the slightly chewy chips and beer. A party is friendship served up as a festival. A rejection is a — how shall I put this? — rejection.

So this year, if you get an invite and you don’t want to go — or have a sneaking suspicion you’ll end up “too tired” — beg off at the very beginning. Or, better still, say yes.

And show up. ©2011 Creators


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