real life

"An open letter to all the people who bailed on me this weekend."

Excuse me, but I need a word.

A terse word, as my nana would say with a disappointed shake of the head. 

You might have noticed two-or-so weeks ago, between being tagged in dog related content and extreme cyst extractions, you received an invite to a very special and very exciting birthday dinner.

To be clear, there are some people in the world who do not have friends to invite them to things.

There are people who long for invites to social engagements, and are so keen on friendship that they take up taekwondo classes or join an obscure society at University with people who wear school shoes with jeans and smell like yesterday’s sweat.

Can you imagine?

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team talk about how to cancel plans without looking like a jerk. Post continues after audio. 

T’was not my birthday dinner on Saturday night, of course. That would be very odd given my birthday is in December.

Rather, it was for a very close friend who was up for the weekend, who, like most people, only has one birthday a goddamn year and each represents edging closer to death because we only have a finite amount of time on this planet before we die. Forever. 

But, like, no big deal.

Anywho, there were some who declined from the outset. They had other commitments or were away. They were punctual and efficient and no one’s feelings were hurt because they behaved like responsible adults.

And then there were 14 who were adamant they were attending.

The funny thing about time and how it inevitably continues, is that it offers you various moments to change your mind. 

Over that two week period, you could jump onto Facebook where you quite literally live your day to day life, and think, “You know what? Neh. I’d rather empty the lint filter in my dryer on Saturday night. I shall let them know I am no longer attending due to more pressing engagements.”

And. That. Would. Be. Fine.

Image via Getty.

But, no. As time rolled on, your commitment remained. You were attending a birthday dinner on Saturday night, and someone would be making a reservation.

Now - I don't mean to whinge (that's a lie) but making a booking was more difficult than I anticipated. Most places demand that a table of 14 adhere to a set menu, which equates to about $60 a head. According to my calculations, that is too many monies.

I probably rang six places, thinking to myself, "Damn, this process would be easier if there were only, say, 10 of us..." but I persevered.

Eventually we settled on a B.Y.O Thai place with no set menu and all was right in the world.

And then came Saturday.

I could feel it in my loins that people were planning on being shit. I could smell it in the air.

I sense something...

I even texted a number of you TO CONFIRM and say "SEE YOU AT 7PM TONIGHT WOOHOO".

As the time grew nearer, cracks began to show. My housemate who I had been speaking to all week about this godforesaken dinner asked at 5pm, "Hey, can I borrow your car tonight?"

"Yeah," I responded, "Are you driving to dinner tonight?"

"Ah no, I have soccer at 7pm."


Furthermore... who has soccer at 7pm on a Saturday night? That's a ridiculous time for recreational sport.

Anyway, so it turned out the soccer game he plays literally every week just popped up out of nowhere and suddenly he had to go. But he'd meet us later, he assured. After he got home and had a shower. Maybe 9:30 ish.


You serious?

My phone had been oddly quiet, until I got a call at 6:50pm from a friend who I was sure was on his way.

"Shouldn't you be there?" he laughed, and I sensed guilt in his voice.

He continued, "Yeah so Rebecca and I have a play at 7:30 tonight but we might come meet you after for like one drink."

Are you... are you for serious? 

You know what doesn't pop up unexpectedly? A play. That you most definitely bought tickets for after looking at each other and asking, "Do we have anything on this Saturday night?"

YES. YES YOU DO. I even brought it up casually in conversation so you wouldn't forget.

We got to the restaurant, and in case you were wondering, it was a bloody great night. In the end there were nine of us, because two others just didn't show and I have no idea why - they might be dead.

Or more likely it got to 6pm and they thought, "Eh, The Handmaids Tale has dropped. Who needs friends?"

Point is - if I'd know there would only be nine of us, we could have gone bloody anywhere. Our options would have been limitless.

Here are three rules everyone should stick on their fridge:

  • One is absolutely allowed to decline an invite, and the sooner the better. You do not even need an excuse. Just say you can't come.
  • One is not allowed to bail within 24 hours of the event, unless they have a) Gone into labour, b) Are in hospital or c) There has been a death in the family. If you wake up on Saturday morning and you have plans, YOU ARE GOING.
  • One should go. That is your default. Events are not entirely optional. If someone has taken the time to invite you to a thing, quit trying to find a way out of it. Everyone gets that feeling at 4pm like, "Ugh, do I really wanna go?" but it passes and you will end up having a good time.

I also challenge everyone to consider what I have termed 'The Philosophical Party Conundrum'.

It's 5pm and you think you'd rather not go, or might just buy tickets to a play (??) instead. Ask yourself this question; What if everyone invited did that? If everyone treated the event as optional? Then, I want you to imagine the person whose birthday it is sitting alone with a party hat on (no one actually wears party hats but it's for effect) completely alone crying big ugly sobs, while shovelling pieces of birthday cake into their sad mouth.

Sit with that image. 

I rest my case.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 

You can follow Jessie Stephens on Facebook, here