Thursday, April 8, 2010

Please Respond…maybe

Ahh, ‘maybe’, now there’s a word that really grinds my bones. It has to be one of the most pointless and under-achieving words in the history of language. It’s a non-answer, it invokes no action and no real effort, it only triggers an internal-process that can’t be read by an external entity. Allow me to garnish you with some questions where ‘maybe’ is useless: “Doctor, am I going to die?” “Am I a boy?” “Do I still have a social life?” “Was that a ‘yes’?” “For five marks, did Stalin kill a lot of people?” “You bolted these wheels to the chassis of the car, right?” Here’s the punch line: I have a family friend, a young woman, older than myself, she has never been the one to stay in the same country for an extended period of time, and with that comes her credible insight into different forms of culture. Quite a while back, I confided in her about my declining social life. I explained that I was finding it difficult to meet someone who I could trust to show up to plans we had made or to get back to me about something that got a massive ‘maybe’ stamped on it. I even told her that one of the many reasons I almost cancelled my eighteenth birthday party was because I was already predicting that half of the guest list who had told me that they were attending weren’t actually going to attend, which they did not. Anyway, comparatively with her past experiences as a slightly older female who has also travelled, she was able to shed some light on what had been troubling me. She said that between Sydney and other cities around the world, she found that the youth here in Sydney, Australia tend to ignore the traditional first-in, first-served policy (much like in restaurant queues) and are now becoming more concerned with plans that could come up between then and now than the plans that they already have, like they are always waiting to see if something better will come up. Her observance really inspired some comfort, affirmed a lot of my suspicions and, more importantly, broadened my thoughts that disregarded other parts of the world that would behave differently (and perhaps, more maturely) in the social spectrum of things.

Evidently, it would seem that with the youth here, socialising has become a numbers game. At first, I thought that perhaps there were personal factors at play, but as the previous year progressed further and transformed into 2010, I still find myself at parties where there is a fifty-head guest list but only twenty people are physically present at the party. The basic first-in, first-served rule that I either thought once existed or I deluded myself into thinking existed and even, at present, still try to follow to the best of my ability has been lost. Now all you get are big ‘maybe’s which are just about as worthless as not RSVP’ing at all. What good is an RSVP deadline if there is a third option?

It works all the same in casual plans too. As the name suggests, the protocol is more casual as it’s a process of negotiation and consideration, however, in this case ‘maybe’ is never a valid answer because ‘maybe’ is Bullshit for ‘no – there are far better things that could come up between then and now’. Sure, in something as casual as just meeting up, plans can simply be cancelled, but as long of course, it’s done for the right reasons and hopefully some notice.

So, what would my plan of attack be? Firstly, I would change ‘Please Respond’ (the RSVP English translation) to ‘Please give me a straight answer’ in Sydney-alone, and then to wherever is having the same issue, however, I won’t bother translating it into French, nor would I abbreviate it. I would then write a blog (woops, already did that) and drill it into these kid’s heads that the word ‘maybe’ needs to be pulled from there vocabulary in order for organisation, guest-lists and the actual RSVP system to be at all effective. I will then make sure that it is clear that when you are holding an invite in hand that the RSVP section indicates two boxes: a ‘yes’, which you do your best to make an appearance or notify otherwise (even if it’s going to be a cameo appearance), and then under that, there will be a ‘no’ box, which leaves you open to screw around all you want without holding anybody else up; it’s quite simple. No more of this ‘maybe’ bullshit, especially when it comes to parties, I think I speak for anybody who has had to plan a party’s guest-list when I say that.

So, if one day you plan to live here and make some friends, understand that plans are too fluid to be carved into Sydney’s stone, be it your eighteenth, twenty-first or drinks at a bar. If you make plans, being left-hanging is a high-risk factor here, all at the hands of the youth who tonight alone will probably blow a hundred Australian dollars downing alcohol as opposed to spending three dollars on a calendar and remembering that they had something on tonight that they would’ve stuck to. A city where everybody can use a calendar and un-ulteriorly say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ when prompted, now that’s where I’d like to live…maybe.