You last-minute dropouts are causing a flakiness epidemic

It seems the current social trend is to rack-up a number of options for one’s Saturday night and then decide, last minute, which is the most appealing

Share
Related Topics

Every year I organise a birthday party and every year I promise myself never to do it again. Inviting people to any kind of social gathering is basically like lining up all of your friends and acquaintances and asking each of them to slap you in the face.

I just celebrated my 23rd birthday (shut up) and it was, as ever, an infuriatingly offensive business. I must have invited some 25 carefully-chosen people who were important to me and who – I hoped – would enjoy spending a fun night celebrating the fact that I’m not dead. Of those, a paltry seven managed to haul themselves to the Siberian netherworld of North London for a meal. A further three appeared by midnight at the small nightclub I’d booked for Jagermeisters and dancing to Euro-club dance-pop remixes of Who Run the World? (The answer being girls). So I just about managed to scrape into double-figures.  I would be okay with this, had my circle of friends been caught in some kind of freak tornado just north of Watford or if the country were gripped by a return of the bubonic plague. But the slew of excuses that infected my phone like a rash of mucosal herpetic pustules were increasingly pathetic, transparently-disingenuous and depressingly predictable.

“Hey babes. So sorry but I’m brassic because I forgot that I had to buy some carrots last Thursday. Have a great night though, yeah?”

“Hi chickpea. Have a great birthday! I forgot that I double-booked with something else somewhere at some point conveniently just before you invited me to your birthday! Have a great night though, yeah?”

“Hey Mr! OMG I just got a call from my mum who was dead last week. She’s lending me her lampshade so I have to go to Portsmouth and pick up my spare parrot next month which means I haven’t got any shoes. Have a great night though, yeah?”

I did take considerable trouble this year to avert the usual rash of last-minute cancellations by pre-empting them with a passive-aggressive message on Facebook but this only had a steroidal effect on the excuses. Either that or people were too scared to send any kind of excuse at all and simply pretended that they were temporarily dead. It’s telling that those who attended came from Manchester, Lincoln, Birmingham and Milton Keynes, while those who failed to show up were all from within five miles of the venue.

Is it possible that I’m just a very unpopular person? Or am I just a bit boring? It seems the current social trend is to rack-up a number of options for one’s Saturday night and then decide, last minute, which is the most appealing. I suppose that makes some logistical sense but personally I take a more analogue and considerate approach. If I say I’m going to an event, I put it in my diary and stick to it. Isn’t that polite? If I don’t fancy going to the event, then I immediately say I can’t make it. At least that way the person knows how many seats to book in the restaurant and they don’t have to put up with any deflating 11 hour cancellations.

I suppose people have always dropped out of birthdays and weddings. Stone-age man probably put up with the same nonsense. “Hi Crog, sorry I didn’t make your cave-warming last week. My leg was crushed by a mammoth and I lost my flint.” But people are so busy these days and mobile phones have made it so easy to commit hit-and-run U-turns that it’s fast becoming some kind of flakiness epidemic. A friend of mine purposefully invites three times the number of people he wants to show up, knowing that the majority will peel away from him like social psoriasis.

During my birthday dinner, I stood up like a town crier and, brandishing a scroll of shame, spat out the names of those who had cancelled on me, detailing their excuses with venomous relish. I must have cut a bitter and pathetic figure, lit up in the flickering candle light like a Shakespearean gargoyle in Dolce and Gabbana trousers. It was, admittedly, an uncomfortable speech for those in attendance, with most of my guests feigning a new-found fascination with their cutlery. But a point had to be made and somehow, I needed to reclaim my dignity.

Please, can people remember to take care when saying an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to any future invites. These days, when I hear that, I follow up with a very stern and somewhat threatening: “Are you coming though? Are you really?” My mouth is set straight and my eyes are cold and manic. If you’re not sure you fancy it, or you’re not sure you can make it then just say that. It might be easier at the time to pretend you wouldn’t miss my birthday for the world but in the long run, you’re only going to hurt my feelings and ruin what’s supposed to be a lovely day.

Next year, I might avoid organising anything at all. Either that or I’ll introduce some kind of written contract and non-refundable deposit. For now, I’ll just torture people with their own excuses. I shall delight in asking to see the furniture they had to collect and asking after their non-existent relative with the tropical illness. The look of panic in their eyes as they desperately try to recall their manufactured alibis will be a tonic for my horribly-mangled ego.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness