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Invite Only

“Will I see ya at Lucy and Ricky’s on Saturday?”

This was the closing line in an email my friend Ethel sent me recently (all names and events have been changed throughout this post).

Ah. So, the Ricardo’s were having their holiday party this year, after all.  We just weren’t invited. It stung. For maybe 20 seconds.Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 4.24.20 PM

“Looks like we’ve been cut!” I wrote back, surprised-slash-smiley emoji attached. “But, lest you feel bad for mentioning it,” I continued. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d be kicking and screaming about having to stay in the city if we had been invited. Moreover, seeing YOU would be the biggest reason we’d be psyched to go. And that is easily remedy-able!”

She liked that response. Still, she probably felt a little bad. Asking a friend if he or she is invited to something you’re invited to is about as risky as asking a woman who isn’t your sister or your spouse if she is pregnant. Best to let the news come out on its own.

I felt a smidge of FOMO from not being on the Ricardo’s guest list. It wasn’t exactly FOMO, though. Bertrand and I came up with a new acronym for it: BANBI: Bummed About Not Being Invited. But did we even have a right to be bummed? We hadn’t socialized at the Copacabana in ages, much less had the Richardos over to our place, city or country, in years. So they, like us, had updated their guest list. Life shifts, and so do the people you see more regularly, or less so. Still, just a very mild case of BANBI.

The Ricardo’s notwithstanding, I do have frequent BANBI issues. My friend Kerry (that is her real name) teases me about my paranoia of always assuming that she and our other friends are out at some fabulous dinner without me practically every night.

Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 3.09.55 PM

Instagram only inflames BANBI. I can’t count the number of times I’ve aggressively punched “FOMO!” (or, in my more passive-aggressive nature, “FOMO…”) into the comment line when friends post any event to which I was not included. I am not proud of this. Perhaps if I wrote “BANBI” instead of “FOMO,” the mystery of its meaning would at least blur my blatant immaturity.

Even more uncomfortable than experiencing BANBI is being the cause of it. Back in November, we found ourselves in Lucy and Ricky’s position, but we were called on it. Liz and Dick had us over for dinner, and as we walked up their driveway, Sid and Nancy were pulling in. “Yay!” I exclaimed. We hadn’t seen them since Sid’s gig at CBGB’s last year.

Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 1.42.15 PMDuring dinner, Nancy was regaling us with their real estate hunt. “We were really interested in Tom’s house down the street from you,” she said. Tom’s house is gorgeous.

“But it’s so visible!” she continued.  “And if you have people over, everyone can see their cars from the street. There’s no place to park in the back, or whatever. It could be weird if you guys drove by and saw all these cars, but we hadn’t invited you. And the same would be weird for you guys, if you had people over, but didn’t invite us.”

Nancy had an interesting point. Our house is pretty much an open book, car-wise.

Then she continued. “Like, when you had some big dinner party last Summer, Patti emailed me that she’d see us there, but we weren’t invited.”
Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 3.40.45 PM

My eyes widened, my face scrunched and I put down my fork. “No!” she exclaimed, touching my arm for emphasis. “It’s ok! We don’t expect you to invite us over! Though it has been a while. But that’s fine!”

 

It wasn’t fine. It was a weird moment, and I felt guilty and uncomfortable, but I admired her for bringing it up. As I felt these awkward feelings, I distinctly remember thinking, Absorb this. You deserve to feel uncomfortable. Grow up and don’t get defensive. 

I emailed Nancy a few days later with a mea culpa and a dinner invite. Any excuse would have sounded defensive and immature. We had neglected them, and we were sorry.

Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 3.23.38 PMI gave BANBI to too many friends when we got married. I can think of three couples who should have been there, but were cut from the list. Conversely, I can think of six people who were only invited because either they kept asking about our wedding plans (guilt invite) or other reasons I’m too embarrassed or ashamed to admit. It’s been nearly ten years, but, to date, I have apologized to only one wife of the three couples. I had an opportunity to apologize to another one just last week, but I chickened out. Chalk it up to FOBYA (Fear Of Being Yelled At)

A lot of it boils down to math: Unless we all live in warehouses and host only raves, there will always be dinners that we won’t be invited to and dinners that we won’t invite others to. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep guest lists, so you can look back and see that Brad and Angie have been to your last six soirees, while George and Amal haven’t been over since they returned from Venice. Of course, we all have our perma-guests: those who are always invited, because they’re terrific inclusions for so many reasons. They make you laugh or calm you down, they’re always happy to sous chef, or, better yet, can fix a nearly ruined dish, and they generally make the evening better. Ernie and Bert? Take a bow.

But back to Lucy and Ricky.  On the day of their shindig, Lucy posted a shot on Instagram of the dish they always serve at this party. “Yum!” I gleefully (passive-aggressively) commented.

Screen shot 2016-01-30 at 3.35.01 PM

She probably didn’t even flinch. At least she didn’t respond with “Thanks!” or “Right??”

Good thing. I hate experiencing FAMP (Frustration At Misinterpreted Point).

Besides, we have our own house specialty. Bertrand’s Campari cocktail: Combine one-third Pellegrino with one-third Campari and one-third freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Add a generous amount of ice and stir. No need to wait for Summer.

 

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Jane was executive beauty director at W Magazine for 16 years. When she is not writing beauty articles, she's likely either hiking with her husband and dog, Remy, or in her kitchen, frauding (new verb) her way around a fancy recipe, a home decoration or a highbrow dinner party conversation of which she knows nothing about. In other words, she nods a lot and googles a lot later.

2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this!! It’s so funny when you look back on incidents like these, right? Life does take over and while you may feel bad about not getting an invite, you just have to suck it up and move on.

    I was one of the first among my group friends to have kids- and when they’d take single-girl trips and not invite me I did feel left out, to the point where I’d NOT comment on an Instagram post to make a point. But I realised- it may not be fun for everyone with toddlers and infants around, and if there are no caregivers to leave the kids behind with, whaddya do?

    Like

  2. Susan says

    Jane, we entertain all.the.time and, like you, are an open book parking-wise. People get left out all over the place, but no one has ever called me on it (probably just snarking behind my back). I’m fascinated that people bring it up. One can’t entertain every one every time.
    Now I’m wondering who we left out of our epic Hearts games all those years ago ….

    Like

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