By Nathaniel Missildine


* Accept with pleasure

* Decline with regret

* Accept with overblown joy

* Decline with studied indifference

* Accept but don’t plan on enjoying myself beyond the open bar

* Decline but will be standing outside on your lawn gazing in through back window for the duration of the evening’s festivities

* Accept though it’s really our turn to invite

* Decline to admit I don’t know what R.S.V.P. stands for

* Accept that, if I do, even this small amount of French will be pronounced incorrectly

* Accept that this is only the first phase of your lengthy apology for the previous party I somehow never got wind of

* Searching for a better word to describe how the flagrant social gaffes in your invitation make me feel

* Plan to be there with bells on

* Plan to be there wearing nothing but the bells

* Counting on the fact that you still have that killer bell connection and the things we’ll need to do the ringing

* Accept, but only for the reception

* Decline the group dance number, should one happen to erupt, unless the song incorporates my name specifically and the Brubeck is mostly from “Time Out”

* Accept that tonight is gonna be called over and over again a “good good night”

* Decline involvement in whatever is happening in the men’s room

* Thanks, but I’m already married

* Realize this isn’t a wedding, but still promised myself I wouldn’t cry

* Don’t understand why you didn’t first contact me through my blog before ambushing me with a man dressed in blue carrying a folded paper inside of a paper with my name on it

* In lieu of any other options, this response comes mailed via the reinstated Pony Express

* Haven’t figured out how to use my R.S.V.P.-generating app yet

* Couldn’t pay me enough to get within a fifty mile radius of this event

* Will get back to you with a decent story about previous engagements I think I probably made some time ago

* Not enough room on my social calendar right now for anything but my Polly Pocket stickers

* Will respond in a manner befitting the cut-off jeans with the pockets hanging below the threads that you saw me in the other day

* It really would have made much more sense had I not been invited

* I know you are too shy to ask, but yes I’m willing to bring my guitar

* Accept that your home theater setup will fall short when I immediately proceed to compare it to my own

* Decline despite your obvious talent but it just doesn’t suit our needs at this time, best of luck elsewhere

* Accept that I won’t be able to control myself, physically speaking, even mere minutes into the party

* Decline any interaction with your children unless you can certify for me that they are grass-fed

* Accept that the Feng shui of your great room won’t do any permanent prefrontal cortex damage

* Decline your deviled eggs in advance

* Accept with regret

* Decline with the kind of delight unique to our particular age

* Accept your advances as soon as the socially constipated guests have left and the evening sails away from its original, appropriate atmosphere

* Coming at the first light of the new dawn

* Accept like a hurricane

* Decline like a motherfucker

* Decline, only to accept seconds after it’s too late

* Don’t have the right socks

* Bringing illegal fireworks

* There regardless



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NATHANIEL MISSILDINE lives in Dijon, France with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of the 2012 travel memoir SAVE FOR FIREFLIES as well as a recently completed novel. Online writings, by turns comical and puzzling, are on display over at nathanielmissildine.com.

22 responses to “Répondez”

  1. Gloria says:

    Yes to the Bruebeck “Time Out” part. I love jazz, but I can be picky about what I want to hear. And if any of it is preceded by the modifier soft or smooth, then I’ll be no fan.

    What are all of these invitations you’re declining and accepting, Nathaniel? Do they really throw parties all the time in France? I thought that was a cliche. It sounds so glamorous. And fatiguing.

    Will respond in a manner befitting the cut-off jeans with the pockets hanging below the threads that you saw me in the other day ahahahahaha – yeah. I prefer these parties, too. 🙂

    This is fun, Nathaniel. It harkens back to the first piece of yours I read, which I’m too lazy to look up right now. But let it be known: your list posts are genius.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      They do throw parties all the time in France, and I come equipped with neither the correct invitation response nor the right host gift. But I’m fatigued by parties on any soil, even when I do inevitably show up unannounced.

      In case this isn’t nesting, thanks, Gloria, up at the top, for the kind comment.

  2. Agreeing with lady G, your list posts ARE genius. And legendary. I love the momentum they gather. I’m not sure which one I’m going to borrow for my next RSVP, the illegal firework line or the one about the pocket linings hanging below the cut-off denim. They’d both work for me.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      Thanks, Cynthia. Somehow I’m never able to pull off the pockets-hanging-out look. An unshaved legs issue, perhaps?

      Also, Lady G is a name for Gloria that I sure hope sticks.

  3. Joe Daly says:


    >>I know you are too shy to ask, but yes I’m willing to bring my guitar<<

    Phew… that was the topper.

    Bravo, monsieur.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      Thank you, Joe. I always hoped I could parlay my problems with etiquette into something phenomenal.

      If you bring the guitar, I’ll bring the stage pyrotechnics.

  4. jmblaine says:

    Let me deejay
    this soiree
    & I will
    totally break out
    some Johnny Hartman
    just for you

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      A little Johnny Hartman would be exactly what this party would need, as long as it leads eventually to some Timmy T and a noise violation.

  5. James D. Irwin says:

    accept with pleasure.

    It seems like the polite thing to do…

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      That’s classy and I would expect nothing less.

      Me, I’m always polite when I don’t need to be and oddly cranky/wielding illegal fireworks when asked to follow good form.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        I always try to be polite, although I’m awful at leaving parties when I actually attend.

        I quite often tell people I’m coming and then make an excuse on the day, or worse a few days later having not gone. But if I do show up I’m not leaving before 3am…

        • Nathaniel Missildine says:

          Not leaving before 3 AM, I like that as a policy. Most parties really only start to get good after 1, especially dinner parties where the first three hours are usually a wash.

  6. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    “Decline your deviled eggs in advance.” Yeah, you never know how old that mayo was.

    This post made me think of how the online world has shifted etiquette. Who could have imagined E-vites and the like, with a public showing of who’ll be there and who won’t. For someone like me, who dreads any event in which I won’t know another person (and will likely avoid it if I don’t), such a development has been a boon.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      I know what you mean. I think online invites in general have altered the way parties work, creating significantly less spontaneity. On one hand, like you, I appreciate knowing what I’m getting into, but then again it only encourages my overthinking of social gatherings.

  7. D.R. Haney says:

    I tend to neither accept nor decline these days, I get so many invitations. Or, really, I should say my butt gets a lot of invitations. There are a great many seats that desire to be occupied by my butt or any other, so long as they’re occupied. Seats are real sluts.

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      Yeah, but you’ve got to figure any seat would be pretty psyched to offer cushion to Duke for an evening.

      I find myself neither accepting or declining all over the place too, for events and “friendship” invitations alike. I don’t want to be that easy nor that difficult, hence a long list of furiously ambivalent alternatives.

  8. Ah crap, you’ve just reminded me about an invitation I forgot to answer for a party tomorrow. A friend’s baby’s party… Just the sort of place I’d rather not be.

    Well, I’ll trawl back through the list and find something suitable for a last minute, “I’m sorry, but…”

    • Nathaniel Missildine says:

      Hope you managed with something, not having the right socks works pretty well as an excuse, because it makes you look just crazy enough that the hosts will be reminded why it’s best you didn’t show anyway. Otherwise, if you accepted, I hope the fireworks didn’t startle the baby.

      • I went with “rescued a baby kitten” because it was true and also fairly believable. “Meows too much so couldn’t bring it with me, and gets scared if I leave it alone.”

        • Nathaniel Missildine says:

          Yeah, that’s a good one. Though a reply like that is sweet enough to cause the whole party to come to your place, where everyone just stands around sighing all evening.

  9. Luke Kelly-Clyne says:


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