Said Yes

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am changing my group of friends. Twenty years ago I was social with a group of
women but over time have started drifting away. Maybe ten years ago I was still
close with some of them but by now I see only two or three of them, and then at
the kind of party that’s happening next Saturday: a major decade event (60 th
birthday). I was invited as part of the network and said Yes because I couldn’t
think of a way to say No. It’s not that I have no other specific plans, but these
people are so out of touch with who I am (becoming more and more of a
practicing Jew), what I’ve become and what I care about, that the idea of an
evening of banality, or having to give my current life history over and over, is
overwhelming and a little depressing. This is a small town. If I call and cancel at
the last minute the only recourse is to stay in with the lights out or go far away.
Said Yes

Dear Said Yes:
One of the rules when you are asked to do something you are pretty sure you
don’t want to do is to handle it up front. If you are dead sure you don’t want to do,
just say No. If you are only 90% sure, temporize and say If my plans change,
when is the latest I can get back to you? Next best option is to sound enthusiastic
when you say Yes. That makes it seem like you really want to go. It also allows
you to bail at the last minute for reasons like I’m coming down with what’s going
around (better in winter than summer). If you use a reason other than health
you’ll need to explain yourself and then the cascade of explanations builds up,
assuming of course the invitation was sincere. If it was perceived as obligatory
one either end, no one may care.

If you do bail, send a nice note to the birthday gal, with a card and best wishes.
Avoid any implication that you two should connect one on one, unless you
actually want to get together. My advice, unless you really have something you
prefer to do, is to bite the bullet, go, prepare casual answers, and ask lots of
questions about other people. Next best, the ostensible flu. P.S. Get smarter next