Sunday, 15 April 2012

Manners, they matter

Last Monday I mentioned the wedding invitation I’d received out of the blue then. My first reaction was to attend the event, but on second thoughts… I turned down the invitation, just like three-fourth of the invited with the appalling five-day advance notice.

I don’t know whether anyone recalls the commemorations of 90th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland, held in Teatr Wielki in Warsaw in November 2008. The celebration was staged by late president’s office and heads of other states received invitations two or three weeks before the event, so most eminent politicians whose calendars are carefully filled in many months’ advance, failed to show up. The absence of many figures was the price paid for ignorance of diplomatic protocol. But at that time bad organisation resulted only in a diplomatic slip-up, but some seventeen months later, the Polish (and Russian as well) bylejakość (what’s the English for this???) led up to a huge tragedy…

On second thoughts it occurred to me this I would have to bring forward handling lots of things I’d had planned for the current weekend. If I was to attend the wedding, I’d have to think about a small gift (or chip in with someone), iron a better shirt kept in the chest of drawers for special occasions, vacuum-clean my car inside and wash its bodywork (after being washed in early November 2011, it’s surprisingly clean)… And given the scarcity of time in the evenings on weekdays, this would have to be completed by early afternoon on Sunday. The outing began to seem impractical.

Having in mind the form (creating the event of facebook and putting all friends on the list of invited guests) and the jaw-dropping advance notice, I decided to take advice of a few friends (all not knowing the host of the wedding and thus not invited). They all in unison advised me to decline the invitation. Firstly due to the form, secondly on account of when it had been sent.

One of my friends as a matter of principle doesn’t attend weddings for which she receives invitations on facebook. She argues she feels like wypełniacz kościoła, literally ‘church filler-in’, or more deftly, ‘crowd-maker’. Others told me by inviting so people so late, my high-school friend had showed little respect for other people’s time. And I have to say my time is precious enough not to waste it with someone who doesn’t respect it.

No wonder so many of the potential guests refused to show up. Actually most people usually plan something for the weekend and if at the beginning of the week such information comes up, some are likely to be reluctant to drop everything. Maybe many noticed the same what I did – it’s no effort to mark all names on friend list (for my friend 378; who said one’s tribe can’t count more than 150 people?) and invite them. I’m not talking about the costs now. In these times virtually everyone turns thrifty and saves on whatever they can, so I don’t hold it against them that they hadn’t printed invitations and hadn’t sent them out to everyone in beautiful envelopes. It’s always nice to be handed such invitation and I even keep the ones I received, but being notified in a more modern way is not the reason to take umbrage. But that very invitation wasn’t personal at all. I’m not sure my friend realised she had invited me at all. It’s always to have a crowd in the church, it’s always nice to deceive oneself that you have a lot of friends (half of them would be hanging around and backbiting you, but good impression for aunties remains), but Good Lord, etiquette matters.

When speaking about financial aspect of weddings, it has to be underlined lavish weddings for 200 guests, costing tens of zlotys, an equivalent of price of a brand-new compact car, are becoming the thing of the past. This trend proves positive impact of the crisis (it can be seen negative by wedding-organisers whose firms may drop like flies). I attended three such weddings in 2007 and 2008 and remember them as a huge waste of money. Squandering fifty thousand zlotys for a one-night event to have some nice photos, film or memories for the rest of life (an upbeat assumption, as one of those three marriages broke up, for the other couple life’s not a bed of roses and only the third bygone newlyweds are living a happy life) still seems to me at least silly. Young people and their parents have finally realised that it’s better to spend the same money on a few square metres of own flat or in another wise way, for something durable, rather to throw it about within one night.

And actually what has put me off attending the wedding yesterday was how it would be perceived among my ex-classmates. This would have been a great opportunity to show off. Good clothes, good jobs, money, cars – no one would fail to stress how prosperous they are, or if in fact they aren’t, they would lean over backwards to pretend they are.

Next week I’m attending the wedding and actually not to keep my head down I’ll fit in to this hideous custom. Or should I defy it, leave the car at home, go by bus in my oldest, worn-out suit and tell my ex-classmates I earn peanuts?

A longer follow-up in two weeks’ time, when I plan to impudently violate one policy…

No comments: