Sunday, March 27, 2011

Courtesy, Good Manners, and Other Endangered Animals

"... Alice said with some severity: "it's very rude.""

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
by Lewis Caroll

Pay attention because this is going to be part French lesson and part study in ettiquette. Consider the RSVP: four letters which stands for "répondez s'il vous plaît" or "response, please" en Anglais. That is common enough knowledge and easily google-able. What most people don't realise is that it also stands for "fuck you, whoreson, for not responding after I said PLEASE."

It isn't brain surgery, rocket science or quantum fucking physics. When you see that quartet of consonants on any invitation courteously extended to you, it is customary - nay, mandatory - to return due courtesy. Tell that person, who had graciously and thoughtfully asked for the pleasure of your company, whether you are (a) coming or (b) not. In the days of auld lang syne, one is expected to write back in pigment on a bit of dead tree; remember that? Sounds loik a fecking 'ardship, innit? But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can now reply in seconds via electric mail, needing only the paltry sacrifice of having to push a few buttons. In the case of invitations sent through Facebook, good manners is not three, not two, but just one click away! There are three buttons covering the entire spectrum of possible answers: attending, not attending and maybe attending. Pick the one most agreeable to you. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Now, against my better judgement, I organised an unofficial meet-up for members of MAFA (Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers & Agnostics) last week. The response was far better than I expected - about a dozen heads promised that they would come. Yes, that's what a response to an RSVP is; nothing less than a binding social contract on the honour and good name of your family. Yours truly, however, is an atheist and having no faith in mythical beings like gods, fairies and intelligent Facebook users, decided to enquire after the individuals who confirmed their attendance. And boy it was lucky I did because one by one, they snaked out of the attendees' roster like raging boners from the robes of Catholic priests at the sight of little boys.

Lesson: do NOT respond to an RSVP saying yes if you aren't ready to commit to it. If you proceed to make other plans after saying you'll come, you are an oath-breaker and a pocky anus.

Then, there are a few I am certain are functionally retarded. One in particular stood out like a scorching beacon of stupid that will stand through the ages as an inspiration to halfwits everywhere,

Damn Stupid Atheist
Every Japanese smilie you use makes you appear twice as stupid to others. Fact.

Can you even begin to imagine the thought process which went through her mind when she did what she did? It must have went something like: "I'm not attending - sooo I'm going to say I am. That's what I usually do! Wheeeee! Furthermore, I like bunnies and rainbows! And my father brutally raped me in my mouth when I was six!" That thought sincerely inhabited her psyche and she saw absolutely no problem acting on it. No neuronal short circuits. No mental fail-safes. It's a bloody miracle she's even able to dress herself in the morning without biting her tongue off and choking on it.

You have no idea how close I was to losing it. It took me all of my resolve to stop our conversation right where it was and back away slowly from my keyboard. I thought I was going to stroke.

After vetting out the brain-damaged would-be comers, I ended up with two blokes who were absolutely positive they would materialise, rain or shine, so I decided to proceed as planned. On Sunday, I arrived at the designated venue at noon precisely because punctuality is yet another common courtesy I extend to anyone and everyone - and this time, I crossed a fucking sea doing it. I'm the sort of man who wouldn't even make my enemies wait if I can help it.

But I waited alright. Ho yes, did I ever. I waited for two whole hours nursing a warm glass of Coke and a hopeful song in my heart. I even went as far as to inscribe a grubby receipt I had in my wallet with the initials of MAFA and displayed it prominently so no one needs to play Spot-the-Atheist. The Long-Suffering Girlfriend™ waited alongside me even though she wanted no part in my godless doings, but that's why I love her. At 2:00 PM, it was plain to me that no one was going to turn up so I bought a couple of books and drove back to Butterworth - just so the entire trip wouldn't be a complete loss. If you're interested, they are Richard Wiseman's 59 Seconds and Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear - the long-awaited monster-sized sequel to his amazing The Name of the Wind.

At about 4:00 PM, one of the two anticipated members did surface eventually. Finding that our agreed venue was conspicuously devoid of secularists, Ie Tzan (for he was named thus) rang me up and, we ended up arranging an impromptu meeting on the mainland in Raja Uda. The following photograph, taken using Ie Tzan's cellphone, is the only evidence that it happened,

Penang MAFA Meet
From left: the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™, Ie Tzan, Amanda, Adrian and I.

The 1st Northern Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers & Agnostics Meet-Up consisted of two atheists, a pair of Baptists and a lapsed Presbyterian. All things considered, I declare it a roaring success.

P.S. On the next day, I went on a hastily planned island vacation to Langkawi with the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™ plus three colleagues who graduated with me from med school. We had the 2nd Northern Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers & Agnostics Meet-Up there over duty-free booze. Only one Baptist this time and four atheists - and two of them are middle-aged Swedish women.

P.P.S. And the night after that, we followed that up with a three atheist meet-up (this time with a freethinking Mongolian delegate). The world's getting more godless everyday, people. Rejoice!

Believes in good manners,
k0k s3n w4i


Ec5618 said...

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

I'm sorry you had such a frustrating experience.

Third generic platitude.

nicoletta said...

Wow, I dislike RSVP-ing a lot, simply because my answers are usually no. But courtesy is courtesy, and I haven't missed replying to a single invite, although I ignore Facebook-generated invites and simply text the person directly instead. I have been tardy before, though, and have turned up late on more than one occasion. That being said, the last group meetup I had was with some old college friends a couple of years ago. You learn that being ten minutes early doesn't pay when everyone plans to be an hour late.

Rewarp said...

Right. I think reading your post raised my core body temperature by a few degrees (Celsius) in a bad way.

I am already working on a proper website for Malaysian Atheists who are more willing to put in the effort for progressive change rather than sit back and talk-and-talk while doing nothing in the end.

Facebook's ease really makes being an inconsiderate-apathetic-hipster-douchebag-retard that much easier.

Zzzyun said...

wow.. i cant believe someone could even say "errr..i click all the invites as yes... i usually do that"

what is wrong with him/her??!!

fev said...

i like your insults. very good. :D
EEEEP!!! PATRICK ROTHFUSS' BOOK IS OUT?!?!!? I AM GOING TO BUY IT TODAY. (i gave up checking and being disappointed so i thought i'd just get reminded by you here instead.)

Liz ^^, said...

OMG, I'd be super pissed if I were you. Who RSVPs "Yes" if you have NO intention of attending? That's just rude. You're making the person who is hosting event put in effort that is most definitely wasted.

And I think it was pretty generous of you to still meet up with a person who was TWO HOURS late for a meet-up. If I were you, I'm not sure if I'd even pick up his call @.@

k0k s3n w4i said...

Ec5618: deja vu. i felt as if i read this comment before.

nicoletta: what is it with people and turning up late? i get very internally worked up every time i'm running late myself, and even when i know everybody else will not be on time, i insist on being punctual anyway. it's part of my neurosis, i guess. i stopped carpooling because it vexes me so much waiting for my poolers every morning.

Rewarp: a new website? what form will it take? a collective blog or a front? whatever it is, i'm in.

Zzzyun: einstein said, "only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and i'm not sure about the former."

beve: 2011 is an awesome year for fantasy junkies. george r. r. martin, patrick rothfuss and scott lynch are all publishing their latest books. i also didn't expect the wise man's fear to be out now. i just happen to saw it on a shelf when i was browsing.

Liz ^^,: i was super-pissed, but i can't say i didn't expect such idiocy from some of the members. anyhow, the guy who did turn up came all the way over to butterworth to meet and i, having forgiven tardiness all my life, wasn't particularly inclined to stay mad. also, i found a couple of books i've been looking for - so i was in a relatively good mood.

fev said...

yeah, the book came out a couple of weeks ago i was told. i think i might get the hardback version. :(

Rewarp said...

I dropped you an email regarding the project.