Let’s Get Drinks

The social to-do list may be our generation’s greatest source of stress.

01.13.15
post-it-social-to-do-list

At the time of this post’s publication at least five separate friends have emailed me an article from The New Yorker titled, “Let’s Get Drinks.”

An excerpt:

“B: I am total garbage at scheduling and forgot we were supposed to meet up tonight. Could you do Mon? SO SORRY. I feel terrible.

A: OMG, do not feel terrible. You are not as bad as I am. If you’re garbage, then I am, like, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, because Monday doesn’t work. What about tomorrow?

B: I am worse than the global food crisis. Tomorrow’s no good. This is embarrassing, but I signed up for a yoga workshop. (I know, eye roll.) Anyway, hopefully I’ll get my shit together and stop being the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami by next week. Xo.”

So, haha, because been there, done that and things are funniest when they’re true.

I just searched, “Don’t hate me,” and “I’m the worst” in my archived inbox, a return which proved I’ve said both phrases at least 15 times in the past three months re: plans to which I’ve either run embarrassingly late to or cancelled entirely. Similar sentiments were echoed by my fellow plan-canceling friends, all of us at fault for hyperbolic one-upping and underlining our please forgive me’s with the sign off, “XO.”

A few “drinks” with my fellow XO-ers have recently — victoriously! — been nailed down. Most impressive is one that includes six people and will occur this Thursday evening…which I probably just jinxed. All of the plans are with people that I would genuinely like to see. Friends rule. Drinks are fun. And everyone’s gotta eat. But in the age of multi-tasking, and multi-dating and multi-careering, our social to-do list has suddenly become a greater burden than our jobs. The scale of work-life balance has been tipped because we have too many plans to get tipsy.

That’s just echoing what the writer was illustrating, though. What I find most interesting is not the concept that we overbook (because no shit). What’s interesting is that we feel guilt when we bail.

Yes, it’s considered rude to drop the axe on plans last minute, and it inconveniences others when you need to change a date or switch a time. But isn’t it technically worse if we attend a dinner tired, unable to participate in the conversation because we’re stressed, or spend the whole evening preoccupied because we’re on deadline? I’m beginning to think yes — and it’s become my 2015 goal to come up with strategies and solutions:

1) Say yes to less. (Critics call this one TLC’s “most boring show!”)

2) Shorten the dates themselves. Not everything needs to be a meal, or involve alcohol. Suggesting tea is hydrating, seasonally appropriate and offers enough time to catch up or talk business without it feeling like a sidewalk drive-by.

3) Though this one goes against everything George Costanza stood for: blend your worlds. It’s good for networking, new friendships, and leaves enough nights free each week to wall-stare all by your happy lonesome.

Comedian John Mulaney once said that, “in terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.” Can we just all agree that this is true? That our friendships have the capacity to withstand social dry spells in the name of alone time? Or is this actually a terrible idea? Maybe I was right. Maybe I’m just the worst.

Need more advice? Ask a Guy! If this post made you thirsty, check out our Summer Wine Guide here. We also have plenty of snacks for you in the fridge

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  • I am the worst! I have to learn to say yes less for sure.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • I very rarely cancel, and am probably the least flaky about plans out of all my friends, but that is because I always have a great excuse to not fully commit to anything right away. “I might be baby sitting, I’ll let you know!” Which isn’t a lie, because I pretty much always MIGHT be baby sitting.

  • Except for the unusual occasion when something actually comes up (work, sickness, etc.) I rarely cancel on plans I actually wanted to say yes to in the first place. It’s the plans that I didn’t want to make and should have said no to in the first place that I usually bail on. I find bailing pretty rude, so I’m trying to be better about saying no in the first place if I don’t want to do something. Ahh the struggle!

    • Aydan

      Because I’m like this I end up double booking often, which results in me catching early drinks/dinner with one group and getting late dinner/drinks with the second!!

  • AlexaJuno

    I’m the worst of the worst. Last time I canceled plans on a friend he never spoke to me again. Swear to God.

    • rhzszm

      Smart man.

      You are, of course, too important to ask him out and expose your sensitive nature to the risk of being cancelled upon by him, right?

      • AlexaJuno

        Well, he’s gay, but thanks for the assumption, troll. You can go shave your back now.

        • rhzszm

          oh, one of those. nothing lost, then.

          is he really one those men who sleep with men types or just gay to you?

          • AlexaJuno

            Nope, actually gay. He even does musical theater as a job.

            And, “one of those.”– Classy. Now please take this mess back to Return of Kings or whatever bitter bro site you came from.

          • rhzszm

            Geez, lady, lighten up. What was I supposed to say? Don’t ask, don’t tell.

            I’m outta here. You are man repellers.

          • AlexaJuno

            Don’t start none, won’t be none.

          • rhzszm

            Enjoy your cats!

          • You have 15893 upvotes and 3380 comments. Sounds like you could use a couple of cats to preoccupy your time with something else

          • Am I the only one who heard this in Kandi Burruss’s voice? #RHOA

  • KT41

    I thought this was just a California thing–which we call flaking out, and happens regularly. I didn’t realize it’s common in New York, too.

  • rhzszm

    You insecure, energyless women are all going to be single forever and crying for welfare from the government because you can’t support yourselves.

    One day, you’ll die in your rocking chair and your cats will eat you so they don’t starve to death.

    • Leandra Medine

      But half of us are married!

      • rhzszm

        Hi Leandra!

        That is, statistically, impossible in the general U.S. population!

    • Lulu

      Poppycock!

    • Chelsea Murphy

      Hahahah WOW. Gonna try and put your comment in context here and say that you’re being “the worst” to show that none of us is “the worst” for bailing on brunch? I think I nailed it!

    • AlexaJuno

      Well, that escalated quickly. Fine, I’ll go to brunch. Jeez.

    • parkzark

      My cat is too picky to eat human meat.

      • rhzszm

        Your cat might be too fat.

      • VanillaDisgustard

        Tasty!

  • Jessica Peterson

    My friends and I…the worst. We get so excited to see each other (OMG YES! I AM FREE FREE FREE ON SATURDAY! CAN’T WAIT TO CATCH UP WITH YOU GIRLIES!) that we completely space on every other commitment we’ve made. (ugh. forgot both kids have ymca basketball on saturday. have fun without me.) We’re disgusting.

  • andrea raymer

    I never cancel plans because I am too nervous to back out. I am usually late for things, but I never cancel. I don’t get invited to things enough to be able to say no.

    • People who have a habit of summing up their own good qualities are the actual WORST.

  • i love that John Mulaney quote. He’s hilarious. I have to say, I’ve been on the other end of a XO-er several times in a row and it comes off as rude more than anything when it happens more than twice. To me, it is saying, “I just don’t have time for you and you aren’t a priority.” But I totally understand the periodic canceling.

    allienotsally.blogspot.com

  • parkzark

    Saying yes to less has done wonders for me! If I limit/allow myself to partake in a couple of balls to the walls outings per month (I get stressed ok) then I’m a lot less likely to cancel and and stay on track with life stuff.

  • Chelsea Murphy

    I’m bummed i’ve been saying “ugh, i’m the worst!” when “ugh, I’m mercury poisoning hooking up with the Crusades in the bathroom at trans fat’s wedding to voter suppression” is so much more eloquent… Go, NYer for inspiring us to bail with flair.

  • Canceling plans is a bad habit of mine, and given the amount of friends who have passed that New Yorker piece on to me, they’ve probably had enough, too. I’ll say yes to an obligation so that I can pass on a “let’s get drinks” plan. Terrible.

    I do think, however, that the feeling my friends get whenever I drop out of a plan is the same feeling I get whenever someone I’m texting doesn’t text back within 24 hours. It’s terrible and excruciating, and I’ll make this cycle stop.

  • I have the opposite problem – my initial reaction to an invite is to say no. (Happy hour? But I wanted to go home and read. House party? ugh.)

    I’m a big introvert, but when I commit to plans, I COMMIT. People say yes to too many things and show up late and tired. I try to keep in mind that I am taking up somebody else’s time and they do not want to listen to me complain about my job and horrible train ride there.

    http://onsecondavenue.com

  • Allie Fasanella

    Totally agree that canceling plans is better than showing up and being shitty company. I hate when someone hangs out with me when they’re not in the right mind-space. I’d much rather you cancel then having to sit and be with someone that doesn’t wanna be with me.

  • Allie Fasanella

    Ya know what something my one friend and I do if we want to be together but we have stuff to do? We just sit and do our work together. Sometimes you don’t need to talk so much, you just want to enjoy the essence of their being. I know, i’m an oddball.

    • That reminds me, one of my friends from college was in a long distance relationship and she and her boyfriend would skype while doing homework. Not even really talking, but cameras were on.

      • Allie Fasanella

        i dig that

        • I’ll add that they’re still together almost 4 years after college

  • grace b

    Wow that John Mulaney quote is SO true. I’m currently debating canceling plans to see a movie tonight with a friend. Anything that involves putting on pants and then driving in traffic on a Tuesday night…HARSH. I also have a friend who has cancelled on me no less than 2230492304267 times. Each time she is seriously “the worst”. Awesome person, great friend, but I couldn’t handle the canceling anymore.

    I used to beat myself up for last minute canceling but then I remembered that my day does not get better OR worse if I do. Seriously. Dry spells in friendship are OKAY. That is a tough one to remember.

    And this column was hilarious.

  • this is one thing I hated it about moving to LA, everyone is a big flake, but now I am becoming a true Angelino and doing the same, ugh.

    http://www.modeography.com/

  • Hallie

    haha but actually you’re the worst…

    • Amelia Diamond

      Don’t make me write your last name up in here HALLIE.

  • same39

    I LOVE doing my own wall staring and normally DREAD when I’m headed to whatever I said ‘yes’ to. That said, after it’s all done, I’m usually pretty happy I actually made it instead of canceling. Maybe it’s because it makes for a guilt-free me. Plus it’s like checking an item off the to-do list. Done!

  • Catherine Bohner

    For the record, while the MR audience is largely ladies and the voice of the New Yorker piece seems like a gal to me, my best male pal is the worst overbooker/canceller. Even when I was working in North Dakota (pretty much the antithesis of NYC/LA), my construction-working guy friends cancelled get-togethers (usually for showers). So emphasis on our generation, although I wonder if elderly socialites do this too. “Sorry Maude, I forgot my bridge club meets on Thursdays. Can we meet on Monday? XO, Albert”

    • Amelia Diamond

      this just made me go HAH! out loud

  • Lyric

    My only standing plans is my once weekly Dungeons and Dragons group with my neighbors. I’m the dungeon master though, so if I cancel, no one can play. I get invited to do a lot of stuff on the fly which I usually don’t go to. I should be more social.

    • Amelia Diamond

      YOU HOLD THE POWER

  • Catherine Bohner

    For those with chronic XOer friends, I recommend inviting yourself over to their place for impromptu hangouts (especially if you know they XO because of finances, fear of a beer/cocktail gut and/or they just love staring at their walls). How to: “Hey I’ll be in your neighborhood later, what are you up to?” They reply, maybe, “Nothing,” “Cleaning,” “Watching TV lol.” You ask, “Want company?” This is pretty much the only way I see half of my friends.

    • VanillaDisgustard

      My friends are so like fake, and plastic…

  • I’ll say yes to everything, and know that someone will bail and I’ll be left with one thing. This plan works about 80% of the time, so I don’t know who’s worse, me or my friends?
    The other 20% when people don’t bail or change, I will try and squeeze everything in the one day/night. I believe these nights are my punishment from the universe for thinking I can get away with never looking like the one who changes the plans.

  • pterridactyl

    Out of my friendship groups I am the worst for cancelling. Never due to double booking or being a social butterfly but mainly because I get home from work forgetting vie made plans for later on, the bra comes off and y’know, once the bra is off then all plans are scrapped.

  • Jamie Leland

    In my experience, the worst culprits are those who overcommit themselves. They think they can either pull off both or just don’t realize that, logistically, their plans won’t work out until they’re actually trying to execute them. I have a friend like this and she and her best friend made a pact that they will not get upset for each other for bailing for any reason.

    I’m not a frequent bailer on plans, but I am pretty forgetful, so I sometimes agree to something when I’ve already committed to something else, but in general, my friends are more terrible about making tentative plans and collectively forgetting about them altogether.

    There are, on the flip side, those who never fully commit to anything because they want to be able to do something else if a better option comes up. I think these people are the worst.

  • Caroline

    “in terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.”
    That is so true.

  • Lou

    This speaks to a much larger and more interesting (to me) phenomenon. I call it the “so amazing” era in which girls/young women are constantly trying to match each other’s enthusiasm and even top it so much so that we end up spouting untrue enthusiasms to each other constantly and even canceling plans ends up being an exercise in exhaustion. When a girlfriend of mine simply texts “Hey, can’t make drinks tonight. Need a night in. Let’s do next week. Love you” and leaves it at that, she suddenly becomes my hero. It’s authentic and simple. and wouldn’t we all have so much more time if we didn’t have to constantly think about how to communicate in such a ridiculous way?

  • AGREED!!!! My social anxiety is through the roof!

    http://tostylewithlove.com/

    Daphne

  • A little party never killed anyone – said by everyone when they take their first drink.

    jeansandmacaroons.blogspot.com

  • ThisPersonSleeps

    That NYer story was sadly spot-on.

  • ThisPersonSleeps

    Oh, and don’t even get me started on people saying “I’m THE WORST” like it’s a badge of honor. Get over yourselves!

  • Melissa Nguyen

    I just cancelled plans with a friend minutes before reading this, I’m almost considering texting her back because if I don’t force myself out of bed to go to lunch with friends, who in the world would I share my plate of crack with (John Mulaney has never spoken truer words)

  • Meg Joong

    i always make plans and then instantly do a satanic ritual hoping that the other person will forget.

    they oftentimes do. if they don’t i haul ass to be 45 minutes late.

    this introspection has made me realize why i have almost no friends. wow you offer so much.

  • Diana

    This is the epitome of me – not that I ever cancel – but I always overbook.
    I just cancelled on plans tonight that were made one month in advance and it feels way, way too good. Really like heroin 🙂

  • Georgia

    Our lives are so busy and fast and we often forget about the most important things like family and friends.

    Moving out cleaners Paddington

  • Kara

    I think this is going to end up being an unpopular opinion, but…..

    Canceling/flaking at the last minute is a shitty thing to do 95% of the time. It is one thing if you actually have car trouble, a pipe burst in your house, you need to take a child/pet to the doctor/vet for an emergency. All of these other “explanations” are simply excuses for being selfish or lazy.

    You will not forget or doublebook if you write your appointments down in a planner or calendar (and this is a useful adult life skill). This will also help you know in advance if you’re going to be be too tired from a full day to meet someone–so you can give them advance notice.

    And if you’re on your way to meet someone and you “suddenly” become to tired to go, get a coffee and learn your lesson about how much you can fit into a day.

    This person may also be flaky in which case I think you have a little more wiggle room here, but in many cases they have taken time out of their busy schedule, moved things around, maybe gotten up a little early to accomplish some things, so that they can see you. And blowing someone off at the last minute messes up their day.

    Plus, bottom line, it is a shitty thing to do and plain RUDE. You’re being an a–hole, there I said it. Why can’t this me generation learn to commit to anything? If you have a ton of friends who you don’t really want to see, don’t make plans with them. Trip your circle to people you actually want to see and spend quality time with them. Trust me, you’ll be happier.

    • Kara

      Trim* not trip

  • britt stone

    the freedom to say no increases with age, I think. Then you are not as prone to spread yourself so thin.

  • Man, this is embarrassing, but I am THE flakiest person in my social circles. In fact, recently I had to bail on a dinner because I realized that I had to go to a wedding.

    A PRO TIP I’d like to impart: if you have more than one calendar–on your phone, on your desk, a planner you tote–maybe just stick to one or input your events across all your calendars.

  • Completely agree with blending your worlds! Helps immensely with both career and personal life and makes everything simpler.

    whereisbchk.com X

  • keta

    The worst thing for me is that i LOVE saying yes. Usually when i’m lying rested in my bed i’m on a great mood and want to go everywhere , want to see everyone, i mark i’m going for every Facebook event and get really excited about it and i am truly waiting for the day it will come , but then when shit of life strikes and all i want is to sleep or scroll the net all my prayers goes to magical plan cancelling land.