Do You Have Options for Declining An Invitation This Holiday Season?

72-og Here’s a very simple (yet timely) question for you, Dear Reader.

When you are invited to yet another gathering or festive night out and you’re not going to be attending, do you give a reason why or do you just politely refuse?

During “The Ghost  Host of Christmas Past,” I’ve felt obliged to elaborate and provide a good enough reason, (or an innocent made-up excuse!) to avoid hurting the host’s feelings. But recently people have told me this is unnecessary and it’s actually oversharing.

Below is my track record with this social grace ….

ME: I’m so sorry, but I’m already committed.

INVITER #1: Really? To do what?

ME: I’m committed to not saying more than that when I decline invitations.

INVITER #1: No really, what exactly are you doing instead??

Note To Self: Get less assertive friends.

ME: Thank you for thinking of me, but I have another engagement.

INVITER #2:  Again? OMG! Hopefully you make it down the aisle this time! Feel free to bring your new fiancé.

Note To Self: Next time use more specific language, while still not stating exactly what you’re doing since it’s none of their business.

ME: I’d love to, but I’m having an affair of my own that same evening.

INVITER #3: No wonder your engagements never last, you cheatin’, lyin’ slut, you!

Note to Self: Go back to my little white lies.

ME: Darn, I’d really like to come to your annual potluck tree-trimming party, but I’m allergic to pine.

INVITER #4: It’s artificial this year. Vinnie always pees on all our real trees.

ME: Well I’m allergic to dogs.

INVITER #4: Vinnie is our 15-year-old son.

ME: Seriously! Was he born in a barn??

INVITER #4: Yes. I went into labor cleaning the horse stall and gave birth on a bale of hay. . .

ME: Ahhhh! Which I’m very allergic to?

INVITER #4: In our previous house.

ME: Guess I’ll be bringing peanut butter cookies to your potluck tree-trimming party.

INVITER #4: I have a life-threatening nut allergy. You’ll bring 2 dozen filet mignon steaks instead.

Note to Self: Google who said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Hmph. Guess honesty IS always the best policy.

ME: To tell you the truth, I just really don’t want to come.

INVITER #5: Well frankly, I really didn’t want to invite you but your siblings forced me to.

Note to Self: Let a few weeks go by and then call Mom and apologize for not being more tactful. 

ME: Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it because my really messy closet has me barricaded from my front door.

INVITER #6:  “When first we practice to deceive . . .” Oh come now, you can do better than that! A messy closet. Sheesh, what do you take me for? I’ll expect you at 7 pm, unless you send visual proof of that whopper.

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INVITER #6: Uh…Maybe my guests can bring some hangers and come over and help dig you out. It can be a “Coming Out Of The Closet” theme shindig. 

Note To Self: Wear those mustard yellow pants hanging in center of closet. AT. Every. Single Party. (To eliminate future invites.)

READERS: When someone declines your invitation with a vague, “Thank you for thinking of me and I hope you have a great time!” Be honest — Are you a teeny bit offended, wondering if they could totally attend, but just don’t want to? And how do you personally say, “Thanks but no thanks?”

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Me, Myself and HER!

article-2338039-1A2D4055000005DC-603_634x433 (2)It’s happening again. This time at the library. I am just told I have three books that are 8 weeks overdue. “Well that sounds just like you, Stephanie,” I can hear you thinking, my dear reader.

True. Except for the title of the books . . .

  • The Power of Math in the Real World” 
  • “Confessions of an Obsessive Housecleaner” 
  • “Chocolate. What’s All the Fuss About?” 

Uh huh.  See what I mean?  I immediately snatch back my $27 in late fees, justifying loudly, “That’s not me. It’s her again.”

Librarian:  Her Who?

Me:  There’s Another Stephanie Lewis.

Librarian:  Smart, clean, skinny little devil, isn’t she?

I know “Lewis” is a common last name, and I’m proud to share it with famous people like Jerry, Carl and Shari but really, there has to be precisely another Stephanie Lewis??  And she has to be in my exact neighborhood, running in my same circles, traipsing around respected public institutions, checking out obscure books and pinning the blame on me?

But this is not her worst fault.  Oh that’s right, I know all about her even though we’ve never met. She has an overbite and bleeding gums. She needs her wisdom teeth out, which she’s putting off until her last kid goes to college. Yep, we share the same dentist and our files seem to be interchangeable. I wonder if she ever takes the credit for my cavity-free check-ups?

Back when people rented movies in a physical storefront, she’d be the first one in line, booking in advance all the new releases like “Kramer Vs. Kramer” and “Rain Man.” This Stephanie Lewis had to be a video hog AND have impeccable taste? Upon checking out my own personal selections, I’d be informed (in front of others standing in line!) “We’ll have “Tootsie,” “The Graduate,” and “Ishtar” in for you any day now, Ms. Lewis.” I’d nod, then smile evilly as I secretly printed my name on a reservation slip for “Deep Throat” and “Reefer Madness,” and then never show my face there again.

T’was a little parting fun surprise for Stephanie’s husband, who perhaps thought her crush on Dustin Hoffman was her biggest issue.

Even with all the mistaken identities at medical facilities, including having the wrong prescriptions delivered to my home (once I almost telephoned her to recommend she eat more yogurt for all those yeast infections) plus mix-ups at dry-cleaners, banks and car-dealerships, I think the very worst thing about having the same name as this woman has got to be her utter and complete altruism and philanthropy.

I cannot tell you the number of times my family replays messages left on our home answering machine stating that I’m being recognized at a special dinner for all my volunteer hours at the homeless shelter. Or receiving an award for calling out Bingo for the senior citizens or the tireless hours spent reading to preschoolers. Because my children know me so well, they instantly delete every one of those niceties.

Well big deal. Listen to what I can do… “I-19.  G-42. O-75.”  And that’s not all. “Goodnight stars, Goodnight sky, Goodnight air. And Goodnight Stephanie Lewis’ everywhere!” See? She thinks she’s the only selfless humanitarian around!

Lately I’ve become accustomed to explaining they have the wrong Stephanie Lewis whenever these charitable organizations call, but now I am starting to feel a tad guilty.  I suppose I can find a little time to “give back,” right??  How hard can it be to “Pay it forward” every once in a while?

So it came as no surprise to me when the head of the school PTA called yesterday, informing me I would need to bring my own set of power tools when I came to help set-up for Grad Night at my son’s high school this weekend. Remembering my newfound unselfish philosophy, I gleefully tore apart my house, searching for a stray hammer or wrench so I could show up during her designated shift and finally meet this Stephanie Lewis in the flesh once and for all — a wonder woman who apparently needed no coverage for any of her gray hairs at The Tousled Tresses Salon around the corner.. FullSizeRender (6)

No sooner did I set foot in the high school parking lot when I saw a very pretty lady getting pulled over by campus security as they loudly announced on their walkie-talkies, “We’ve finally apprehended Ms. Lewis. Now we’re gonna collect on her back-owed tickets!” She sat mouth agape in her sparkling red car, no doubt wondering how she’d accrued over $440 dollars in penalties because (obviously!) she’d always diligently ordered that pesky required parking permit.

I scurried away as the Principal of the school and a guidance counselor strode sternly in her direction. Again I knew what this matter was about. Poor woman apparently now had a son who organized not only Senior Ditch Day but also Senior Prank Day and there were 1500 water balloons that had exploded and damaged some antique desks that belonged to Abraham Lincoln.  Tut, tut. My Her son should definitely lose his cellphone for that little indiscretion.

Before I left the scene entirely, I made an impromptu decision to drop by her car and interrupt the commotion for just a moment. As I grabbed her power tool case, (I informed her I’d be happy to fill in for her tonight) I dropped a Hershey’s bar on her front seat. “Here you go, Stephanie. You may as well find out right now why chocolate will be your sudden “go-to comfort food” in this exciting new life of yours.”

Don’t worry – – she’ll be fine.  She might just want to spell Stephanie, “Stefanie” for a bit.

And now if you’ll excuse me dear Readers, I’ve heard that this other Stephanie Lewis has just published an article on Scary Mommy, which is an amazing online magazine that I’ve been dying to get my writing on for months.  I think I’ll just go clarify in the comments section that I’m actually the Stephanie D. Lewis author they should be crediting RIGHT HERE.