The best things in life come in threes. Stooges. The Holy Trinity. Charlie’s Angels. Vertices of a Triangle. Ménages. Witches in Macbeth. My social advice columns. 

I’ve written about how not to disinterestedly look over a stranger’s shoulder to find cloutier” people to talk to at the Edon Club based on preliminary assessments of whiteness, wealth and social network. And about how to respond to your texts, even if it contradicts your resolution to “protect your peace” from the existential demands of an iMessage saying “when are you free from lunch?” Now only one social ill remains. It befalls upon me, again, to teach you how to be a human being. 

Imagine this. It’s the week of your birthday. Rendered completely unoriginal by a dire time crunch, you’ve decided to throw together a Barbie-themed birthday party on the weekend. You send out invites to a mix of close friends, class friends, friend crushes and distant acquaintances from an extracurricular organization you are genuinely interested in getting to know. That Friday, you find yourself at a liquor store, staring at a row of Pink Whitney bottles, wishing the Aperol spritz was America’s national beverage instead. 

How many Pink Whitney bottles do you buy? 

If Yale students operated according to basic social norms, my prior question would not ring with the solemnity of a thought experiment á la John Searle, nor require a complex systems algorithm to estimate upper and lower bounds. One could simply check the number of people who have confirmed attendance and purchase food and drink accordingly. In the case of last-minute no-shows, one might simply have an extra bottle or two that would come in handy the next time one is obligated to offer a hostess gift to an acquaintance they don’t like. 

Unfortunately, it is far more likely that most of the people on one’s invite list have failed to RSVP: many will cite a math problem due that night, a physics exam one week out and the mindfulness exercises one must undertake to emotionally prepare for a cappella deliberations as the cause of quivering uncertainty. 

And those are the best among the miscreants. The most brazen among them will never respond, nor will they ever acknowledge receiving the invitation, as if it was beneath them to acknowledge the existence of any “shindig” other than YIRA formal at Barcelona and DKE’s athletes-only Tang party. It is, after all, your fault for imagining your event warranted more than a passing, contemptuous snort from their inner monologue. 

The day before the party, when you finally muster the courage to confront them, even if for purely accounting purposes, they will evade all questions with the adroitness of an Eastern European gymnast avoiding laser beams at a fictional bank heist. You venture a simple “hey, what are your plans this weekend,” to test the waters, inviting the dejected response: “Oh, I don’t really have plans.” So they don’t have plans? Interesting. 

“Well I’ve heard somebody is throwing a party in the backyard of 332 Chapel St.,” you chuckle, desperately trying to undercut the awkwardness that one might feel while talking to a cavalier, sentient fungus. “OMG sounds so fun,” they perfunctorily exclaim. OMG sounds so fun? That tells me nothing about your potential attendance, even if it tells me a lot about how easily you could be replaced by an artificial intelligence model trained on Gen-Z texting data. 

Exasperated by their flagrant disregard for pointed subtext, you finally ask: “So, are you coming or not?” They buffer for a second, weighing the probability of having fun at your party with the percent points in social reputation they might lose by attending, alongside the potential success rate of hearing back from their single LEO contact. “I’ll try to make it but unsure,” they smile and walk away. You’ll “try” to make it? How hard will you try? Will you try like Michael Phelps “tries” to swim or will you try like Prince Charming “tries” to consider other ways of rousing Snow White — the shout and pat, the sternal rub, water on the face — before plopping his lips on her face?  

To be fair, I understand their concern. They worry if they RSVP “no,” I will be plunged into such despair that I will vow to cancel all celebrations — including my firstborn’s secular baptism — until the year 2050. Certainly a possibility, but I’ve been working on my mental fortitude in therapy so I think I might survive the crushing blow.  

There are many lessons I could offer from this hypothetical. First, stop writing essays and finishing problem sets the day they are due. Basic competence requires advance planning. Second, prioritize attending your friends’ parties and shows. In a few years, you are going to pay a lot more money for far worse entertainment. 

But most obviously, no matter what event you are invited to, have the decency to RSVP “yes” or  “no.” If you RSVP “maybe,” resolve what may be feasible for you with at least 24 hours of notice, so that the host does not have to imagine the tone with which your thumb was emoting in response to their invite.

Markets fail because of asymmetric information. Try not to augment your social failures with economic failures too. And the next time you do, don’t expect to ever get invited again.

PRADZ SAPRE is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at 

Pradz Sapre is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at