Sunday, September 19, 2010

Voulez-Vous Dîner Avec Moi Ce Soir?

I don't know how other people do it, but my friends and I have a pretty identifiable pattern when it comes to making plans of a set nature.  Years ago, when our schedules and lives were much more simple, the basic pattern emerged which has remained dominant in our current planning rituals even though we are now much more distant geographically and otherwise.

I am not sure what to call this pattern.  It is a bizarre combination of passive-aggressive and laziness.  Please note that I am not saying that any one of us is passive-aggressive or lazy, but when the group of us try to plan something as simple as a dinner meeting, it somehow brings out behaviors in everyone that trend towards these attributes.

Personally, I think we are all just so nice that no one wants to impose their will (or restaurant choice) on the whole group for fear of upsetting someone else.  Of all my friends, I think I have the reputation of being the bossiest.  I am sure my friends would "nice it up" by saying that I am more decisive or a leader-type.  Essentially this means that when it comes to making a definite call for the group, I'm usually the one who has to make the final choice and face the wrath or disappointment of anyone who secretly disagrees with me.  It's a risk we all have to take at some point.  So far I've emerged unscathed.

For illustrative purposes, I have decided to diagram out how this usually plays out.  Please note that any similarities to actual people in my drawings is purely coincidence.  I promise.

Everything begins with the person with the "big idea."  Here is how it starts:

After thinking about this for a while, the "big idea" happens:

Immediately, before they have a chance to forget about the "big idea," the initial email is composed to the whole group:

This email is sent and received with great excitement and anticipation:

At this point, the next step is clear to all.  Calendars are consulted, day planners are searched and everyone sends back their available dates for the next two months (it can take a long time to plan stuff with my friends).

After the excitement wears off and everyone has sent back their replies, the Inviter compiles the date information and comes up with a final date and time for the dinner meeting.  That is it.  Just a date and time.  Everything else is de facto "to be determined."

Depending on how far out this plan has been made, no more will be mentioned of it for a while.  Typically, everyone pretty much goes on as normal with their lives until...

At this point, someone realizes that while we definitely know when we are meeting, we have yet to determine WHERE we are meeting.  As this is actually a pretty important detail, another group email is sent to see if there are any requests or preferences among the attendees.  Without fail, the unanimous response to this inquiry is:

This is where someone (usually me) is forced into the bossy chair.  It is quite certain that everyone secretly has a preference or a sincere hankering for a specific food or type of restaurant, but trying to get them to admit to this will be like trying to convince my grandfather that he doesn't need to microwave his drinking water.  

As I have not been gifted with psychic powers, I will be forced to do the research.  Typically, this leads me to my preferred method of forcing the group to make the final decision without making them feel like they run the risk of angering the rest of the group with their choice.  I make them a short list.  

At this point, everyone is usually able to pick a place and feel safe about it.  The responses are tallied and thusly, a restaurant is chosen by the group (sort of).

Despite the fact that this process is almost always much much more time consuming than it needs to be, we always end up having a good time anyway.  Our dinners conclude by saying that we should do it again soon.  There was a time when we actually could do something like this once a month.  I'm not sure how long in between meetings we go nowadays, but it's longer than a month.  Either way, the end result is always fun and I guess the invitation cycle is all part of the excitement.

P.S.  This is the BIG entry I've been writing about for a few weeks now.  I'm sorry it took so long, but I am blaming the start of the new semester of school for my tardiness!!!  

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