’Tis the season to be flaky, as holiday parties stack up in our Google calendars like Tetris blocks, annual work projects come due, and all the sort-of friends you’ve put off seeing for months want to “catch up over drinks” before Dry January kicks in. The true Christmas miracle is that it’s cold season, so all of the minor illnesses you invent to get out of stuff seem plausible.
Even when it’s not time for endless school holiday concerts and book-club white-elephant parties, we’re living in a veritable age of cancellation. Virtually every kind of food, entertainment, and alcohol can be delivered to your house, negating the need to ever leave it. Introversion is a badge of honor now, so you can’t begrudge someone the need for quiet time alone to recharge—it’s that person’s identity. We all know the relief of learning that someone just canceled on you, thus making you the cancelee, though, let’s face it, you would just as likely have been the canceler.
I am the queen of cancellation.“Heyyyyy guyyyyyyyssss—” begins a typical email from me backing out of plans, yet again. (The Ys multiply the guiltier I feel, and the more recently I’ve no-showed.) A book thing came up, and it has to be done by Monday, so I can’t use that non-transferable ticket you got me after all. Or I’m sick, again. But actually sick this time—not pretending to be sick so I can run errands without making anyone mad. To make time to copyedit something, I canceled on a work party of my boyfriend’s, then canceled on my own work party for good measure. I’ve started feebly sending this same boyfriend to social engagements in my stead, like a sad foreign minister from Flake Nation.