Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Répondez S'il Vous Plaît

I'm thinking of opening my own RSVP business. The concept would be modeled after People's Revolution, Kelly Cutrone's "public relations, branding and marketing firm" (see Bravo reality series Kell on Earth), which appears to provide as its main service the frantic collection, logging, charting and checking of RSVPs.

Here's the thing: I'm totally qualified. During the early years of my career, I used to address envelopes and place postage on invitations of every description. I answered calls, listened to messages and received e-mails containing RSVPs. I made lists of RSVPs, and I confirmed RSVPs. I alphabetized RSVPs. At the entrances to parties from coast to coast, I consulted spreadsheets of RSVPs and matched them to actual party attendees.

Somewhere along the line, I learned to perform the RSVP. Invitations bearing my name arrived in the mail, complete with phone numbers and e-mail addresses to which I was expected to respond. I received Evites. I became the subject of follow-up RSVP-related phone calls. My name--and variations thereof--appeared on the list and was crossed off at the door. I began to read invites carefully for clues about the probability of complimentary valet parking. I mastered the art of the plus one, and occasionally, the plus six.

I am both mean and nice enough to make it in the RSVP industry. As part of my all-encompassing customer service package, I will scrupulously Google every party attendee. I will create seating charts and assign VIP status based on the number of each guest's Twitter followers. I will make easy-to-read notations on The List to specify which guests (determined by attractiveness level of Facebook profile photo) are worthy of appearing on the red carpet. And, most importantly, I shall employ a complicated ranking system to indicate who among the RSVPs is eligible to receive the most luxurious gift bag at the end of the night and a "thanks for coming!" e-mail the next day.

Meanwhile, I will continue to personally attend a wide variety of parties and balls, if only to ensure I remain in tune with the latest in RSVP protocol. If you are interested in becoming an investor in my new venture, please let me know. I'm still weighing my options, but as of right now it's between the RSVP thing and opening a Waffle House in Lincoln Park.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Aesthetically Pleased (Or Not)

It might be over between me and National City bank (now a part of PNC). I opened my first and only checking account with National City when I was 15. My mother cosigned, and I've never taken her name off the account. It's too much trouble. If my mom wants to review my online statement to see how many times I ate at Chipotle or the staggering number of $2.50 debits to LAZ Chicago Parking, fine by me.

National City kept me hanging on these many years for one reason and one reason only: aesthetics. I like the logo. The pleasing boldness of its letters; its rich bluish-greenness; the soothing arrangement of pale green bubbles on my debit card. Now that PNC is forcing its ho-hum signage upon every former National City location (and soon, I suspect, my new debit card), I may be forced to transfer my assets to an institution with more visual character. What does PNC even stand for? Who knows, and who cares. It's too boring to research. Not even my teller, Gloria, had an answer when I stood at her counter to make a deposit today:

Gloria: Let me see here. They may have already converted your account...
Me: Who's they? PNC? To tell you the truth, I don't like this PNC thing one bit.
Gloria: But you should give them a chance. They might be a good bank.
Me: I hate the colors. I mean, look at your new nametag.
Gloria: I know. And you have to pay extra for the prettiest debit card.
Me: I'll probably have to do that. What a scam. Do you know what PNC stands for?
Gloria: Would you like a heart-shaped Dove chocolate to go?
Me: I guess so. Thanks.

In other news, I took Black Beauty for a bath yesterday at the We'll Clean Auto Wash on Halsted. She's been feeling self-conscious and a little damaged ever since her December break-in. I could tell her confidence was flagging, especially when she could barely motivate herself to climb a parking ramp at Whole Foods last week. I gave her a pep talk as we pulled into the bay:

Me: This'll be nice. We'll get rid of some of this salt, and I'll even spring for the Armor All tire treatment. You know your wheels have always been your best asset.
Black Beauty: What's the point? Don't waste your money on me. I'm a mess. Did you see that new dent under my right headlight?
Me: Come on, now. You look great for your age.
Black Beauty (gasping as garage door opened to reveal an entire BMW dealership's worth of new cars in line for a rinse): Is this some kind of joke? You're replacing me with a younger model, I know it!
Me: Get a grip. Go show these kids what's up. They can count themselves lucky if they make it as long as you. Geez Louise.

Black Beauty's not the only one with body image issues these days. Like seemingly all of Chicago, I've been spending an increased amount time at the gym over the past few weeks, trying to fight what my friend Tim refers to as Christmas Chub. He and our other friend, Jenny, have compiled an entire list of names for occasion-specific weight gain: Holiday Heft. January Jiggle. Recession Rumble. Thanksgiving Thunder. Flat-broke Flubber. They are ultra-creative, those two.

The locker room at Equinox is one of the most pleasant places one could hope not to be spotted by an acquaintance while in one's underwear or less (especially since Equinox introduced Kiehl's products in the showers), and I do my best to avoid conversations in this setting. But sure enough, there's always someone who ignores my lack of eye contact:

Woman in Red Granny Panties: Nice place to take a break from the cold, huh? I'm not sure if I can stand January anymore.
Me (frantically stuffing gym bag in locker): Mmm hmm.
WIRGP: I'm about to get out of here for a week or two at least. Going to visit my grandmother in Phoenix.
Me: Sounds good.
WIRGP: She's not doing so great. She's old. I might just stay to help her get her affairs in order. Or longer.
Me: That's nice of you.
WIRGP: Ever been to Phoenix?
Me: Nope, but I hear it's something. Well, have a good workout!

I suwannee.