The In-Crowd (And How To Know If You’re A Member)

By Phil Goldstein | North Forty News

If you’re in with the in-crowd where you live, you probably know you’ve attained that lofty status just by looking at your social calendar. And even when you were a child, you knew your popularity quotient relative to the other kids by when you were chosen for the neighborhood pickup game teams. But if you’re uncertain about your in-crowd status now, the following is how you can tell where you stand, based on what I call, ‘the invitation code’. 

First up among the several decryptions of the code is the ‘afterthought invitation’, which goes something like this: “Hi, I know it’s last minute, but we’re having the Rockefellers and Carnegies over for canasta tomorrow and thought you might like to join us too.” I get it. You just need two more people to fill out the card tables, and the Vanderbilts canceled at the last minute.

Next there’s the ‘invitation with a catch’: “Hi, We’re having the (whomevers) over to grill out steaks. We know you two are vegetarians, and we’d love to have you join us, but you’ll want to bring something you can eat.” Gosh, that’s thoughtful of you. May we come to enjoy your company but just eat the chips and dip?

And of course very telling about one’s status is the ‘hope we get a better offer’ reply when you invite several members of the in-crowd to a soiree, and here’s how that works: You send an invitation to a group of prospective guests. However, you won’t get immediate responses because, per the mysterious phenomenon that’s this particular invitation code, everyone must first check with everyone else before replying to see if there’s perhaps a better gig than yours to which they’re all also invited. [This ‘code’ is familiar to me because that’s how it frustratingly worked when I tried to arrange dates in college.]

Then there’s the ‘we’re on our way’ invitation. This is when an in-crowd member feels a bit guilty about not including you in the group’s activities after you’ve repeatedly included them. So they text—which is preferable to a call as ideally you might not even see it—as they’re already enroute to the bar or restaurant, thus technically tendering a reciprocal invitation knowing it’s unlikely that you’ll drop everything and jump in the car. Meanwhile, they’ve now absolved themselves of any further obligation to balance the social ledger. 

Finally, there’s the ‘we’re here and you’re not invitation’, usually accompanied by photos, in which you learn… well, you know, someone’s somewhere doing something to which you weren’t invited, with the added affront of, “Hi, we’re having a great time. You would enjoy this and should come with us next time.” Thanks, but I’m afraid we’re busy that week.

Alas, as one who 60 years later still bemoans being the last kid selected for the neighborhood baseball games—I was the quickest runner, but unfortunately stealing bases wasn’t allowed—I now revisit those adolescent sleights anew courtesy of grown-up social faux pas.

But no offense taken to you invitation coders. On the contrary, thanks for providing me with a swell satirical subject for this month’s column!

Until next time, be well.

Phil Goldstein is in his fourth year writing Tales from Timnath for North Forty News. Phil is a 13-year Timnath resident who is finally using his West Virginia University journalism degree after getting sidetracked 50 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column at

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