Magazine article The Spectator

The New Social Menace? Serial Flakes

Magazine article The Spectator

The New Social Menace? Serial Flakes

Article excerpt

No shows. Repeat cancellations. And all excused by 'flakiness'

It was the third time in a row that she had cancelled our date for drinks. The first time she'd forgotten. The second time she remembered a previous engagement and the third time she claimed she'd got the dates mixed up. The next day I got the text she always sends: 'Sorry darling, I'm such a flake!'

I used to have friends. Now I have flakes -- people who are always screwing up arrangements to meet. Flake has become the catch-all explanation and excuse for the bad manners or bad behaviour of friends and loved ones.

We all know about ladies who lunch. But what about the ones who forget you were even having lunch? This kind of woman -- let's call her the flake fatale -- will feign remorse and say: 'I'm such a flake! Can we do it next week? Please?' Or when she fails to turn up to a party where you had planned to meet --because she got pissed at another party -- she will say with pride: 'How flakey was that!'

I know a girl who forgot to tell her boyfriend that he'd been dumped and their Valentine dinner cancelled. The poor guy waited at the restaurant for nearly two hours. I asked her how could she be so cruel? 'I'm not cruel,' she protested, 'just a bit flakey.'

Men can be flakey too, but they tend to reserve the tag for other men. As in 'that guy is such a flake!' It's too fluffy a term for blokes. So a man will confess to being a 'screw-up', an 'idiot' or, in rare moments of honesty, 'a total shit' -- but never a flake.

We live in an age when we make dates to see our friends -- then we don't see our friends. We cancel. Once. Twice. Three times. Even four. This was once considered rude; now it's the norm. A firm date for dinner is just the first step in a series of broken arrangements. When I complain, younger friends tell me to 'chill', because every-body does it. Lately, when I make a date to see a friend, I ask: 'Would you care to cancel now -- or wait till the day we're meant to meet?'

No one wants to consider this as rude; it's just flakey. Your archetypal flake fatale is in her late twenties and works in the media or the arts -- anywhere where being 'flakey' is considered rather cute and doesn't get you fired for being incompetent. Just try playing the flake card if you're a barrister or doctor. …

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