This week I came across an interesting article about a particular method of leaving a party or gathering, called “ghosting.”
Ghosting, aka “The Irish Goodbye,” aka “The French Leave,” aka several other names, is where at a time of your choosing, you just disappear without fanfare or goodbyes.
My old buddy Brill used to do this all the time at our Barn Parties. I used to call it “The Brillhart Fade.” One minute he’d be there, carousing with the rest of us, then he’d just be gone. It used to drive me nuts because anything could have happened to him.
Brill was pretty frail, so we wanted to watch out for him. He lived a couple of houses down so he was on foot, and given the dark country road on which we lived, and the 55 mph speed limit, I would have preferred to know he was leaving. For all we knew, he could have been eaten by bears, while going out for a pee.
I used to yell at him about it, and he’d always say, “I just want to go, and not make a big deal out of it.”
I’d say, “It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just let me know… give me a signal or something.”
Cut to many years later, and now that I know what it’s called, I can say that ghosting is my favorite way to leave an event. Usually it’s at a moment where I’ve already had conversations with the people there whom I know, and find myself standing by myself. My choices are to try to graft myself onto another group’s conversation or stand there feeling sorry for myself, hoping someone comes up and talks to me (which never happens, ever).
I try to stop drinking at least an hour or so before I want to leave, so if the timing is right, I just ease my ass out the door. It’s not like I’m sneaking around. I move through the room as I normally would, and just keep going. I think it helps to leave my coat or briefcase somewhere near the exit.
As far as I’ve ever heard, no one mentioned my stealthy departure. I can only assume that they never really noticed I was gone.
So I agree with Brill now. It’s just a hassle to start going around announcing your intent to leave. Who do you tell? The host? Everyone you talked to? Everyone you talked to, who you actually like? To me, it’s so much better just to vanish. It adds a layer of mystery about me... IF, anyone gives a rip, that is.
Obviously, this is not a tactic I would use with a small group. That’s would be rude. I’m talking about a party with 30 or more people, or a workplace happy hour out at a local bar. The last thing I want to do is interrupt someone else’s conversation, just to say goodbye. Plus, by that portion of the night, I’m not at my most articulate, I’m sure. All I want to do is get home and go to bed.
It also doesn’t work as well if you’re there with someone. It’s much harder to be inconspicuous as a pair. To pull that off, you have to create some kind of diversion.
“OK, the curtains are on fire… let’s get out of here.”
So what do you do when you want to leave a party or event?