July 4, 2013

"Ghosting — aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other vaguely ethnophobic terms..."

"... refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. One moment you’re at the bar, or the house party, or the Sunday morning wedding brunch. The next moment you’re gone. In the manner of a ghost. 'Where’d he go?' your friends might wonder. But — and this is key — they probably won’t even notice that you’ve left."

From an argument recommending ghosting over saying goodbye. Once you've read that much, the argument for ghosting over goodbyeing is obvious. Right?

52 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

You get credit for staying longer than you really did!

Mitchell the Bat said...

After many nervous decades I finally figured out for myself that I could simply leave without giving a formal goodbye.

The same applies to awkward conversations. It's possible to simply walk away.

It never occured to me to give it a name.

But now that I think about it, I kind of like "give 'em the slip."

I think there was a little gangster in a Bugs Bunny cartoon who said that to his henchman.

"Give 'em the slip, Rocco."

Something along those lines.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Great idea. For a variation, host of gathering should make sure everyone knows that welcomes are welcomed, and ghosting is perfectly acceptable.

But then, I'm an INTP, and that may be why I think this is ok.

traditionalguy said...

The command performance aspect by the host is not polite either. But they probably deserve the added respect or you would not have gone in the first place.

Staying until the dishwasher is being loaded and the hosts wishe you would quit helping them and just leave is a passive aggressive counter move.

Ambrose said...

I always do this - never knew it had a name. I just thought is was enigmatic.

Mitch H. said...

No decent respect for the opinions of mankind here, is there? In the best of cases, it's rude, and in the worst, I would think the host ought to be counting her silverware after she realizes you've absconded without notice.

Rusty said...

I'm uncomfortable with the social protocolls of saying goodby, I find it tedious. So I just up and leave.

slumber_j said...

Taking French leave is most profitable at one's own wedding reception, in my experience.

Doc Holliday's Hat said...

I always thought it was the "Irish Exit." If it's not, it should be. It flows so much better than either the Irish Goodbye (because the similarity of the sounds and emphasis) or the French Goodbye (because of the matching number of syllables).

ricpic said...

You can spend a lifetime kicking yourself for not walking away from a horrendous date on which you're being treated like shit but hang on because the worst thing in the world is rudeness, or you can say "I'll be right back," walk out and feel good about it for the rest of your life.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

If it's not, it should be. It flows so much better than either the Irish Goodbye (because the similarity of the sounds and emphasis) or the French Goodbye (because of the matching number of syllables).

I dunno--I think Irish Goodbye sounds right because it sounds Anglo, and I like the Latin origin of 'exit' paired with the word 'French' even if the word 'French' (as opposed to the language) is also Anglo.

Henry said...

But always thank your host.

David Byrne imagined perfect ghosting:

There is a party, everyone is there.
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time.

Christopher said...

I think that as a matter of respect you should at least say goodbye to the host if you were specifically invited.

If the invite is non-personal (e.g. work related, you're the "plus one", a class reunion) then by all means leave without saying goodbye.

Mariposa said...

For those who find the social challenges of saying thank you and goodbye overwhelming, how about leaving a little thank you note written in cursive. If your host can't read it, he/she probably doesn't care anyway. Then you're free and clear, and you don't have to remember that email in the morning.

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

"Taking French leave" was always taking the coward's way out - abandoning the girl after she got pregnant, etc.

The Lefties are nothing if not consistent.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

I want to check out of this life like that for the same reasons. I'd like to pull an Earhart on this party when it finally gets boring, but I'm thinking it never will, so it's gonna have to be unintended, but I still hope it happens that way. A couple weeks go by and people say hey what ever happened to that guy?...and where's my paycheck?

Matthew Sablan said...

The question is whether ghosting is better or worse than The Long Goodbye.

Erich said...

I always liked Diamond Smiles by the Boomtown Rats.

Nobody saw her go,
They said they should have noticed
'cos her dress was cut so low.
Well it only goes to show
Ha, ha, how many real men any of us know.


It was only much later when I saw The Ruling Class that I realized the significance of the line about how she "went out kicking at the perfumed air".

Paul said...

Ethnophobic ???????

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. D said...

This would be the opposite of the "Minnesota Goodbye," in which you say goodbye and continue chatting with the host for up to 20 minutes in the entryway of the house.

creeley23 said...

From an argument recommending ghosting over saying goodbye. Once you've read that much, the argument for ghosting over goodbyeing is obvious. Right?

Not really. I don't bother trying to work out Althouse's terse little teasers anymore. It's usually not worth the time, and often she doesn't include enough information anyway -- so much the better for letting us know later how dumb we are.

I ghost or goodbye depending on how large the gathering, how close I am to the host(s), and how I feel.

I never thought much about it or heard any transatlantic euphemisms for it.

Sam L. said...

And for those who find it rude, invitations cease.

rhhardin said...

You can pre-ghost by not going.

Tari said...

Every fiber of my introverted being says this is a fantastic idea, but I still think it's rude. The only time I might do it is at a huge party when the hosts really aren't going to notice - and the chances of me being at that party to begin with are almost nil, what with being an introvert who hates parties and all...

edutcher said...

There used to be "The Main Line Good-bye" among the rich WASPs in the Philadelphia burbs, although it applied to phone conversations only.

When one had said all he wanted, he just hung up.

I, for one, would recommend some valediction. You never know who you'll see again.

creeley23 said...

And for those who find it rude, invitations cease.

I've never been a social butterfly and I'm middle-aged now anyway, but my impression is that people don't throw parties much anymore. Even people I know who are more social than I am notice this. Maybe it's different in Washington or Hollywood where parties are networking opportunities.

What happens more often is that people agree to meet at a bar or a restaurant, which saves a lot of trouble for the hosts, but can be quite expensive in the latter case.

I had a friend who went to an engagement party for a co-worker and found himself chipping in $85 for the bill and tip on top of whatever gift he brought. He was not amused.

betamax3000 said...

"Ghosting" Implies a Presence has Been Left Behind, not a Simple Vanishing Act. The Term "Ghosting" Would Thus Be More Applicable if the Guest were to Silently Fart Before Wordlessly Leaving the Party.

I Will Not Attribute a Nationality to This Form of Exit. It Can be Considered Universal.

Ann Althouse said...

If you say goodbye, you distract the host from the ongoingness of the party and cue everyone around that exits can be taken. Instead of good party talk, the subject must be how you are leaving and you've had enough. It's poopery.

Tom Gallagher said...

Is there a term for asking a phone solicitor to "please hold", but indefintely?

betamax3000 said...

The Problem with the Vanishing Act is that You Can't Really Do it if You Are The Designated Life of the Party. It is a Tough Life.

Sorun said...

What if you want to leave early, rudely early. Then ghosting might be the way. But if you ghost early and it's noticed, then it's really really rude -- double secret rude. Oh man, I think I'll just stay home.

creeley23 said...

It's poopery.

Surely it depends, as the author concedes, on the size of the party as well as other factors.

If there are 20+ guests, the night is young, and everyone is having a rip-roaring good time, by all means slip out unless it's your best friend and you're having brunch in the morning.

But if it's 11:30 and the party is down to six people, make your farewell. Don't grab your coat, turn your back, and head out the door without a word to the host.

Sorun said...

And here's an awkward one: You try to ghost but find there are cars blocking yours in the driveway. Now you have to ghost back in.

Krumhorn said...

Betamax, when I read your posts, I usually laugh out loud.

I knew a guy who would arrange to leave a massive steamer in the unflushed upstairs toilet. On the face of it, that could be taken as disrespect and even contempt. But it was him leaving behind a momento, and he delighted in the image of disgust that would register on discovery. Ole Frank, just sayin' good bye.

- Krumhorn

ErnieG said...

This thread reminded me of an old joke about the difference between British people and Jewish people. British people leave without saying goodbye; Jewish people say goodbye and say goodbye but don't leave.

Krumhorn said...

.....speaking of poopery...

Krumhorn said...

By the way, Ann, what is "good party talk"? Is it gossip? Certainly not politics. Bragging? Catching up? Well, maybe.

Unless its chatting up some cutie in the corner, I don't think I've ever heard any "good party talk". It's not hard to imagine that I'm to blame for that. Which is why the pre-ghosting concept of not even going in the first place appeals to me so much.

- Krumhorn

John said...

I thought that "French leave" was something cadets at Annapolis (and the other service academies?) did when they snuck off campus without permission.

I learned it from reading old (ca 1900) boys books such as "Joe Smith: Annapolis Plebe" that had been my father's as a boy.

I also had complete sets of Tom Swift, The Golden Boys, Motorcycle Chums, The Boy Allies" (in WWI) and others that had been his. Great reading for a 5th to 8th grader, even in the 50's. I wish I had them still.

John Henry

John said...

Krumhorn,

Are you Titus?

John Henry

Krumhorn said...

Hmmmm....a sock? Nope. Homey don't play that.

- Krumhorn


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kentuckyliz said...

Faux revoir

kentuckyliz said...

When one had said all he wanted, he just hung up.

My bestie's boyfriend used to get her off the phone by saying, "I gotta go take a shit." (This was before cell phones.)

Michael said...

We have done it ourselves, guiltily when we are in the mood to beat it and the host or hostess are not readily seen.

It is rude.

We are pretty old school and are used to saying thanks for having us and later sending hand written notes repeating our gratitude. All of these bits of courtesy are fading fast as even the professoriate finds it annoying to be interrupted from party giving to be thanked. I am sure that the follow up hand written note would be another annoyance, a letter to be read and handwriting to be decoded.

It remains, for now, a way to know those who are like us and those who are not. In a judgementsl sort of way.

ken in sc said...

In the Air Force, you were not supposed to leave an official social event, until after the highest ranking officer or commander had left. Thoughtful high ranking officers always left early. This allowed the heavy partiers to get started, and the others to leave.

Astro said...

I figure walking past the hostess and waving with an exaggerated gesture, and catching her eye, counts as goodbye.
No need to stand there awkwardly pretending to ne part of someone else's conversation, waiting for a break.

SOJO said...

Saying Goodbye to the hosts, if there are any, is all that is necessary.

I thought the Irish Goodbye was like the "Minnesota Goodbye" only longer - chatting for up to two more hours in between the hall, the door, and the gate.

rcocean said...

I'd call the "Minnesota Goodbye" the "Midwestern Goodbye".

I hate it. Just leave already.

The "Irish Goodbye" - never heard of that. Funny that Slate thinks its some kind of ethnic insult. I'm sure the Irish thought it up.

amba said...

I know somebody who does this and somebody else who calls it "The no-talk walk."