In the June 2017 edition of The Atlantic magazine, they asked, “What Is The Best Exit Of All Time?” Ten interesting and varied responses from readers were listed. Not one but two of the famous exits belonged to Richard Nixon. “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore,” and “his iconic wave from the White House South Lawn” made the list. Two more were “Thelma and Louise joyously driving at top speed over a cliff” and “The Irish Exit” (which I will cover later).
I decided to weigh in and add my own favorite exits and exit lines to the list, such as:
“Auntie Em, there’s no place like home,” the exit line from The Wizard Of Oz.”
The Brexit exit (not crazy about the strategy, but a great word combination).
“Elvis has left the building.”
The “most of us . . . need the eggs” joke at the end of Woody Allen’s movie, Annie Hall.
“Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you Kings of New England,” a line from the movie The Cider House Rules delivered every night at bedtime by Michael Caine to his charges.
But my all-time favorite is the closing to each Looney Tunes cartoon. After a jazzed-up version of “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down,” a stuttering Porky Pig bids the farewell, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks.”
This started me thinking about my own social exits and exit lines. I wondered what personal strategies I could use when I think it’s either time to depart or to make a break for it (whatever the case). I definitely don’t want my exit to appear clumsy, or like I’m beating a retreat. It should be performed gracefully and tactfully with a certain style and panache.
When it comes to exiting, I think three questions come to mind:
- How soon can I leave? – According to my research, it’s acceptable to leave a party after one hour (minimum), a dinner party after the coffee is served, and a wedding after the speeches have been given. It is actually considered more of an impropriety to overstay your welcome.
- How can I detach myself? – Sometimes it’s difficult to get the host’s attention. Standing and waiting to be acknowledged can be awkward. What I do from a distance is give a little wave indicating I am leaving and I mouth a “thank you.” If they indicate that they got my message, I can depart. Should the host disengage from the conversation and come over to talk to me, then that’s fine. I offer no flimsy excuses. I simply say it’s time for me to leave, and I thank the host for a wonderful time. There’s a saying that says, “It takes a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye,” so I try to keep it brief.
- Should I employ “The Irish Exit?” – “Ghosting a gathering is another name for it. It’s basically leaving a party without saying goodbye or thanking your host.” According to Stephanie Danier, a writer from New York who wrote Sweetbitter, “It’s the best thing to happen to party etiquette in my lifetime.” I know. At first blush, this just seems downright rude. It should be noted it’s NOT a good idea if those in attendance are less than ten. An intimate gathering requires a personal thank you and goodbye. If there are twenty or more guests present, then the Irish exit is an option. My host probably won’t notice my exit nor will I be missed. Many now consider this behavior completely acceptable. It’s considered good form to follow up the next day with a thank you note or email. For more details click on the following link, “How To Pull Off The Irish Goodbye.”
Making A Grand Exit
In this life, it seems to me we are overly obsessed with making grand entrances. The fact is we are probably remembered more for our exits than our entrances. I think it’s a good idea to concentrate more on what occurs when we are taking our leave.
So, how does one make an exit memorable? It’s really not that hard. Throw a drink in someone’s face and storm out of the room. This will certainly get you talked about. You can do something so outrageous that the police have to come and escort you out. And I think it is safe to say, you won’t be forgotten. But things of this nature have already been done many times, and these are certainly not the preferred ways to leave a gathering.
Making An Epic Exit
Personally, what I would like is for my exit to be unique and memorable. So much so it would become known as THE epic exit. Just prior to my departure I would quietly stand posed and motionless at the exit door until I had everyone’s attention. And then, with a dramatic flair, I would wrap my cape around my body and disappear in a puff of smoke. It’s called “The Vampire Vamoose.”