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The Art of Ghosting

Don't Tell 'em Goodbye!

Photo by Tandem X Visuals / Unsplash

Ghosting. The Irish Goodbye. The Drunken Magician.

All synonyms for my favorite drinking move: Leaving the gathering without saying goodbye.

I know it’s socially unacceptable. It even rises to the level of rudeness if it leaves your friends with concerns that you might be hurt (like the time I ghosted from a packed bowling alley bar at 1:00 AM in 5-degree weather to walk the mile to my house).

But oh, I like it.

I’m not the only one. In fact, it’s a tradition of sorts. From Rule 71 of Modern Drunkard Magazine’s 86 Rules of Boozing:

It’s acceptable, traditional in fact, to disappear during a night of hard drinking. You will appear mysterious and your friends will understand. If they even notice.

My appreciation for it isn’t limited to drunken bouts, either. I like to do it at every gathering. In fact, I’ve been known to say “good-bye” upon arriving: “Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m gonna say goodbye now, if that’s alright, because when it’s time to leave, I normally just leave.”

Few social things are worse, in my opinion, than having a few drinks, growing tired, and wanting to leave . . . and then you have to wade through the party to find the host, just to say the obvious, “Okay, I’m leaving now. Thanks for having me. It was fun!” And then the host says, “Oh, do you really have to leave?” And you’re like, “Yeah, I haven’t been feeling well lately, and the kid is sick, and I gotta let this flatulence fly soon or I’m gonna explode.” It’s just awkward all around.

And then there’s the wading itself: You must push or walk by dozens of people to get to the host. Every person is a potential five-minute small-talk delay (20-minute delay, if you’re a female). Quite frankly, the wade itself is a source of stress, which is exactly what I don’t want when I’m at a party.

Also worth noting: there are two wades: one to get to the host, the other to return. Land mines in both directions. It’s brutal.

Fortunately, there are ways to ghost artfully.

Two have already been mentioned:

(1) You get so drunk, no one would expect anything but a ghosting.

(2) You tell the host up front that you’re going to ghost. A cool host will appreciate it. Remember this rhyme: “If cool is your host, he will like the ghost.”

But there are other artful ways to do the Drunken Magician (make yourself disappear):

(3) Text your host with a thankful goodbye after you leave. In fact, send yourself ahead of time an elaborate explanation that you can merely cut-and-paste. Done correctly, all that apparent thumb work on the phone keyboard will make you appear more earnest.

(4) Right before you walk out the door, tell the last person you see, “Tell Host I had a great time but had to run. I have this thing.” This has the benefit of not appearing to be a ghost AND flattering that last person by entrusting them with such an important task. Note: This might not work if the last person is ghosting himself and/or is too drunk to do anything so responsible.

(5) Come up with some elaborate trick, like the Von Trapp family at the end of The Sound of Music. In the short-term, it could appear rude due to the “in your face” nature of it (“He’s gone! He just freakin’ left!!!!”), but as people continue to talk about it over the years, it’ll become the stuff of legend.

(6) Fake a heart attack (technically, not a ghosting, but just as effective).

But let’s face it, all those approaches have their potential drawbacks. I think we’d all be better off if we merely lobby for a goodbye-free world. Let’s make it socially acceptable to ghost. At my parties, I’m more than fine with it. In fact, I prefer it when people ghost. I don’t need to fake-beg them to stay; I don’t need to get pulled away from the bar as I see them to the door. The benefits for the host and the guests are endless.

Now we just need to get our social circles to agree with us.

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