An Ode To The Friend Who Knows When It’s Time To Leave The Party

The march of progress has abolished many things to which I say “Good riddance:” sanitary belts, the necessity of finding and killing an animal to eat it, bootcut jeans, etc. etc. But it has also taken with it a few lovely things to which I still cling tightly: tamagotchis, being able to slip off the grid, phone-wise, and the delicate art of the thank you note. Everything about a thank you note is nice, really: lovely stationary, everyone’s slightly different, unique-to-them handwriting, the idea of someone taking the time to express real gratitude in an intimate, personalized way. Well, like pocket protectors and the phrase, “get a grip,” I have big plans to bring back the thank you note. Starting right here, right now.

Dear HERO,

I know I don’t need to tell you that you’re the best—it is your quiet confidence that makes you so skilled at pinpointing the exact moment the party transitions from “fun time for all of us” to “let’s make a hasty exit and pay a visit to my good buddies Frito and Lays”—but I felt it was time that the world knew it too. You are THE. BEST. and I don’t know what I’d do without you, although I suspect it would involve more pointless small talk with strangers than I would like.

Sure, a party is a fun place to be. In an ideal setting, you’ve got a series of dips at the ready, the possibility of Meaningful Eye Contact with a handsome stranger, and you’re surrounded by casual acquaintances dressed to the nines. What’s not to like?

I’m not some kind of party Grinch, intent on ruining your love of gettin’ down in Partytown (you are the mayor), but I think we can all agree that a good party, like Greek yogurt and almost anything good in this world, has an expiration date, and you need to know when that is or risk spending hours trying to figure out how to make a delicate exit amongst the stragglers. The exact time at which to do this is, for us common folk, as difficult to ascertain as the exact job of this man who has been barking at us about synergy for the past twenty minutes, but to you it is as simple as a quick glance around the room. I know, inherently, that when you say “I think it’s time to go,” you are correct.

But it’s not enough to simply know that there is an inverse correlation between the number of times you’ve heard someone say, “I mean it, man, I really love you,” and the number of minutes you should continue to spend at the party. Sure, we’ve figured out that it’s time to leave, but HOW? You know how. And I know you know I know that you know. Your social grace! Your plethora of excuses! Your ability to melt away into the night as if you had never been there to begin with, should the situation call for a classic Irish Exit!

I just know that as soon as you give me the Knowing Nod, or a quiet Head Tilt Towards the Door, all I need to do is follow your lead. Within minutes you’ve thanked the host (or not, as is prudent), given your number to the appropriate new friends/love interests, located our coats underneath the sketchy pile from whence they came, and even returned some girl’s wallet that had gone missing in the fray. And we’re off!

But “so long and thanks for all the Pepperidge Farm goldfish” is not the end of the night. Oh no. It’s not like we’re ditching the party to go home and be Debbie Downers. This is no Dilemma by Negative Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland. We’re bowing out gracefully at this particular party, possibly at its apex or some time soon thereafter, quitting while we’re ahead and moving on to greener pastures. These pastures might take the shape of a McDonald’s—less green and more beige, in that case—another party, or one of our homes. The two of us on your floor going H.A.M. on a bag of Miss Vickys.

The party may have ended in the traditional sense, but the party that is life continues, and you are invited, forever, for unplanned sleepovers, spontaneous deep sharing, late-night life choice affirmations, and more. You are effectively a sorceress of the ancient magick (with a k) of a good night out, and I am but the sorcerer’s apprentice. Now let’s put on some robes and tell secrets, already, I thought we’d never escape that place.

Yours sincerely,

Monica Heisey

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