Leave the Party While You’re Still Popular

How not to push your luck

“Come on. It’s time to go.”

“Why? I’m having fun!”

“Exactly. But things are winding down now, and we don’t want to be here at the last moment. Do we?”

A familiar conversation with my husband as the end of a social event draws near. He likes to stay when virtually everyone else has left. I, on the other hand, see virtue in knowing when it’s time to go.

There’s a reason we refer to the finish — the last moments — as the bitter end. It’s never as sweet or comfortable as the hours leading to it.

All experiences have a beginning, middle, and close. Like sandwiches, the tastiest parts are often between the launch and finale.

Signs the end is nigh are easy to spot when you’re attuned. Elderly guests, and a few early-to-bed types, collect their coats and saunter off before the best part — they miss the veritable feast; those delightful moments when everyone’s laughing and full of zeal.

As you watch them slip into the night and drive away, you know there’s at least an hour or two before the beginning of the end — the last few mouthfuls of the party.

Next to leave, at exactly the right moment, are those seasoned in social events; people who enjoy socializing, but don’t aim to stay until evening’s winter.

They make their getaway cheerfully, and when the hosts say “it’s been lovely to see you” and “thanks for coming” they mean it.

Then there are the diehards, and among them, my husband.

When hosts look weary and take glasses and nibble bowls to the kitchen, it’s already way past time to leave. Not just out of politeness, but because you don’t want to be a drudge.

“You don’t understand,” my spouse whines. “I’m a night owl. A party animal.” I stifle a giggle — at home, he usually goes to bed when the TV watershed commences.

No doubt, he remembers his younger days when he was wild. He boasts about having been drunk for a whole year, sometime in his twenties, as though that’s a good thing. The mind boggles.

“Yes. I can see that,” I reply, knowing I must be persuasive, or we’ll outlive our welcome. “Let’s say goodbye to people, shall we though. I mean, they look tired. Maybe the party is over?”

“It’s not over until the last person leaves.” He grins and I get the distinct impression he’s visualizing me as a ball and chain; a party pooper.

Then I look around and note almost everybody else has long gone. Empty dishes and bottles — definite signals the doors want to close — line the tables and cabinets, and I know I’m right.

“I’ll get our coats,” I mumble as he fills his glass and settles down next to a can’t-get-off-the-couch type.

When I return, naturally, he says “but, we mustn’t go yet. I haven’t finished my drink.”

Eventually, we leave.

These days, after a great deal of practice, we aren’t quite the last. A few stragglers remain. Still, I sigh. It’s always better to recognize when a meal’s done rather than search for the final crumbs.

Nature Lover, Former Mental Health Professional, Writer https://tinyurl.com/y2cgqhgv

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