About a week ago, I saw an article in my newsfeed about ‘ghosting at parties,’ which is leaving without saying goodbye. The author, Seth Stevenson, gave an insightful background of the ethnophobic terms surrounding ghosting, such as “French Farewell.”
He also made the argument that ghosting is more courteous than it seems. E.g. while “a hello has the bright promise of a beginning,” Stevenson points out that goodbyes are kind of a “bummer.” That’s true, but I wanted to snort; ghosting to be a good guest! While I’m all for being a party ally in the spirit of more fun for everyone, I felt that the article missed an opportunity — the opportunity to point out that ghosting is awesome for selfish reasons.
Ghosting goes well with the trope of Making an Appearance, which is a fashionable way of saying you’re a dirty, dirty party hopper like me. I’d like to pretend I ghost to protect the feelings of my party hosts when I leave their hipster potluck for a warehouse rager. I’d like to, but I don’t. I’m creating an illusion that everyone is important to me by not calling attention to how much I’m party double-dipping. That way, fewer people will hate me for being popular.
It’s true that no one cares that you are leaving. Well, except I do, at my birthday party. If you are leaving at my birthday party, please do interrupt whatever I’m doing to hug me goodbye because it makes me feel super loved, d’awww. Anyway, usually no one cares that you are leaving. And, if you don’t draw any attention to it, they won’t notice at all. This is the way I trick everyone into thinking that I’m there longer than I really am. By sliding out secretly, I slip into the party’s narrative as a permanent fixture. Perhaps I was there the whole night. Perhaps the party was so large it swallowed me up. Ghosting, my friends, is the secret to becoming a legend.
And I avoid so much awkwardness. If I start a round of farewells, by the time I get to the end of the line I run into the first person again and it’s been 20 minutes, so do I hug them once more? The dreaded goodbye Möbius strip: we could get stuck in an endless loop of departure, then someone forms their own exit circuit, then we’re all circling each other in a nervous chain of social rituals ’til someone introduces waving and we flock out the door, hands fluttering.
I’ve been caught trying to ghost before. There’s the catch.
We had driven all the way to Chula Vista and instead of a free-spirited soiree we found a weirdness ambush.
Immediately a man I didn’t know put his arm around me, people were dancing barefoot in the backyard to no music at all, and worst of all, I realized, everyone was dry as paper. Sober. They were all sober. What little alcohol there was — I saw evidence of a single pint of vodka and a six-pack of Fire Rock Pale Ale — had long ago been emptied, and evaporated out of their blood, and they were gooey and friendly and touchy but sober. These old hippies had been baking their brains and drinking the new-age Kool-Aid so long that they act like floaty affection amoeba without needing to be on any substance at all.
“Everyone is sober. There is no alcohol. I don’t think there ever was.” Katelyn said to me.
When she and I tried to duck out the front door, a guy who vaguely knows me asked, “leaving already?” Perhaps he saw the horror in our eyes. “Oh,” I said, “We’re just going to go get some beer. Be back soon!” A goodbye ritual would have only delayed my escape, and I didn’t want to be trapped there another second.
We got on the road for another 40 minutes and I found my friend “Arwen” and collapsed into her arms. “What took you so long to get here?” she said as she hugged me hello.
“I have been at the wrong party.” I said. “Now I know better. This is the right party…this is the right party…” I repeated in a shell-shocked whisper.
She laughed and offered her flask and I never went back to that other party.