Like Glenn Reynolds and several million other Americans, I was always taught that you thank your host/hostess when you leave a party or social event you’ve been invited to. I’ve also taught my daughters and grand kids the same rule. It’s basic etiquette 101.
Evidently Seth Stevenson of Slate Magazine “had no raisin’ “, , as we say in the South. From reading his screed, it’s a foregone conclusion that his parents didn’t teach him basic manners.
According to Stevenson, it’s completely appropriate to just leave a party without thanking the host for the invitation:
Ghosting—aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other vaguely ethnophobic terms—refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. One moment you’re at the bar, or the house party, or the Sunday morning wedding brunch. The next moment you’re gone. In the manner of a ghost. “Where’d he go?” your friends might wonder. But—and this is key—they probably won’t even notice that you’ve left.
Yes, I know. You’re going to tell me it’s rude to leave without saying goodbye. This moral judgment is implicit in the culturally derogatory nicknames ghosting has been burdened with over the centuries. The English have been calling it French leave since 1751, while the French have been referring to filer à l’anglaise since at least the late 1800s. As with other cross-Channel insults—depending on your side, a condom is either a French letter or la capote anglaise, syphilis the French disease or la maladie anglaise—the idea is to pin unsavory behavior on your foes.
Here in the U.S., the most-used term seems to be Irish goodbye, which, due to unfortunate historical stereotyping, hints that the vanished person was too tipsy to manage a proper denouement. Dutch leave is a less common, but apparently real, variant. (I picture someone taking a couple pulls on a vaporizer, scarfing too much bitterballen, and stumbling into the night.) And then there’s the old, presumably Jewish joke: WASPs leave and don’t say goodbye, Jews say goodbye and don’t leave.
But religio-nationalist slurs aside, is it really so bad to bounce without fanfare?
Well, yes it is bad to leave without saying goodbye. It’s rude and ill mannered and shows you to be a boor. Do that a few times and don’t hold your breath waiting for the next party invite.
Some more bad advise from Mr. Stevenson:
Let’s free ourselves from this meaningless, uncomfortable, good time–dampening kabuki. People are thrilled that you showed up, but no one really cares that you’re leaving. Granted, it might be aggressive to ghost a gathering of fewer than 10. And ghosting a group of two or three is not so much ghosting as ditching. But if the party includes more than 15 or 20 attendees, there’s a decent chance none will notice that you’re gone, at least not right away. (It may be too late for them to cancel that pickleback shot they ordered for you, but, hey, that’s on them.) If there’s a guest of honor, as at a birthday party, I promise you that person is long ago air-kissed out. Just ghost.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might try out some ghosting variations. I have a friend who favors the “Northern Irish goodbye.” You announce your intention to ghost long in advance, as a warning, so there will be no collateral damage.
Whichever version you choose, it is time to commence ghosting, America. Should you have questions about all this, I’m happy to answer them. I’m just gonna wander toward the front of the bar for a second. Be right back.
One of Seth Stevenson’s friends, if he has any left, needs to send him Emily Post’s book on etiquette.
In reading the comments following the article, I get the impression that most readers agree with me and Mr. . Reynolds.