Ghosting, aka The Irish Goodbye
The holiday season is in full swing. This means lots of parties and celebration. For me that means Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, office holiday parties, Christmas, New Years eve, polar plunge, and a handful of other events I’m sure. For my mother-in-law it means a party to visit every day in the month of December. I don’t know how she does it.
Despite what others might tell you, I love the opportunity to see and visit with friends and family. We have some beers (or wine when it’s fancy). Eat some great food. Eat more great food until you’re FTB (fit-to-burst for my non-British readers). See how much everybody’s children have grown. There comes a point at every event though when you just want to go home. And when I want to go home, I’m ready to go home. For this reason, I’m a huge fan of “ghosting” or “Irish goodbyes.”
I hate goodbyes
Nobody said it better than Lloyd Christmas in Dumb & Dumber: “I hate goodbyes!” I’m well known in my circle of friends for ghosting, as they put it. (Yes, it seems to be used more these days as a way to end a relationship, but here I’m using it when you leave a party without saying goodbye to anybody.) Some call it an Irish goodbye.
I hate goodbyes, not because I’m sad to leave the party, but because I hate the whole process of saying goodbye. Studies show I’m not alone in this. Think about it: you’ve had a wonderful evening and achieved “peak fun.” Now that you’re ready to go home, you’re supposed to make your way around to everybody at the party, interrupt people’s conversation to inform them you’re leaving. People say “no, don’t go.” You have to give a line about why you “have” to go. Maybe you’re not even brave enough to admit you’d rather be in bed at that point.
You go through all this rigamarole to get out the front door, so you end up leaving on a sad note. The process of getting to leave brings you way down from your peak fun-zone. For this reason I’m a huge advocate of ghosting from your holiday parties. You too could leave parties at peak happiness. If I can do it, so can you.
I’ve wormed out windows. Snuck out side doors. Nobody caught me galavanting out of the garage, bounding from the basement, or leaping across the lawn. I might even name my bed “restroom” so it won’t be a lie when I excuse myself to there. “I’m going to the restroom. See you next year!”
When is it not ok to ghost?
Ghosting is always appropriate (after you have thanked your host) from parties, bars, events, etc. Ghosting is not cool though in life itself. Like literally becoming a ghost (i.e. dying). Can you imagine suddenly being gone from life and from your family? What would they do without you? Would they know what to do? Do they know what bills you pay? Where all your accounts and other assets are located? I recently discovered my wife thought we didn’t have health insurance for years. We did though. I paid the bills and since we’re in excellent health we never used the insurance.
Now if you ghost from a party and forget your sunglasses or Tupperware, you can just call your pal and make arrangements to get your stuff back. You can’t do that with life though (not yet anyway). Whatever you leave behind will be for your loved ones to sort out. And you can leave a real mess for them if you don’t take action to sort out some kind of plan before you’re gone.
Personally I don’t want my family to have to worry about anything after I leave this world. Maybe you feel the same way. Or maybe not. I intend, though, to have an orderly plan in case of the unexpected. That will allow my wife to focus on wearing black and mourning my loss for many years…nay decades to come.
Colin Ley is a Seattle estate planning attorney. He is also the co-founder of LayRoots along with his wife, Shreya.