The setting: A wonderful evening with friends. Great conversation, delicious food, lots of fun. There is a sudden lull in the conversation. Awkward glances are exchanged. You look at your wristwatch and wonder, “Have I stayed too long?”
How do we know when it’s time to leave?
It’s hard to decide at times. It’s doubly difficult when you are part of a couple.
“I wished we could have stayed longer. That was fun.”
“We didn’t have to leave. I thought you wanted to leave.”
“No, you were giving me the signal.”
“I didn’t give any signal.”
“You did. You scratched your nose and then you stretched your arms out wide.”
“I had an itchy nose. I don’t know why I stretched. I don’t remember doing that.”
I think the host should save us all a lot of confusion and always include the departure time in the invitation:
“Come over tonight and we’ll play cards. Leave before 8:00, because that’s when my husband comes off his shift at work. He hates coming home when you’re here. He’s tired and wants to sit around in his boxer shorts.”
For some people, receiving an invitation like that might sting a little. Personally, I think it would take the pressure off.
Think of a child’s party invitation – the start and end time are always clearly written in bold letters. No sane parent is going to extend an invitation to a dozen first graders to eat cake, ice cream, and get ramped up on buckets of piñata candy without making sure the parents know the exact time to return for their sugar crazed offspring. In case anyone missed it, the hosting parents are always sure to restate the end time clearly as the guests arrive.
“We’re so happy Stevie could come today! Don’t forget – the party ends EXACTLY at 3:00. Arrive any later than that and you can pick him up from the local volunteer fire department because I’m definitely not keeping him here.”
But we are adults, and we don’t interact with each other that way.
All I’m saying is – maybe we should.