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The Relative Merits of the Irish Goodbye

Posted: 06/10/10 11:41 AM ET

The Irish are, fairly or unfairly, known for loving three things: fightin', bonin' and drinkin'. The lads and lasses of the Emerald Isle rarely even put up a fight when thusly characterized, lest we find them pugnacious.* To illustrate those points: we call a broken bottle an "Irish Switchblade," siblings born in the same year are "Irish Twins" and a vicious hangover is the "Irish Flu." The good, fair people of Erin have one more namesake: the "Irish Goodbye" (henceforth to be called the IGB). An IGB involves leaving a gathering, perhaps at a pub, bar or boozing hole, without so much as a "good day, boyo" to your compatriots.

The IGB is also a powerful relationship technique. The move goes like this: Person A is sick of dating Person B, perhaps through no real fault of Person B's (as most people would agree Person B is pretty alright). Person A decides to save a headache and an explanation by just picking up stakes and making a beeline for greener grasses. Person B is a little confused by the sudden lack of contact given that Person B committed no faux pas and thought Person A had a reasonably good time to-date. Person B attempts contact with some innocuous inquiry and waits to hear back (cue spinning clock jump cut). Person B, not trusting modern technology, tries again one to three times. Person A does not stray from the plan. Person B eventually is struck by a rogue beam of golden sunshine, mentally hears some iteration of Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt's catchphrase, nods once and continues life. Easy peasy George and Weezie.

Frankly, the IGB saves an awkward conversation, an even more awkward face-to-face meeting or a most awkward "Dear Person B" letter. Everyone's a winner because no one has to hear or say, "it's not you, it's me," "I'm just terribly busy right now" or "for some reason, I just want to punch your face in." Unfortunately, it's not always that Simple, Jack. Some people can't take a hint (though it should be noted that it takes way more energy to call, text or send a letter than it does to ignore all of them). Sometimes Persons A and B may bump into each other inadvertently and have a painful moment of recognition. But sometimes, the IGB is wickedly misused.

The IGB is a perfect way to give a relationship the Heisman if no downtown fluids have been exchanged, no items of value, sentimental or otherwise, have been left at Person A's domicile by Person B** or that relationship has gotten serious, for real. Obviously, it's easy to judge when you've gotten it on (though the definitions "it" and "on" vary from Zip Code) or possess something important to the other party (like your heart). Nailing down when that friendship went from casual to formal is a tricky.

Has "I love you" been said and reciprocated?*** Has a Facebook relationship status been altered? Has one party nursed the other to health during a period of convalescence? Has a parent been introduced? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," "yep" or "uh-huh," you're in a real relationship and the IGB is no good for you.

I've managed to wind up on both ends of the IGB, and maybe this is a dude thing, but it's really for the best. If I'm Person B and Person A decides to cut bait, rather than continue fishing from an evidently fished-out fishing hole, by just picking up anchor and motoring to fishier pastures, then I'm a little bummed because it sucks when someone isn't into you. Frankly, I'm rarely in the mood for something awkward unless I'm a third party observer or Steve Carell is involved. I'm probably not going to go a-changing even if the criticism is constructive. And I'd rather fade away than lie to some gal, break down what's wrong with her or act like a total dingus until she dumps me.

Though a cooling off period of no contact, a Brady Bill of relationships, is recommended after every breakup, be careful using the IGB in anything but the newest dalliances. Else your myopic Irish Goodbye may get you a lapful of Irish Coffee, at least from karma.

*Note: Were whiskey not invented, we'd all be speaking Gaelic now and no one would snicker when you said "Gaelic" aloud.

**Note: Very few items are worth attempting to recover when on either side of an IGB but let's not get the authorities involved.

***Note: A wickedly premature, unreturned "I love you" is a good cause for an IGB.

 

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