In my new book Finding Mr. Brightside -- click here for a chance to win a copy and a $25 Amazon.com gift card -- Juliette is incredibly fluent in this kind of French ... French exits, that is. A.k.a, leaving without saying goodbye to anyone. Yes, because she doesn't want to be wherever she is ever, but also out of respect for the fun that others seem to be having despite the brutal circumstances.
Between office parties and family gatherings, you may find yourself in a similar panic-button situation this holiday season. By no means am I endorsing such disappearing acts, but it's important to be realistic about the likelihood you'll want to perform one, preferably without a trace.
Here's how to plot the perfect French Exit for the holidays:
1. Dress in code -- forgo your festive frock for camouflage couture. When selecting your outfit for the evening, choose a beta getup that will blend in with the wall paint of the place you're going.
2. Leave your personal belongings in the car. You don't need your inflatable-looking puffy coat for the 2-second walk to the front door! Unless you want to go back the next day to explain to the hosts why you left (it). It's important to travel lightly when plotting a future silent au revoir.
3. Contain your exposure to others who may want to keep track of your whereabouts. Greet only the people you have to -- e.g., the hosts -- and then graciously survey the premises for all available exits. Maybe grab a carrot stick to be used as an "I'm all settled in now!" prop while you admire the craftsmanship of the doors.
4. Where's the garage? If you're trapped inside someone's lovely home, is there a back door leading to the garage and out into the night? Say hello to your best bet. Garages are great because you can claim to be looking for someone besides your cab driver (the host) or something (trash can) if a fellow partygoer happens to catch you in the act.
5. If you came to the party with a social butterfly type, mistake! You may need to leave them behind, especially if they're having a weirdly good time. When it's time to go elsewhere, it's every Frenchman and Frenchwoman for himself. They shouldn't be surprised you've adopted this mentality unless they're a complete stranger.
6. If you came to the party with a fellow antisocialite, you're a genius. But hopefully you two thought of an EXIT! word beforehand. Something mysterious that still gets the point across. Suggestions: Disappearance. Dissipation. Disengagement. D words that evoke a comforting sense of future departure are always perfect.
7. If you've made it outside without anyone spotting you, great, but there's actually a late arrival who's just pulling in! If they're familiar with the outline of your face in the darkness, whip out your cell phone and explain that you've stepped out to make a call and will be right in. Act like you really don't want to make the call but it's serious enough that you don't have time to catch up because the fake person you're calling has to be dealt with immediately.
8. Send an apology text the next day. One in which you refuse to make excuses -- so selfless of you, plus you don't really have any -- and promise to stay longer than 25 minutes next time.
Have any inspirational French exit success stories of your own? Failures, then? Share them in the Comments section!