French Exit

It’s fun to leave without saying goodbye. It’s a quirky thing to do and I’m sure it makes me stand out as a unique and whimsical and interesting character. As an avid practitioner, it comes with some precautionary guidance:

To French Exit a party or social event:
Intriguing, detached, sustains mystery

To French Exit an appointment, shop or place of work:
Improper, contrarian, potential legal repercussions

This isn’t a confession, by the way. You’ll be relieved to know I announced my recent departure with all proper contractual formality.

I have conducted some research, the findings hereof: the Dutch call it taking de rattentaxi (‘the rat’s taxi’). Being the harbingers of social calamity par excellence, I would personally love to be cultivating this powerful sense of rodent in my wake.

In virtually every other language, one nationality dominates: ‘leaving English style’. This strikes me as completely misleading.

For a place of gratuitous due process and pomp (regulatory, ceremonial, royal), a departure is never less than prolonged. I just don’t think I, the English subject, deserve such an accolade.

I said goodbye to my cat recently too. She’s not dead (fortunately), she’s just moved to Cumbria. And, if I’m being really honest, she was never my cat—we were just cohabitants of the same domestic space for a brief (blissful!) period. I did say goodbye, but I suppose you can’t ever really say goodbye for some obvious, inter-species reasons. As far as I can tell, at least—that’s a question for another time.

But this is all beside the point—few goodbyes are permanent anyway. The au revoirs and the hasta mañanas and the до свиданияs all denying the relief of permanence. It’s just a temporary pause of association, a brief respite before our imminent reunion. What exactly are we all holding onto anyway?

Somewhere in that vast, subterranean sewer-metropolis, there’s a little rat hailing a black cab. He hopes there won’t be a surcharge.