I have heard it referred to as the Irish Exit. Some call it the French Goodbye. Before the term became more widely associated with ending a relationship by ceasing all communication, the act was also known as ghosting.
Whatever you call it, it basically just means leaving the social gathering you’re attending without letting anyone know you’re leaving.
I call the act “pulling a Batman,” or simply “Batmanning,” after the preferred means by which the caped crusader usually ends his interactions with Commissioner Gordon.
The well-intentioned boss of Gotham’s police will turn around mid-sentence to find that the costumed crime fighter has simply vanished. And I’m here to tell you that we could all stand to be a little bit more like Batman.
My Bruce Wayne impression realistically probably started as something of a defence mechanism. In high school and most of university I was typically outweighed by most of my best friends by about 20 pounds, who were almost always one or two beverages — or some unit of measurement of another substance — ahead of where I was at on a Friday evening, and they were almost always exhorting me to keep up. An ability to disappear, quietly and safely, in order to avoid calls for another round or a journey down a sloppy rabbit hole, was for many years really more about basic survival.
But after years of knowing just the right time to pull the chute on an evening of debauchery, I have learned that the act has far more benefits than simply avoiding alcohol poisoning, a bar fight, a regrettable romantic dalliance, or an ill-informed Kings Crown nachos from Sneaky Dees: Leaving the party without saying goodbye is awesome.
It’s freeing and so simple. At the very moment you realize you no longer want to be somewhere, you just leave. It’s amazing.
By way of evidence, first, consider the inverse in this familiar setting: You are out with friends and you are mildly to severely intoxicated. For whatever reason, you have decided that you have had enough for the evening. You now have to make your way through a crowd of people around whom you have literally just realized you no longer want to be, and they are all now going to make you feel shitty for your decision to leave them. Your best friends will encourage you to stick around. That long-time acquaintance you haven’t seen in a year will implore you to hang out for just one more beer. You are obliged to say goodnight to/have one more shot with the birthday girl/bachelor/recently released convict whose party this is.
You will inevitably be bombarded with comments like “Ah man. You’re leaving?” or “Don’t leave! We never hang out!” or even “We’ve got a ton of booze back at Sully’s and we’re going to head there after the bar to do drugs and play Mario Kart!”
All just dreadful, dreadful things to process when you’ve got a gut full of booze and just want to get the fuck out of somewhere. It’s like a terrible nightmare gauntlet of guilt, whiskey breath, and FOMO.
Just. Fucking. Batman.
Say nothing to anyone, grab your jacket, and walk out the nearest exit.
Because here is what I have learned in over 20 years of pulling my Dark Knight routine: There is virtually never any consequence to bailing. There are no earth-shattering revelations at the end of the night. There are no hurt feelings for your social faux pas. The birthday girl was going to end up with her hair in a toilet-y soup of tequila and her own cake regardless of whether or not you were there.
And all those friends who would almost certainly give you shit if you told them you were leaving a night of socially-lubricated mirth? They won’t even notice you’re gone. The next day someone might ask “what happened to you last night?” but no one ever ends a friendship because you left before things got crazy.
And if you’re worried about missing out by leaving the party early, I can tell you with near certainty, you are not. Because when you decide to Batman, you’re not ducking out at the height of the party, music blasting, nothing-but-potential, fun part of the night. No. For the most part you’re only missing out on the sad, lights-on-last-call realities of the end of the night; the desperate end of night hook-up hours, the cold lonely battle wait for an Uber hours, or maybe the half-a-warm-post-bar-beer-that-you’ll-leave-unfinished-on-an-acquaintance’s-marijuana-littered-coffee-table hours. Good riddance.
I’d wager there are perhaps two occasions in roughly two decades of Batmanning where I missed what sound like some vaguely amusing times–and I would argue that I probably wouldn’t remember them if I had decided to stick around. Instead, I traded in rolling the dice for a few more good hours for two decades of waking up a little more clearly, a little less nauseous, and probably with a little more dignity intact.
So the next time you’re out, and you feel like maybe the party is past its prime and that you might be happier in comfortable clothes in your own bed, consider that feeling your own inner Bat Signal, and heed the call.
You too can be Batman.