Here’s a little social shortcut I hadn’t experienced before. Last night we attended a dinner party of four or five couples. It was nice enough: good food, good wine, relatively interesting conversation. Let’s just say I’ve undergone worse. Then, at about 9:30 p.m., our hostess left the room and returned with a little Asian gong, which she rang a couple of times. “This indicates it’s time for everyone to go home,” she said.
We laughed, and then realized that although she was smiling, she wasn’t kidding. It really was time for everyone to go home. So we all got up and headed for the door, determined to remain convivial. Because of the wine, I suppose it was less awkward than it might have been.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how one determines when the party is over. For me, the best cue is when the host or hostess first yawns. Alternatively, if a fistfight breaks out anywhere on the premises or if the authorities are summoned, that’s another indication that it’s time to find the car keys. But I’ve never known anyone to stand up and formally announce that you must be going. Our hostess is British, so maybe it’s a cultural thing.
And maybe it’s as good a way as any. Maybe the direct approach is best. Maybe I should go gong shopping.