I entertain a lot which means I stay up drinking and talking with people well past the hour when I should be in bed.
Even on “school nights” when The Husband and I swear a blood oath to each other that we will be finished by a very specific and agreed upon time, that time will come and go, our guests somehow failing to read our minds and The Husband and I finding the only words that come out of our mouths isn’t, “Well, we should be going to sleep,” but rather, “Who wants another bottle of wine?”
I don’t blame our guests: we’ve reciprocated at plenty of other peoples’ homes. One minute it’s 9:30 and you’re about to eat dessert, the next thing you know it’s quarter to two, you’re on your 5th bottle of Sangiovese and you make a mad dash for the door, apologizing profusely for being THOSE people and hoping THESE people still want to be your friends when they wake up later this morning.
Conversely there are times when I’m so afraid of that happening that I will stand up suddenly and announce to The Husband in front of everyone: “We need to go.” That’s often no less awkward.
There is a time to stay up late with friends, eating and drinking fabulous things and putting the world to rights. However, there are times in life when we have to put the brakes on an evening and end it sensibly. And yet, every morning after I fail to, as I curse myself, and my headache, and the luggage under my eyes, I wonder why I couldn’t. Why couldn’t I just see clearly enough to see my way to saying, “This has been wonderful, but I’m afraid we have an early morning?”
Part of the reason is simple: I don’t like a good time to end. This is why I don’t do cocaine. But it’s no reason to show up for work hungover or sleep deprived.
…Or is it? I’m just saying life is short, get it while you can, and fuck work anyway, works sucks.
But setting aside my emotional immaturity, fear of dying, and Matthew McConaughey-esque life philosophy for the moment, “This has been wonderful, but I’m afraid we have an early morning,” seems a little stodgy, like something uttered in a BBC drama where a cop’s wife has invited his partner for dinner. (I watch a lot of BBC cop dramas and that happens a lot.) In part it’s the fear that this evening, which has been unfolding genuinely for the last couple of hours has now become stunted and choreographed, rather than letting it come to its natural end. So few things in life happen naturally and spontaneously once you’re an adult. Having a night that goes on too long because everyone is having too good of a time to pay attention otherwise, is one of the few examples of living in the moment we have left. And as you know, Buddhists say living in the moment is very good for you.
Nevertheless, sometimes you do need to put the brakes on rather than coasting to a stop and the biggest reason I can’t do it in these circumstances is because I simply can’t think of what to say. Oh sure, the next day while staring at my chalky, reapered complexion in the mirror it all seems so simple. But the night before, I choke. I can’t think of how to say, “Get the fuck out,” in a way that is polite and yet also doesn’t sound like Masterpiece Theatre.
So here’s a couple of tips that I’ve come up with that you can refer back to when you can’t think of what to do and you can pop off to loo and take a look at your mobile. (I watch a lot of BBC)
- Stop serving liquor
I know this may seem painfully obvious, but if you stop opening up bottles and refilling glasses your smart friends will eventually get the hint and your friends with a drinking problem will leave even sooner, becoming bored with you now that they’re sobering up.
- Ask anyone if they’d like coffee or tea
Yes, this is a wee bit BBC, but it also is a good way to signify the end of the evening. And once people have had dinner, dessert and coffee they’ll realize there’s nothing left in your house for them to possibly consume, unless they want to hang around until morning and eat breakfast.
- Tell them, “This has been wonderful, but I’m afraid we have an early morning.”
It’s direct and more importantly, it’s the truth. And you don’t have to say it like that. Put it in your own words. “You fuckers are going to kill me. I’m having a great time but I’m going to hate you for it in the morning.” Practice in your head so you remember after 3 bottles of Bordeaux.
And remind yourself that while a fabulous night might be ending early, sometimes it’s necessary to know when to fold them, so you can live to indulge another day.