There’s a French phrase, l’espirit de l’escalier. Loosely translated, it’s that really annoying feeling when you come up with THE PERFECT COMEBACK just after it’s acceptable to respond with anything other than “eat me.” I have a lot of experience with this phenomenon, but for me, it goes beyond just a witty comeback. We’ve all played conversations in our heads where you have the perfect phrase, perfect insult, perfect compliment, perfect metaphor. We practice how to break bad news, good news, feelings, events, or anything else that requires an actual conversation, rather than a text. Sadly, we’re the only ones inside our own heads, and sometimes the subjects in real life don’t say exactly what they’re supposed to and your great point is moot.
My lovely friend M gave me a small moleskin for Christmas, which I’ve carried around everywhere since. This little notebook I thought I’d barely use (sorry M…) is rapidly filling up with ideas for my apartment, inspirational quotes from songs, people, places, observations about New York I don’t ever want to let go, and sometimes I just doodle, losing myself in pen on page just for the sake of it.
Lately, I’ve started a “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” list of things I wish I’d said when I had the chance, some serious, others silly. Some of these would have been poor decisions to say out loud at the time, others probably would have cleared up a few questions. I’m making a conscious effort to stop dwelling on the past, so I can move forward in all aspects of this crazy life, and as part of that, I want to release these into the world for everyone, rather than just for me. Without further ado, I give you:
I actually meant:
- Honestly, even if you looked fat, I’m more distracted by your VPL (ed note: visible panty line. There is never an excuse for this)
- I didn’t bring that check on purpose, I don’t have the money to pay you back right now because I’m 25 and super broke.
- I’d like a salad and three desserts please.
- Of course I was embarrassed when I fell on the bar, I still have a bruise on my ass from that.
- Thanks for the confidence boost. It makes me feel so much better that I’ll “find someone else in two minutes!” instead of taking a few months to get reacquainted with myself.
- I was gone from my desk for five minutes. Unless you’re actually on fire, it’s absolutely not okay that you left me three voicemails.
- Bye, thanks again for hosting this! By the way, I’m taking the bottle of wine I brought that we didn’t drink because I paid for it, and you’re the one who called it a night.
- I can’t come in today, I’ve got an interview for a job I might really like.
- I cried for a long time after you sent me those cards. I can’t ever thank you enough for those.
- I’m so glad you still want to be friends. Losing y’all would have made everything infinitely worse.
- I like you. There I said it. Can you just ask me on a real date already?
- It still hurts me that you only said “okay” and couldn’t even look me in the eye.
- I love you.
So let’s hear some of yours. What would be at the top of your l’espirit de l’escalier list?