St. Louisans are good party goers. But we’re really bad party leavers.
It takes at least half an hour to get away from a St. Louis party.
It’s difficult for outsiders to understand this. My husband Don is from Marshalltown, Iowa, and they do things differently up north. When Don leaves a party, he says good-bye and walks out the door.
That is northern efficiency. It’s also shocking behavior by our standards.
St. Louisans do it differently. First, we have to find the host and hostess, thank them for the wonderful party, and say goodbye.
Then we have to find our coat. Next, we have to find the door, which means we stop to say good-bye to everyone we meet on the way. It would be rude if we didn’t ask after their kids, their spouses, and their parents, plus any special projects. (“How is the fund-raiser going?” “Do you like your new job?”)
We tell them we must get together soon, even if we don’t mean it. It’s only polite.
We may collect a few more party invitations on the way, but eventually we make it out the door.
Outsiders think we’re wasting time.
Insiders know this is really the best part of the party. Everyone has had a chance to relax and they’re more likely to tell you the juiciest gossip. It doesn’t really count because you’re leaving.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Elaine Viets is a freelance writer.