The party lingers...but are you first out the door?
First off: I am not a misanthrope. Really.
Still, I find the long-lingering party to be one I wish to escape from. It has nothing to do with the company being charming v. crashing bores, the quality of food and wine, etc. It has simply to do with time. I am sometimes the first to call it a night. I like leaving earlier than most.
If I am invited for drinks and dinner, at a certain point post-dessert, post-coffee-and-conversation, I will get internally fidgety and want to close out the evening, or at least my participation in said evening. Three to four hours is sufficient in my opinion, to have discourse with one's fellow humans (See the thread with a similar stance and discussion, esp. the OP's musing on time: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567036).
How to exit, gracefully? I tried after 5 hours of a potluck last weekend to say farewell, only to be met with detours of thought and the long Midwest-Scandinavian goodbye. Forty-five minutes later, we were on our way, very tired.
Is being tired an adequate excuse to exit a get-together? Is three or four hours a sufficient time, or should one take other cues (i.e., waiting for someone else to leave and then making one's goodbyes on those coattails?) Is time of evening relevant - say, at midnight should we all still be gathered, or is it 10 pm or 2 am? Do other attendees find the first-to-go rude?
I love my friends and family, but I have this niggling little responsibility called my "real life," along with all its schedules and responsibilities. I will happily join in on social events, but the open-ended quit time is a problem for those of us who do not want to be among the last to go, or be made to feel *guilt* upon leaving first.
What do you attendees think of the first to leave? Gauche? Wise? Somewhere in-between? Or are you among the ones making an early exit? So curious.
I go on gut. If I find myself feeling tired, It means that I am not that into being there anymore or something about the affair is less then engaging. Also, I have never felt bad about being the first one to leave. If I know I am tight on time, I say so upon arriving and that I would love to stay longer but I have to leave at X. whats bad is the person that never leaves.....but thats another thread.
I think it depends on the venue. I can't drink, so if parties involve going to bars, I am usually one of the first to leave. I don't think it bothers anyone since they know I'll just get really cranky if I stay longer.
As for home-based celebrations, I still think it's fine to be the first to leave if most of the celebrations are finished. I was friends with one couple that almost always bolted after an hour because the wife had a "headache," and that really began to annoy the hosts. They'd come for appetizers/dinner and she'd make her husband bail with her before dinner was even served. I find that behavior to be unacceptable. Usually even at home gatherings, I may leave first depending on the situation. I have one friend who calls me a Cinderella because I am rarely out after midnight.
I usually have to be one of the first to leave a gathering--even if I am enjoying myself. I have to be at work at 6 A.M. and I don't usually have weekends off. Even if I am off the next day, odds are I've been up since 3:30 A.M. and are extremely tired. If somebody asks me to stay longer, I just remind them of my schedule. I just thank the host for a lovely time and say my good-byes.
My schedule used to come in real handy before I was married as away to get out of bad dates. It still comes in handy with my family who's gatherings consist of everybody falling asleep on the couch. Even when I'm not working.