Friday, March 20, 2009

The Phenomenon and History of the Prolonged Goodbye

Did you know that the average American spends 3 years, 4 months, 15 days, 2 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds of his life giving prolonged goodbyes? Here is the end of a typical phone conversation between two well-acquainted friends.

“Alright, well I should go.”

“It was nice talking to you.”

“Yeah, you too.”

“Let’s do this again.”


“Alright, I’ll let you get back to it.”

“Sounds good.”

“Have a good night.”

“Will do.”

“Alright then.”




It doesn’t sound like much, but throughout the course of one’s life, these extra words add up.

In an age where constant phone communication is taken for granted, we as a people may have lost track of the phenomenon of the Prolonged Goodbye course through history. But, in fact, this has been happening for centuries. Here are some famous prolonged goodbyes from history that have since been edited to save paper in high school history books.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France (Farewell to the Old Guard, 1814)
I have sacrificed all of my interests to those of the country. I go, but you, my friends, will continue to serve France. … Do not regret my fate; if I have consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. Alright then, see you later.

Edward VIII, King of England - Abdication speech, 1936
I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility . . . without the help and support of the woman I love. Oh, that reminds me, the Queen sends her love. I’d be in trouble if I forgot.

Robert E. Lee, General of the Army of Northern Virginia -Farewell Address to his Soldiers, 1865
You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection. Oh hey, I forgot to tell you, I finally read that Petroleum V. Nasby book you were telling me about. Remind me to tell you about it later.

Douglas MacArthur, General - Farewell address to the U.S. Congress, 1951
And, like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Goodbye. … Huh? Oh, sorry, I thought you said something. Okay, bye.

And here are a couple of scenes from Hollywood that dared to show the Prolonged Goodbye on the big screen. Naturally squeamish censors made sure these ended up on the cutting room floor.

Casablanca, 1942

RICK: Isla, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Some day you'll understand that. Now, now. Here's looking at you kid.

ISLA: Here’s lookin’ at you, too.

RICK: Alright, well better get on that plane before it leaves.

ISLA: Yeah, probably should.

RICK: Enjoy the flight.

ISLA: Will do.

RICK: Try to get an aisle seat.

ISLA: Huh?

RICK: I said, get an aisle seat. More leg room.

ISLA: But I like the view.

RICK: Okay, a window seat is good, too.

ISLA: I’ll play it by ear.

RICK: Sounds good. Have a good one.

ISLA: Bye.

RICK: Bye.

E.T., 1982

E.T.: (after touching Elliot's forehead with his fingertip) I'll be right here.

ELLIOT: Me too.

E.T.: E.T. go home now.

ELLIOT: Alright, try to get an aisle seat?

E.T.: Huh?

ELLIOT: I said get an aisle seat. More neck room.

E.T.: OK. I’ll call you when we land.

ELLIOT: Sounds good. You might have to dial 011 before you dial my number.

E.T. pushes some buttons on the Speak ‘n’ Spell.

SPEAK ‘N’ SPELL: Zero. One. One. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure the call goes through.

(The table saw blade whirs in agreement.)

E.T.: Okay, I really gotta go now.

ELLIOT: Yep, take ‘er easy.

E.T.: You too.

ELLIOT: Okay. Bye now.

E.T.: Bye.

Alright, well that pretty much does it for this blog entry. Take care. We still on for me to blog to you next Friday? Yeah? Sound good? Okay, I’ll think of something to say between now and then. So… yeah… I guess that pretty much does it for this week. Have a good one. Oh, almost forgot! Lora says hi. She wasn’t able to be here to blog to you, but she really wanted to. She’s just busy with school and everything. So, anyway, have a good one. Enjoy the weather. It’s supposed to be nice this weekend. I think I heard it’ll be in the 50’s. Get out there and do something with your day! Alright, I really have to get back to work now. See you. Bye.


Crump said...

Thank you sir - I needed to laugh today

Nat Topping said...


WV: Anticies - the archaic plural of the word 'antic.'

Chris Othic said...

I just do the movie goodbye now where you just end the conversation and hang up.

"Okay, Mom, I'm sorry that Grandma is dead." [click]

"Okay, wife, I will not go out for drinks after work with the new girl who works on the 23rd floor." [click]

"Okay, telemarketer, you can suck my balls." [click]

"Okay, phone sex girl, I'm going to get some tissue." [click]

"Hello? Lora? Oh, hi Greg." [click] (also done in a disguised voice).

Mike Bauman said...

Your forgot George Washington's Farewell Address - "Suck my 30 dicks, bitches."

Joe Janes said...

Thanks, Mike. I was going to bring up the Washington quote, too.