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staircase wit as a means of evaluation.

i have slow reflexes.

impossibly late come-backs.

as a child i would practice long, drawn-out speeches in front of the mirror. my own what-i-should've-said lecture series. responses well-formulated weeks, months, years after the date of expiration.

i can be witty.
and let me be clear that i'm using this "sometimes" liberally. because more often than not, i am not.
witty, that is.
jokes, when thought of at the appropriate time, are mostly abandoned half-way through.
and come-backs come twenty minutes too late, leaving me wishing for the offender to do just that, come back.
come back. please.

there is a term for this.
a condition that i suffer from, if you will.
l'esprit de l'escalier. (it's french, which means i'm practically french, don't you know?)
now bear with me, most of the following info comes from wikipedia:
the term, coined by french philosopher diderot, roughly translates to staircase wit. what? you ask. fear not, i'll let diderot explain: a sensitive man like me, overwhelmed by the argument leveled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he gets to] the bottom of the stairs.
staircase wit?
get it?!
isn't it brilliant, isn't it just absolutely perfect?

so i met this guy. and on that first night l'esprit de l'escalier fled my "sensitive soul" and my remarks were witty and quick and cute (might i add cute?).
at least, this is how i remember it. do me a favor, don't ask him, he might see it all a wee bit differently and i don't want to burst the bubble just yet, okay?

and this is how i knew.
that i might just like him.
diminished esprit.
or the flee of l'esprit, if you will. (credit to kate for this).

a very good sign.


communikate. said...


hooray for the flee of the l'esprit de l'escalier!!

Meg Fee said...

the flee of l'esprit--how did i not think of that? i'm adding it in...credit to you of course!

Emily Anne said...

Ohh a post after my own heart. I'm a sufferer of l'esprit de l'escalier too. The minute the opportunity is gone, I have a perfect response. And then I dwell, elaborating my answer for some unknown reason... in case I am ever put in the exact same position again, perhaps?!

Congratulations, dear, on a triumph over l'esprit! It is something to be celebrated.xo

Jalene said...

brilliant! i'm so excited to hear more!!

Grilled Cheese said...

Love it.

Happens to me all the time.

Tanusree said...

love the post !!

Daniella said...

Everything you write is so refreshing and your posts are always so well timed for my life.

Basically, if it is not too creepy to say, I sometimes thing you are writing what I am thinking, feeling, and about how I am acting.

Which is good because I cannot write and it sounds much better coming from you :)

Daniella said...

I must also say: The in-front-of-mirror speeches and the on-the-metro-in-my-head speeches, well, they sting.

Those speeches are always SO good.

Meg Fee said...

daniella, they ARE always SO GOOD, aren't they?!

Micaela said...

BRILLIANT! i'm all kinds of exited for this.

BRILLIANT for the "staircase wit." what a cunning name.

"and this is how i knew.
that i might just like him."

oh i'm absolutely excited about this here post :)

i wish you would have voiced it! i can imagine your a-ha moment in actual speech.


Courtney said...

I did the mirror speeches too! In fact, I still do, except they're usually just my lips moving with no sound coming out so my family doesn't overhear and think I've gone mad. They probably already think that t

Late comebacks, big problem.

I must be plagued with l'esprit de l'escalier as well, I'm so glad I now have I diagnosis to go with the symptoms!

And Meg- the fact that you broke the curse and were witty and wonderful must mean something! I hope he adored you as much as your readers do : ) Hooray for new crushes!

kathleen said...

VERY good sign! LOVE it!

gui said...

I'm still in bed, hating the rain outside, going from a blog to another and here's yours. It's just lovely. And more of l'esprit de l'escalier please :)

Kimberley said...

Good for you both for the boy and the the flee of l'esprit he invoked. Looking forward to reading more :)

laura marie said...

i studied french forever and when my teacher taught us this phrase one random day, i started writing it all over the place because i just LOVED it! such a great post :)

Michal said...

When a boy causes l'esprit de l'escalier, it means you may just like him.

When a boy causes you to abandon l'esprit de l'escalier, it means you may just love him.

Sara said...

Freakin' weekend, I'm so glad there's a name for this.

I'm not gonna lie, I can be pretty damn witty when I'm in full flirt.

However, if I'm in an argument or confrontation of any kind, I lock up like Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail."

Randi Lee said...

But, it's like 'You've got Mail' ... when you are witty and you say things at exactly the right time, you some times walk away wishing you hadn't...

Brittan said...

they ARE always so good, those rehearsed come backs. i've always done that. i can still remember a speech i wanted to give this mean girl when i was 12. i so wish i'd been able to give it. don't you wish you could write all of your comebacks and witty comments to people? saying it in the moment is so much harder. how exciting that you had the flee of l'esprit with the boy! a very good sign indeed.

Hanako66 said...

i'm pretty sure that i just squealed a little:)