It happened again last week. Minutes after hanging up with Rochelle my phone rang:

“I was still talking,” the voice, said. “I didn’t know you weren’t there.”
“Oh,” (I was laughing), “Thought we were done.”
“BRUCE,” she declared, “No one said goodbye. I was telling you a story. What part didn’t you hear?”
(More laughter).

It must be me, though. Stacy’s complained for years.

“You never say goodbye, Dad. It’s rude. You’re so polite in some ways, but…”
“I’m sorry,” I’ll tell her. “You said ‘goodbye’. I figured that was it.”
“But YOU didn’t say it. You need to say it too.”
“I thought it was implied. I’m sorry.”

It’s my issue, I suppose. Looking back, goodbyes have never been my strong suit…

I picture the 70’s. Dad and Harriet lived on Prince George in Columbus—a second-story garden apartment. The Jersey Girl and I are heading home to Cleveland and the Old Man is standing on the top step, staring out as if he was watching Magellan set sail. From behind the wheel I can’t let go; I’m looking back, not quite ready to leave his line of sight. It was a fear back then—that I’d never see him again. She was probably urging “Look where you’re going” (and rightfully so). I was driving slowly, though, and didn’t want to say goodbye.

Involuntary manifestation of  abandonment issues (first set in motion by the Colavito trade)?  Thank you, Dr. Crane.

Grandma Bogart lived to 98 or 99. No one really knows; her birth certificate says she was born “the year of the big storm”. She survived our dad, though, and in her later years I’d call her two, maybe three nights per week. She loved it (of course) and I suppose it sustained my connection to The Old Man.

“Goodbye,” she’d say each evening.
“No, Grandma…good night.”
(It became our ritual).

Not that I never say “Goodbye”. There’s a finality to the phrase, however, and I don’t like it. With this in mind, Hal and I’ve crafted a warm, wonderful way to end our talks.

“Have a good one,” he says.
“Thank you very much,” I respond.
Or visa versa….

How is that farewell? (one might ask). What is the genesis of such colloquy? The answer, like so many regimens of our clan, may be traced to family neurosis. Aunt Helen, you see, abhors both expressions.

“Why,” she exasperates, “Say ‘Have a good one’”? A good what? One must say ‘Have a good day’ if that is one’s wish.”

Likewise, she deplores the courtesy “thank you”. Long ago we leaving Barri Lee Cleaners when I had the audicity to acknowledge the clerk. “Thank you very much,” I said. The lady, moments later in the car, admonished me. Why, she demanded to know, would I thank someone who was merely doing his job? Years later, H and I regularly honor her idiocy, bidding adieu with her words. Note further that for some time now our good friend Stuart, so taken by the homage to our aunt, concludes our talks with the same two lines. “Have a good one,” he’ll urge.

Stu, Hal and I aren’t the only ones with trademark exits. My favorites, in fact are Bobby (for swagger),and Meredith (for speed). “Call me”, says Snyder, (never “I’ll call you). And my daughter-in-law? She’s coined her own three-syllable word: “OKBye”. Whish———————and she’s gone. Swagger, speed….it matters not; We understand each other.

All of which brings me back to Rochelle and Stacy. Each knows me—really knows me. You’d think then, that they’d understand, that they’d get it: It’s not that I’m being rude; I’m really not. It’s just, though, that I don’t want to say Goodbye.


  1. Aunt Helen says:

    I don’t get it either.

    (And for that matter, I’m sure that my good friend Al Bell wouldn’t have “gotten” it either.)

    Normal people say “goodbye” when they end a telephone conversation.

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