L’esprit de l’escalier is a French term used in English for thinking of the perfect reply too late. I think it is mostly considered to be a witty or clever retort that would finish of a conversational or indeed confrontational encounter more perfectly.
Where is the handy french term for when you/ I, have thought of the perfect retort and delivered it leaving the other person stunned and perhaps uncomfortable. A linguistic victory certainly but not always kind.
Kindness at the end of a conversation is another of those moments with no useful term. Hugely important during difficult conversations when serious, possibly hurtful and important points need to be conveyed. If there is love, care, affection or even just integririty that must be built into that conversation the parting words need to be perfectly judged if the conversation is to be effective rather than harmful. A lifetime of harm can be caused without the right conversational ending included. If only these things could be straightforward.
The whole business of ‘stair case wit’ which I have expanded to Staircase Wisdom is chronically complicated and acutely regrettable. I have a huge dusty box in my personal archive of conversations that were not perfect because I got the end wrong.
The trouble is, unlike this collection of staircases, conversation with another is never black and white, and it can be complicated and unpredictable. The conversations in my head always go much better to plan.
The link below takes you to a less personal consideration of L’esprit de l’escalier. I hope that is the perfect ending.
L’esprit de l’escalier
Here is a less than perfect ending , the steps that I imagine take me to my store of archived badly finished conversations. I don’t imagine I’m ever going to be diplomatic or wise enough not to need to store badly finished conversations in an imagined room beyond these stairs any time soon. These steps will continue to be well worn, a little bit smelly and unloved until I can no longer engage in meaningful conversation.