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Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 9:23 am

This is French for "staircase wit." It refers to when someone says something witty to you, and you don't think of the perfect comeback until it is too late.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27esprit_de_l%27escalier

Anyway, I feel like I constantly experience this. Every time someone surprises me with an unexpected topic that I never prepared for, I get stuck either saying nothing or giving bland/literal responses while I'm processing what I just heard and how to respond to it. It happens frequently because I am terrible at unscripted interactions. I've built up enough of a "phrase bank" / mental database of responses that I can usually respond to whatever I hear, but I can't maintain that kind of thing very long.

It's easier in asynchronous communication (forum posts, e-mail) than it is in real time (chat, face to face). If I could get away with using a text-speech device instead of talking, and not giving in to my instinct to write novellas as a response, I could probably handle conversation much more fluently.

This is one of the reasons I end up interacting with people online by preference. If I have a choice, I would much prefer to not have to talk to people.



ediself
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06 Dec 2011, 10:25 am

Haha so funny that I learn about a french expression on an english-speaking forum!! When I read the title I thought it was about a ghost or something haunting your staircase...But it makes total sense now : you close the door, start going down the stairs and bam, the witty comeback hits you...
It happens to me a lot. I don't know that there's any solution to it though, but i'm sure I could come up with some awesome responses in writing that are unavailable to my brain in spoken form....



Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 10:32 am

Yeah, I have no solutions, and I know it happens to most people. I just feel like I sort of live in a haze of it.



rgdmn
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06 Dec 2011, 10:46 am

Absolutely. I feel like I can only have meaningful conversations in front of a keyboard. I am not sure if it was my inability to carry out a conversation in real-time that caused me to fall back on the Internet, or if my overreliance on the Internet has caused my conversation skills to atrophy. Probably both. I always feel pressure to say things that are non-stupid/inane in actual conversations, which naturally only makes it worse.



dianthus
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06 Dec 2011, 4:11 pm

Verdandi wrote:
This is French for "staircase wit." It refers to when someone says something witty to you, and you don't think of the perfect comeback until it is too late.


What's it called when someone says something shitty to you, and you don't think of a comeback until it is too late?



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06 Dec 2011, 6:00 pm

It happens to me a lot, too.



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06 Dec 2011, 6:05 pm

I am exceptionally talented at thinking of something clever that I should have said or done seconds/minutes/days/weeks/months later.


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Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 6:58 pm

dianthus wrote:
Verdandi wrote:
This is French for "staircase wit." It refers to when someone says something witty to you, and you don't think of the perfect comeback until it is too late.


What's it called when someone says something shitty to you, and you don't think of a comeback until it is too late?


L'esprit de l'escalier.



Burnbridge
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06 Dec 2011, 7:14 pm

So weird, Verdandi. I was just reading a Cracked article yesterday ... it was like "5 awesome words in other languages that english doesn't have a word for" and this was one of them...


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Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 7:20 pm

Interesting! I don't remember where I came across the phrase, but I am sure it wasn't Cracked. :)



Tuttle
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06 Dec 2011, 9:53 pm

That is a really useful word.

When asked if it bothers my boyfriend that I prefer typing to communicate, I respond that he does as well. This response is the thing that has caused me to be asked most often if he's also on the spectrum. It seems to be a rather common preference.



Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 10:10 pm

Yeah, I've come across it frequently.

I know there are people here who have talked about finding written communication more difficult than spoken, too.



lovemywes
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06 Dec 2011, 10:17 pm

i can definitely say this is an NT thing also, it bridges the spectrum :)



Verdandi
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06 Dec 2011, 10:25 pm

lovemywes wrote:
i can definitely say this is an NT thing also, it bridges the spectrum :)


Right. I mean an NT coined the phrase. It's a very common experience. It also happens to describe what talking to anyone at any time is for me. Not just witty replies, but often having any reply at all. When I get stuck it's sometimes easy for me to get stuck agreeing with things I wouldn't otherwise agree with because I have nothing prepared.



Burnbridge
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06 Dec 2011, 11:08 pm

I wonder if the french have a term for "spirit of the escalator" ... when you realize a shoe is untied, and the dangling end has slipped into the OH CRAP!?!


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hyperlexian
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07 Dec 2011, 12:10 am

in canada we sometimes call it "the wisdom of the stairs"


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