I had made it through the introduction of the pep squad team, the girls' volleyball team, including tearful good-byes to their coaches and the entire seventh grade football team, complete with a long lecture on grades at a combined banquet recently when my daughter looked at me and said two words --Ninja out!
She didn't have to explain. Remember James Bond when he received his mission and had 90 seconds to react before it exploded? Well, just call me Bond, James, Bond. I shoved my camera in my bag, slyly slid on my jacket, nimbly lifted my 25-pound purse off the floor and stealthily made my way out the back door of the cafeteria, feeling proud that I timed it just as the applause for the team began. I looked back to smile at my daughter, but she was no where to be found.
Had I left a man, err, girl, behind? Just as I pondered whether to keep moving, she came running up to my side.
"I had to go back," she said.
"What? You went back? You know what we were taught. You don't even look back!"
"But I had to go back for this," she said, holding up her name tag.
"Well, yes," I conceded. "I guess you couldn't leave that behind."
"And I had to tell my friend good-bye," she said quickly.
Sigh. She has a long way to go before she'll be a 007 and me, too, for that matter.
Ninja out, you see, is a fine art. One we aren't taught in the South. I learned it via a friend from Germany who learned it via a friend from Ohio. Now, to be fair, men in the South have, perhaps, been doing it for years. We women, however, just never noticed because we were so busy saying good-bye for 45 minutes.
And that is what Ninja out is all about -- getting out quickly without good-byes, disappearing so that your host or hostess doesn't even realize you are gone. I know, it's against nature, but I have to say, it works.
My first introduction to it came at a party that was gathering steam around the same time as my children's (OK, my) bedtime.
I had just told our hostess that we needed to leave when she said, "Oh, wait right here. You haven't seen the photos from my cruise."
It was then that my friend turned to me and said, "Ninja out!"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Get your purse, get your things and do not look back. Ninja out!" she said as she grabbed me by the elbow.
"But ... but ... we can't just leave," I cried, every fiber of my being protesting.
"Do you want to be here another hour?"
I looked at my children's pitiful faces and thought about how early we needed to get up the next day.
"Then let's go. Ninja out!" she said in her delightful -- yet forceful -- German accent.
I hesitantly complied.
"But it's not the Southern way."
"We can text her tomorrow," she said as she climbed in her car parked strategically facing the road for a quick getaway.
We, on the other hand, weren't as smart or as quick.
"Wait, wait! Where are you going?" asked our poor hostess and a crowd of my friends at the door.
"Oh, I'm sorry. The kids were getting tired, so we thought we'd leave."
"But, Mama, I'm not tir .." my son started to say before I clamped his mouth.
"I'll call you. We really enjoyed it," I yelled out the door of the truck.
"But, wait, you must take some of these brownies home with you," she said.
"Well, OK," I said, reluctantly climbing out of the vehicle and making my way toward her into the kitchen.
"Oh, and look, I found those pictures. Come sit down one minute, and I'll show them to you."
"Well, the kids and my husband are out in the car."
"Oh, they'll be fine. It will just take a minute."
I turned to glance out the kitchen window and saw one annoyed husband, two tired children and the tail lights of my Ninja out master heading northbound down the road. When I re-emerged an hour and a half later, my son said, "Mama, when you try to Ninja out, you pay the consequences."
I think he had a point.