Goodbye is one of the greatest words there is, because it is filled with “fuck this” and “fuck you”, and “fuck, no”.
The “good” of “goodbye” is a classic misdirection. It adds a thin shell of civility to the brutal finality of it. The “good” is like the skin of a Skittle – bright, brittle, and sweet. And then you bite into it and you crack your teeth off on this unyielding nugget of never again.
The most awesome trope in action movies is NOT the “punch you through a window” or the “crack wise and then shoot you in your face” or the “oh, thank goodness the unstoppable killing machine is dead after our protracted fight. I shall now turn my back on him SO HE CAN SUDDENLY SIT UP OH MY GOD HOW UNEXPECTED!!!” None of these.
The most uncontestedly always awesome action movie standby is the SLOW MOTION WALK AWAY FROM THE BUILDING THAT ERUPTS IN A FIREBALL NINE STORIES HIGH AND I DO NOT EVEN FLINCH. It is the BIG GOODBYE.
The reason that this trope is a can’t-fail head butt of awesomeness is that everyone of us, at some point in our lives – even if only for an instant – has wanted to say the BIG GOODBYE. The TOWERING ORB OF FIRE GOODBYE.
“Hello” is tentative and skittish. “Hello” is a prairie dog or a meerkat – it peers out of its hole in the ground with a pleading look that wants you to fucking like it.
“Goodbye” doesn’t give a fuck if you like it. It’s done with you. You are dead to it.
“Hello” is voluntary, “Hello” is discretionary. “Goodbye” is non-negotiable.
“Hello” is a Yield sign. “Goodbye” says Stop.
“Hello” is an acorn. “Goodbye” is an axe.
“Hello” is a ribbon-cutting. “Goodbye’ is the tornado that rips your store to rubble.
“Hello” is a maggot. “Goodbye” is a flyswatter.
“Hello” is a kiss. “Goodbye” is a condom.
“Hello” is “Mother, May I?” “Goodbye” is “Hit the bricks, Shit Heel.”
“Hello” is a letter to the editor. “Goodbye” is a bullet.
I could go on.
You get my drift. “Hello” is soft and yielding and gutless. “Hello” is damp and recessive and smooooooooth as a fucking Ken doll.
“Hello” hopes like heck that you’ll like it and that you guys can sit together in a window seat and have caffeine-less tea together and knit fingerless gloves and wear cardigans and jumpers and repeat vapid horseshit to each other out of doughy faces white as fucking flour as you dab at your weird nose that is always, always running, no matter the season.
“Goodbye” is fierce and final and hard as a nightstick. “Goodbye” does crimes and smacks asses and breaks windows. “Goodbye” is cold and untroubled and deadly.
“Goodbye” will whip you with razor wire and roll you into a greasy puddle out by the Dumpsters and pitch a cinder block through your windshield and take a shit on your dashboard and collect your tears in a coke spoon and snort them like crank and grab your daughter’s doll out of her hands and light its hair on fire, and toss that flaming doll down the hole of a Port-a-Potty, and if she lives to be a hundred and seventeen years old, your daughter will NEVER forget the extinguishing hiss and sad spank as her doll lands in that horrifying shit stew.
“Goodbye” is much, much bigger than “Hello”. “Hello” is always a supplication. “Hello” is always, always, ALWAYS asking for something. But “Goodbye” is always a declaration – it is always an announcement.
Beyond bullets and hurricanes and axe handles, beyond suicide notes and crime scenes, “Goodbye” is also freedom, because “Goodbye” is walking out of that job for the last time without looking back. “Goodbye” is the guts it takes to hurl yourself out of an airplane – “Hello” is pulling the rip cord, but “Goodbye” is stepping out of the plane.
“Goodbye” is D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot, Ambrose Bierce and Nessie – “Goodbye” is having the balls to take a powder and avoid capture.
“Goodbye” is also the victory of sound ideas over shitty ones – it is Darwin’s boot on an evangelical throat.
“Goodbye” is hard to say, because it’s hard to mean. “Goodbye” is clasping your wife’s skeletal hand while you watch without flinching the life draining out of her. “Goodbye” is the heft of your brother’s casket when you serve as his pallbearer.
“Goodbye” is ministrations and tenderness and last kindnesses. “Goodbye” takes a whole hell of a lot more moxie and mettle than “Hello” does. “Hello” comes at the beginning, before there is anything at stake.
“Goodbye” comes by its nature at the end, when we have invested our time and treasure, when we have accreted secrets and sorrows, fondness and trouble, the savor and meaning and purpose we build with each other. At “Hello,” we have nothing to lose, but if we are lucky enough to get to “Goodbye,” then we will have arrived at that place where it matters to us, that rare and privileged place we sometimes earn where everything hangs in the balance.