“People in France have a phrase: “Spirit of the Stairway.” In French: Esprit de l’escalier.
It means that moment when you find the answer, but it’s too late. Say you’re at a party
and someone insults you. You have to say something. So under pressure, with everybody
watching, you say something lame. But the moment you leave the party…
As you start down the stairway, then — magic. You come up with the perfect thing
you should’ve said. The perfect crippling put-down.
That’s the Spirit of the Stairway.
The trouble is even the French don’t have a phrase for the stupid things you actually
do say under pressure. Those stupid, desperate things you actually think or do.
Some deeds are too low to even get a name. Too low to even get talked about.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Guts, 2005