According to Wikipedia, “L’esprit de l’escalier or l’esprit d’escalier (“staircase wit”) is a French term used in English for the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late.” The French philosopher Denis Diderot originated the term after being unable to think of the perfect retort until he had descended the staircase to leave his host’s home.
We’ve all had witty rejoinders never said, either because inspiration struck too late or because we simply lacked the nerve to say it to someone’s face.
Here’s my best one. My wife’s best mate is quite a bit younger than us and has lots of tattoos. She also happens to be a big Tolkien fan. She was pointing out an inking that involved a lot of runic symbols.
“It’s the lyrics to my favourite song,” she explained, “in Elvish.”
…I sadly didn’t say, but wish I had.