I have an incredible ability. But it causes lots of life stress and awkwardness, so it may be better categorized as an incredibly awful ability.
What is this ability you ask? Flying? Psychic powers? Bending space and time? Nope. I have the incredibly awful ability to forget a name about five seconds after it’s been told to me.
Yep. I’ve counted.
I don’t try to do this. On the contrary I try really hard to remember people’s names. I do all the crazy things. Like that girl Brooke I met the other day with the crooked nose. (See what I did there?) I still remember her name, so it’s not every name I forget. But it is most of them.
It’s probably to do with how I learn. I think it’s a design thing. I need to see the name represented visually. Because, by golly, I can remember the names of people in the service industry who wear name tags. I still remember tired, gray-haired Wendy who works at the Kmart. I still remember Chuy who hooked me up with a sweet tire deal.
But you? If we’ve just met, I have no idea who you are.
The worse type of situation is when I get a cascading waterfall of names all in one go. This usually happens at parties.
My brain goes into panic mode because it knows very well how sucky we are as a team remembering names. And now there’s like 15? I usually don’t even bother. I just nod and smile, eyes twinkling all friendly, hiding the sheer terror inside that one of you people is going to come up to me in a week and I’m going to have NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE.
That’s a hard thing about having a unique feature. I have super, super curly hair. It’s like being the only caucasian girl in a group of Japanese (happened) or the teacher at the front of a large class (also happened). Everyone knows who you are, because you’re the only one with (insert feature here). I’m sure a lot of you have been through it. Wow, does everyone seem to know exactly who you are—or confuse you with the other person they know with that exact same feature. 😉
But because of this, I’ve vowed to never get offended when someone forgets my name. Except if the BFF does. Then I call the Doctor about scheduling an MRI.
Because of my incredibly awful ability, I’ve also become quite adept at pretending I know who you are. In fact if I actually don’t know you at all, you could probably get away with pretending we know each other and I’d go along with it to some extent.
It feels like that episode of Seinfeld where he couldn’t remember Delores’s name for the life of him—except every day for me. And for people I see on a daily basis, whose names you’d THINK I would know by now, well, it’s been too long and it’s too awkward to ask.
I envy those of you with the actually incredible ability to remember people’s names.
One of the worst couldn’t remember experiences I’ve had was with this very nice girl I went to college with.
GIRL: Jae!!!! Oh my goodness, how are you????!!!!
JAE: Gooooooooood! (Um, who is this?) How are…. YOU????
GIRL: Doing awesome. I recently got married and life is fabulous.
JAE: Good. Good. (At this point I know her face, but have no idea where I know her from).
GIRL: *giggling* I was just remembering that time we climbed up to the top of the stadium and threw all those pumpkins off the top. You were KAH-RAZY!!!!
JAE: Right? (Say what? Well, that sounds like something I would have done, but…. Maybe it’s time to fess up….) So, here’s the thing, I don’t—
GIRL: *hugs* Well it’s great seeing you again Jae. I totally miss the old days with (Roommate’s name I do remember) and (other roommate’s name I know well). Talk to you later!
How could I forget smashing pumpkins from the stadium? I mean I probably did it as a joke because back then I’m pretty sure I was listening to Smashing Pumpkins all the time. Anyways, it horrifies me a bit. I remember so many useless, geeky facts, but names.
I want to hear your stories. Ever had an awkward moment with a person whose name you couldn’t remember? Ever had people you don’t remember tell you stories about yourself? What do you do to help yourself remember names?