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Friday, September 02, 2005

I'm talkin to whatzisface (or The Case for Nametags)

"What's your name?"

It's official. I'm terrible with names. If someone comes up to me and introduces himself, the odds are that, by the time he finishes saying his last name, I will already have forgotten it. In fact, there is a good chance I may not have even heard it in the first place. It will go in one ear and out the proverbial other without firing so much as one neuron in my so-called brain.

This is not a sign of impending dementia. Have no fear. I've always been like this. The only way for me to remember a name is to see it in writing, and stare at it intentionally, and then mouth it three times while glancing at the face of its owner. I'm not kidding. There are drug reps out there who have been calling on me for 10 years whose names I still don't know because I'm to embarrassed to stare at their chests.

"Hi Dr. S!"


And in shul? Foggedaboutit! I think we had 4 or 5 families move in over the summer. I have no idea who they are or what their names are. I even mix up the names of people I actually do know. I remember about 10 years ago I called one of the Rabbi's sons by his brother's name, and he said something like "G-d forbid!" and I don't think he's spoken to me since.

It gets really embarrassing the longer it goes on. There are people that I've met two or three times over the years whose names I still can't remember, and now I'm too ashamed to ask.

"What, you mean you've been having kiddush with this guy for 15 years and you still don't know his name? Are you a moron??"

All I'm saying is, if more people would make an effort to wear big, bright name tags on their shirts, my life would be much simpler.


30cal said...

well, now i know who to blame. i still dont know all the new seniors nor all the base medrash guys at wits- evem tho ive spoken with nearly everyone on occasion. im getting better tho...though.....

Prodly said...

I'm with you 100% on this one.

MC Aryeh said...

hey, if you can remember all your kids' real names AND blog names, that's pretty impressive right there...

Jack's Shack said...

Tell them you want to send them a card and then ask them to write down their names and addresses for you.

Of course Shabbos could make this a little difficult, and I suppose that the first time you meet someone it might seem a little odd to offer to send them a card.

But you can't plan for everything.

PsychoToddler said...

Here's what a typical kiddush/meeting/affair is like for me:

Hey Mark, I want you to meet a few people!

This is Dr. Blahblah, and his wife Blahby Blahbah, and Mrs. Blahblahb, Rabbi and Mrs. Blahblah Blabhabya and Blahblha Bhlabha, and by the way they have three kids who will be in the school next year, Blah, Blahblah, and Blablahblakdfahblha, and their ages are blah blah and blahteen. Do you see teenagers? Don't forget we have a meeting on Blahday at Blahblah-thirty in the Blah hall.

Stacey said...

Ok, pop quiz. What is my name?

PsychoToddler said...


Wickwire said...

Same here, and whats worse is when someone knows you by name and you feel like you've never seen them before in your life. You think they're mistaken you for someone and they ask how your child is and name him by name. I may be losing it at my end.

Blah-Blah and son Blahaw-haw

Stacey said...

Nah, that's you looking in the mirror. ;)

JC said...

I can totally relate. This happened just the other day to me at the k-mart. A man yelled out asking how I was and I was trying to remember why I should know him. I thought he was an old neighbor but the woman who was with talking about how long they had been married, would not have been the right wife. I am still not sure who he is. Makes me feel terrible.

fudge said...

no, i think the worst is when someone leaves a message on your voicemail that says, 'hi perel, it's x again! i had such a great time talking to you last night, and i'm sorry it took so long for me to get back to you about the book. the answer is yes. forty dollars sounds good to me, i'll be around to pick it up at eleven...'

and you stand there in the middle of the hallway, stunned, thinking two things:

a) i don't know an x.

b) i don't have any books.

ball-and-chain said...

OMG, you really are just like Dr. Bean! If Mrs. Balabusta doesn't share this problem, you can have her help. Here is how it usually goes with us.
Me: "Bean, remember Jane? She used to live across the street from us? You took care of her grandmother in the rehab center? She has two heads? You remember."
Bean: "Oh yeah."
Me: "Well, she and her husband Bill are coming over for lunch. Her cat died."
You can see why I don't tell him much. Anyway, he'll just forget and the next time we see her he'll say "How's your cat?" The truly glorious thing is, he gets away with it every time. I'll bet you do too.

ball-and-chain said...

Also, lest you think that I am immune to this. My family has been using the same mechanic for twenty years. His wife works in the office. She always asks about my kids, my cousins kids, etc. Unfortunately no-one in our whole family knows her name. At this point, no-one can ask either.

PsychoToddler said...

Doctor Bean is really my hairy twin brother.

zahava said...

Then Trep is your long-lost horn-playing triplet brother! ROTFLMAO!!!!!

We actually have it down to a science -- if within, OH! the first 30 seconds of my joining Trep at Kiddush he hasn't introduced me I say, "I'm Zahava, I am sorry, but I didn't catch your name!" Only twice in about 14 years has someone been dafkanik enough to say, "You didn't catch it because it wasn't offered!"

Shira Salamone said...

Oh, boy, does this ever sound familiar! I've often found myself allowing a newcomer to my shul to introduce him/herself to a shul member because I'm not sure of the member's name. It's been known to take me over a decade to figure out someone's name. I still don't know the names of my neighbor's daughters (who still live in her apartment), even though I've been living here for two decades. It's so mortifyingly embarrassing to have such a poor memory for names. And to make matters even worse, I also have a sufficiently poor memory for faces that I frequently confuse even people whose names I know for other people whose names I know. Gevalt!

treppenwitz said...

I'll tell you what Mike, Zahava really has my number on that one! :-)

PsychoToddler said...

Wick: I'm really bad at that. I try not to let on that I don't know who they are, and it becomes more and more awkward the deeper we get into the conversation. It's hard to say to someone, after you've been chatting for about 15 minutes, "BTW who exactly are you?"

stacey: what is it going to take for me to get you hooked on homestarruner.com?

JC: I walked into a room with a patient, and she was sitting there with another woman. I introduced myself to the other woman, whom I assumed was an out-of-town relative. She said she knew who I was, because I'm her doctor too.

Shira: when our neighbors moved in a few years ago, I went out of my way to commit their names to memory, which has been very helpful. I know all the kids' names too, but unfortunately I can't tell which is which. So I guess that's why that no work.

BAC, Zahava, Trep: Unfortunately, my wife is not much help in these matters. I remember she invited her mailman to our wedding, and she kept telling me, "Don't forget, that's our mailman, his name is Bill."

Guess what.

Shira Salamone said...

LOL! :) The Punster got a laugh out of your response, too.

The inability to remember names runs in my family. My father used to forget our names all the time. (My parents? They have four. :) ) He was always saying, "Uh, George, Harry, Charley"--and that was to me and my sister. :)

PsychoToddler said...

Oh yeah, my mom still goes through all of our names until she finds one that sticks:

"Lest-Felici-Rache-Markie, pass me some chicken."

torontopearl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PsychoToddler said...

Here's me at the Yeshiva welcome dinner last night:

Oh hi, I'm Mark, what's your name?

Blah blabh

Nice to meet you. Where are you from?


Really? Is that in Missouri?


Oh. Which one is your kid?

That one (points to a group of 10 kids).

Good looking boy. I can see whom he takes after. So did you drive or fly in?

Blah. And boy are my arms tired.

Good one. No way I've heard that about a million times before. So what do you do for a living.

Oh I blah blah blah, but now I just work for the various yeshivas.

Tell me about it. Well, welcome to Milwaukee! When you going back to Kansas?

I told you I'm from Blabh.

Oh, right. Have a safe trip.