Say My Name, Say My Name

We – well, Todd – had a poker party Saturday night and as the guys arrived I was greeted by 3 of his very good friends with a smile and a hug. The next two to arrive were colleagues I hadn’t met previously, followed by another I hadn’t met either. Three new names and faces for me to remember. The first guy was easy, since he made a point to say hello to Ava and then he said, is that a pump? I have one too. And he whips his insulin pump out of his pocket. We pumpers have to stick together. And he fist-bumped her. How cool is THAT??

I prepared the food like a good little housewife, and fixed myself a cocktail whilst I worked. Three margaritas later – don’t judge, it was Saturday night after all – when someone asked me how I made the 9-layer dip, I said it wasn’t me but was brought by, uh… and found myself stuttering uh, um, it was…uh… as my mind went through the list of names I’d committed to memory. Really – three – that’s all I had to remember. And I did: Fred, Dan, and Jason.  The problem was – which one was the dip man? I covered my mental slip and just said, OMG it’s soooo good! Have some more! And quickly directed my attention to someone else on the other side of the room as if they were speaking to me. What was that?

A couple of hours later, we had two late-entries knocking at the front door. The first guy I’d met once before when he came over to work with Todd on his website, the second was a friend of his. He said hello and his friend stepped inside behind him – we said hello and he quickly introduced himself (and for the love of God I forgot his name the minute he said it) and I said, nice to meet you – I’m Tara. Because I just knew the first guy probably didn’t remember Todd’s wife’s name, and I wanted to spare him the embarrassment. Because I know exactly how that feels.

I’ve never really been good with names. I will never forget a face, but names – why are they so important anyway? After working in the restaurant business for over 30 years, I’ve known literally hundreds of regulars and semi-regulars. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to remember names of people who come in maybe three times a year? But they almost always remember my name. Customers. Probably because their access to alcohol depends on it. I do, after all, hold the shaker glass. But it is oh-so-embarrassing when those familiar faces come in and you can’t remember their name. Recently, I asked my mom what this woman’s name was and even she drew a blank! Come on woman – get with it – you see her more than I do.

I think it’s a symptom of aging. Even though I’ve never been good with names, it seems I’ve gotten ten times worse, if that’s even possible. A couple of weeks ago someone I’ve known for nearly 25 years both from my business AND hers, came in and I found myself staring at the floor dry-mouthed because I couldn’t remember her name. HTF does that happen?

So, as karma has its way with us all, I’ve noticed people not remembering my name either. You can see it in their eyes, the rolodex of names flipping rapidly with no evidence of a hit. I know Todd spent a great deal of time talking about me and us when we first got back together with the many people in his universe, but damned if any of them remember my name each time we meet. I don’t blame them. But you knowit’s bad when one of his best friends – from high schoolwhen we were together the first time – goes to introduce me to his in-laws and he stammers because he can’t remember my name! I actually stared at him and said, you are kidding, right? And he so wasn’t. And I quickly felt ashamed, since this was at his dad’s funeral and of course he’s got to be out of his head.

Anyway, all of this got me to thinking…When are you no longer significant enough, young enough, or hot enough, for others to remember your name? I guess the experience of being an only child for all of my childhood predisposed me to a sort of self-importance – and that how could someone not remember my name?

Not that this never happened in my youth. Hell, my dad’s neighbor not only forgot my name when I was ten, but apparently also forgot I was a girl. 25 years ago we had a longtime customer who decided to call me Amber because he liked that name better. When he’d call it a night, he’d say goodnight Amber! Forever Amber! Which someone once said was a reference to a porn – but I never confirmed that. Anyway, it was so bad that other customers started calling me Amber too. Imagine the confusion that followed that.

I once read that the trick to remembering names is to make eye contact at introduction and repeat their name back to them. Supposed to commit the name to memory. I won’t say this never worked for me, but now that I’m technically over the hill – and, in the case of Saturday night, three sheets to the wind – aint nothing committing to memory but the location of the nearest bathroom. I’m banking on remembering Todd’s name, since I never forgot it to begin with. Hopefully, it’s the same for him. And if not – we can be new lovers. Every day.

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