Living Retired — ‘THE NAME GAME’
Living Retired – ‘THE NAME GAME’
Hi (insert your name here). My wife (insert her name here) says I have a problem. I (Gary) think she is overreacting.
What I am talking about is the difficulty I have trying to remember peoples names. Here is what I mean…
Pre-Covid-19 – back before we had 14 months of homemade sourdough bread under our belts – Jan and I were attending a cocktail party. I was chatting with one of the guests I met. Standing at the island, I was convinced I was making a decent impression — oblivious to shrimp sauce dribbling down my chin onto the open-collar shirt Jan put out for me to wear. I scarfed down sooo many shrimp that my shoes were buried in tight wads of scrunched-up paper napkins. That’s when another lady joined our conversation. I knew who she was, but for the life of me I couldn’t come up with her name!
“Hi Gary. How are you? I have not seen you since who knows when?”
“Oh hi! Yes it has been since who knows when, hasn’t it? How are you? Tell me how have you been keeping?”
“I am fine, Gary. I have been doing well. The last we met you were still working.”
“Yes that is about the last time wasn’t it? How are you? Tell me how have you been keeping?” (Hmm, she DOES look familiar. What IS her name?)
“Gary, I am fine. I have been doing very well. Life looks like it is treating you well.”
“Yes. How are you? Tell me how have you been keeping?”
At this point, the polite thing to do would be to introduce mystery woman to the other person I was elbowing away from the seafood platter. So, I said the obvious: “Have you two met? I’m sure you have lots in common.” With that I walked away mumbling something about having to clean the shrimp sauce from my pants.
More recently, it happened again. Last night. After dinner. At our home. With Jan….
“Gary, did you enjoy this evening’s dinner we made together?”
“Yummy. Those were some of the best steaks we have ever had… ahhh, err, it’s Jan right?”
“How on earth can you not even be sure of my name, Gary? We have been married for 40 years!!!”
“Dear, you don’t need to remind me. I know its been 40 years!”
I went online and Googled: ‘Can’t remember names.’ From the kitchen Jan said something about, “While you’re at it you may want to look up “male insensitivity.’”
I came across a site – I can’t remember the name – suggesting that when you meet a person for the very first time you should make a mental note of a particular characteristic they may have and associate it with their name; then repeat this under your breath. For example, lets say you are introduced to Rebecca. You notice that she has red hair, so in your mind associate Rebeca with red hair. Repeat three times: Rebecca red hair. Rebecca red hair. Rebecca red hair.
BUT! The problem with this approach is that after 14 months of looking at people on ZOOM the characteristic I notice most are peoples nostrils! I have become so good at this I may be a contestant on Name That Nostril.
However, I decided to put the suggestion to work. Yesterday at a curbside pickup the man who delivered the package to my car said, “Hi I’m Norm”, so to me he became Norm Nostrils. Driving away I repeated Norm Nostrils, Norm Nostrils, Norm Nostrils…
I continued with my days chores. At the coffee shop, Nancy became Nancy Nostrils. The gas station attendant was Nathan – Nathan Nostrils. I was served by Nicola at the grocery store – you guessed it: Nicola Nostrils.
At dinner I told Jan about meeting Norm Nostrils, Nancy Nostrils, Nathan Nostrils, and Nicola Nostrils. Jan shook her head. “Gary, you’re nuts!”
Jan is convinced there must be a better way. In the meantime, is it too much to ask her to wear a name tag – even just around the house – ‘Hi. My name is Jan.’
Bye (insert your name here).