Excuse me if I've forgotten your name.
You see I'm terrible with names. Always have been. And it's been quite a challenge going through life often having to refer to co-workers, friends, and people I've been married to as "hey, you!"
Why am I so bad with names?
When I meet a new person I'm always hoping to make a good impression. I pump up my hair, wipe any crud off the corners of my mouth, and desperately strive for a rakish smile instead of my normal goofy one.
And then I say "Hi, my name is Perry Block, nice to meet you."
And the other person says "Hello, happy to meet you too. I'm #@&* ^%##."
I have so focused my attention on not coming off like an idiot that I have completely missed the official presentation of my new acquaintance's name. What's more, I am now cluelessly adrift in a world in which yet one more individual exists whose name is as elusive to me as is ever reading beyond the first chapter of Heart of Darkness.
Thereafter I am deathly ill at ease if ever I encounter this person. Should I spot him or her in town, I dart across the street, hide behind a nearby trash receptacle, or move to Australia. Should I unexpectedly bump directly into him or her, I produce a muffled greeting and rapidly excuse myself as being late for yoga, which I only started this year but have been using as my excuse since 1974.
Sometimes I catch a break. The person I’ve just met is one of those folks who loves to tell long stories and pepper them with rampant over usage of his or her own name from start to finish:
“So Ralph says to me ‘Joan, I need your advice. Joan, what would you do about this? Joan, how would you handle it? I’m counting on you, Joan.’ And I said ‘Yes, Ralph?’ And he said ‘Joan: Should I buy the waxed or unwaxed dental floss?”
Ironically after this level of overkill I’m sure not sure if the woman’s name is “Joan” or “Annoying Narcissist from Hell.”
I know I should take control of my problem. And several weeks ago at a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, I had my chance!
I had met a woman about an hour earlier and of course did not remember her name. Should I just go up to her once more and ask her name, I thought? But then she’ll know I wasn’t paying attention when we first met. What if she throws a drink in my face? What if it’s scotch and I’ve been drinking gin all night?
All right, I decided, here goes ….
“Hello again,” I said to her, “umm, I was wondering….”
“Oh, hi!" she said brightly. "You know I was just trying to remember your name.”
“AHHH, it’s Perry,” I replied, now totally relieved and doing a quick but belated double-check of my hair, mouth, and smile.
“Oh, sure, Perry, I remember now,” she said. “Nice to see you again. I’m #@&* ^%##.”
Oh shit, did it again.