I’m terrible with names. It’s sad to say, but it’s true.
Back in the day, I could hide it a bit. I greeted friends and family and sometimes my own cousins with things like, “Hey girl!” “Buddy! It’s been a long time!” and to our four sons, I actually got by with “Kiddo,” a time or two before they called me on it.
Book signings were absolutely the worst because when one wants a book that you’re autographing personalized, you can’t simply substitute “Melvin” with “Dude.”
I thought I was clever a time or two and would casually say to my would-be purchaser, “I want to get this right, so please tell me how you spell your name?”
That worked great until a lovely young gal with whom I had recently enjoyed a casual gathering replied, “Lori, it’s Deb. D-E-B. You forgot my name, didn’t you?”
There is literally no way to “oh well,” your way out of that one!
While my friend Midge’s memory is way better than mine, she too struggles with names. Together we walk through public places, side by side, as acquaintances, friends and family alike approach us and call out, “Midge, Lori! How are you? How are your families, and Midge, how is that darling grandbaby, Emily?”
Simultaneously those minds of ours search and result with nothing but a proverbial game show buzzer indicating we can no longer participate.
But hey! Thanks for playing.
Just the other day, after a long week, Midge and I decided to go out for a nice lunch. As we approached our booth, I noticed a couple, who are acquaintances of ours, sitting near us along with another man. I greeted them, asked how their summer had been and then slid into our booth across from Midge.
“Bill and Pam Johnson and they’re with someone we don’t know,” I said to Midge as if I was a sleuth on the case.
“What’s that mean?” Midge whispered back.
“Bill and Pam are seated behind us and will probably greet us on the way out, so I wanted to be sure you had their names right.”
“Thank you,” Midge replied. And it was good to know she appreciated how good my memory can be.
Upon “Bill” and “Pam’s” departure, they did indeed approach our table and my dear Midge said to their unknown friend, “Hey, Bill, how are you doing?”
At which time me and my “stellar memory” whispered from behind my napkin, “The other guy is Bill.”
That Midge, she’s nothing if not trusting, so she turned her attention to the other gentleman and said, “Hey, Bill!” and then actually did a follow through with the wife and said, “Pam! How’s business? How are the kids? We should totally get together and catch up sometime!”
This was followed by one of those long, awkward pauses. One where time seems to stand still, the ceiling fans slow down and napkins take upwards of 15 seconds to fall to the floor.
Finally “Pam” said, “My name is Brenda and this is my husband, Roy, and our friend is Calvin.”
Let me tell you, folks, there are a lot of ways to correct a situation such as this, but sadly Midge and I could come up with none of them.
Instead of going with shame, I went into self-preservation mode and exclaimed, “Well gosh, it’s so wonderful to see you, Brenda and Roy, and Calvin, it’s nice to meet you! I’m Lori and this is my good friend old-what’s-her face,” and at that, they politely smiled and walked away.
A few days have passed since the incident and I’m concerned that Midge may still be a bit miffed at my throwing her under the bus like I did.
I’m going to let some time pass and hope she’ll forget it ever happened.