Image by Affendaddy via Flickr
I hate to admit this – but I can’t remember your name. Actually – if I’m really honest about it – it has always been this way with me. I don’t do it on purpose. I know everyone loves the sound of their name spoken by another person. I just don’t think that person will be me. Sorry. I like to think of it this way: I have a lot of other ‘stuff’ floating around up here – so I cannot be saddled down with a lot of trivial information, like phone numbers and names.
I think it’s a hereditary trait – I really do. My maternal grandmother could never remember any of her grandchildren’s names. I was somewhere in the middle of the bunch – therefore most forgettable, I’m sure. She would go down the list, ‘Phyllis, Cora, Wendy, Joanne, David – WHO ARE YOU???’ Yes – I was even called, ‘David’. Nice. My cousin Joanne recalls being referred to as, ‘Wendy, Cindy, Joanne’ for most of her life.
Well – now that I’m of a ‘certain age’ I can identify with my grandmother and know how hard she struggled with our names. I have found myself calling after my children – getting it horribly wrong and wondering why I CAN’T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES! And like Bill Cosby said of his own father, ‘You live here and I’ll find out your name!!’ *Sigh* It is so true. I have called, Shawn – ‘Greg’ – and Greg – ‘Shawn’. I have even called Ashlee both ‘Shawn’ and ‘Greg’ before her own name. One time Ashlee looked right at me and said incredulously, ‘Did you just call me Greg?’ Uh…maybe.
We recently started attending a new church. There are only about 50 people on a Sunday morning – and do you think I can remember everyone’s name? Of course not. It’s a HUGE struggle – I’ve never been good at face and name association. You know the kind – try to find something that they remind you of – or repeat their name like three times during a conversation and you’ll be set! Not me. Even after that – I usually repeat their name WRONG. Good grief. One very friendly and understanding lady – who has forgiven me and is in fact in our small group doing life with us every week – was Michelle Oakes. I could NOT remember her name – even after about 3 weeks! How embarrassing. Well she was really sweet and said to me – ‘just think of the Beatles song’ – and that did it for me! I never forgot it after that. I just think of the song.
What if there is NO SONG that goes with their name? Oh my. That can’t be good for me. And what if they don’t look like anything that you can do a word association with? Names are a funny thing. And over time – everyone starts to look the same. It’s really bad. I have this horrible fear that someone from my past will walk up to me and say, ‘Hi! Remember me?’ and I will have NO IDEA. My only hope is that I will not look familiar to anyone either. Or that they will just keep talking and I will eventually figure it out. Oh my husband will come up to me and save me – and then I can introduce him by saying, ‘Oh have you met my husband, Greg?’ And then they will be FORCED to say their name.
We just finished reading, for the 10th time or so, ‘The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable’ by the late Jaime Buckingham. He told about a childhood friend from the mountains of North Carolina where he had spent his boyhood. The boy’s name was Kenneth Sumi. He said that being back in those hills was like reliving his past and reminded him of his old friend with red hair. Even though it had been 50 years – every man with red hair reminded him of that boy. And so every one that would approach him with red hair would invariably walk right into the ‘Well if it isn’t Kenneth Sumi!’ – it wasn’t of course – it never was. But that’s what he could recall from his past and it wouldn’t let him go.
I’m afraid I do that too. I see people from my past – and the way they looked back then – and then try to make it work for the people around me. It is not based on anything real – only memories. It’s a scary slippery slope of constant embarrassment. I think of all the times I was sure of whom I was talking to – only to find out that I was completely wrong. And I dread someone saying, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ Uh – actually…..No.
Here’s to reality and things coming back to bite – BIG TIME!
What’s your name again?