Friday, October 15, 2010

my name is

I have a plan to improve the world.  Really.  It will make everyone more friendly and conversations more efficient.  It will also give my brain cells a rest.

I want everyone, all the time, everywhere... to wear a name tag.  Please?  If I see you every day all summer and now you're at the bank... I can say hi, but I'll spend the next hour trying to remember your name.  If I drove carpool with you every day for two years but when I see you at the YMCA I don't introduce you to my workout buddy?  It's because I can't.  (It might be her name, not your's!)  I've known you since middle school?  Um, sorry... name inaccessible at this moment.

So, everyone, put on a name tag!  You could have an attractive, gold engraved name tag, a casual "dog tag" style around your neck, or a simple sticker.  Don't really care.  I just want your name where I can see it.  Because we both know that I know you.  Sometimes I know you pretty well.  Other times, I realize that I've met someone and even during the "pleased to meet you" phase of that first conversation?  I've already forgotten their name. 

Once I've asked you to remind me of your name the limit of two, three times, I'm going to fake it from now on.  If you're lucky, I'll have a chance to ask your kid for your name.  (Kids don't care and won't tell on  me!)   I'll be discrete, but if you call me by my name I'm probably going to want to start avoiding you. It feels like a challenge and I know I'm not up for it. 

There's a couple I see at the pool every summer.  They have three kids and I know three names but I don't know if they are the kids' or if the names belong to the parents.  Yet every sentence the dad uses, directed at me, starts with my name.  I know he's on to me because in all these years I've never used his name to address him.  I might need to actually learn it next summer.  Because I do, eventually, learn a name.  Of course I may well forget it when I need it.

I met a speech therapist once, (I forget her name) who told me that this is quite common.  Proper nouns are saved in our brains in a different way than other nouns.  She even told me that there is a label for this disorder.  I just can't remember the name of it.


  1. Hah! I often wish this with my students. My violin students are not a problem, since I spend so much one on one time with them. But when I tend to deal with my students mostly in a group, I struggle. When the university started publishing color photos on my class rosters, I wanted to run down to the administration building and kiss someone. It's not that I don't know who they are. I remember everything they do in class (associated with a face) and years later, if you mention a name, I can probably tell you what they did for their final project. But matching name with face? Forget it.

  2. And the unremembered disorder may be genetic. An advantage of getting old and moving is I can just admit I don't remember!

  3. Great post! I'm tempted to steal it for my blog. I'd give you credit...if I could only remember your name. ;)