Thursday, May 17, 2012

Do I Know You?

Some people don’t remember names.  Others can’t recall telephone numbers.  Still others can’t get dates straight.

I can do all of these things.  I have a special talent for phone numbers.  I know every phone number from my childhood, and can recall most of my current friends’ cell and home phone numbers. 

It’s one of those skills for which no one has a use, and that no one cares about.  Hello, cell phones and caller ID.

My problem is that I have poor facial recognition.

Depending on where you fall on the panic spectrum, this may be a non-issue, or it may be a red flag for a frightening future.  Probably Alzheimer’s patients start out this way, or I had a traumatic brain injury or something else terrible that I don’t remember.  I don’t read into it.  It’s more embarrassing than anything else.

During my first year of college, I hung out with a random group of roommates, friends, and friends of friends.  There was a core group of us who went to the same parties and  saw each other between classes.  There was this one guy in the group.  Every time I saw him, I’d ask him his name, stick my hand out, introduce myself, and say, “Nice to meet you.”  I never registered his face.  By the fifth time, he hated me.  This meeting may or may not have ended with him calling me a horrible name that rhymes with signorant snitch.  We were no longer friends after that.

To combat this issue, I just act like I know everybody.  I removed Nice to meet you from my dialogue.  Instead, I say, Hello, how are you? or Good to see you or I compliment a person right away on something to do with their appearance: a piece of jewelry, their mustache, the whiteness of their teeth. 

If you think this last item sounds strange, everyone likes to hear a compliment about the whiteness of their teeth.  Trust me.

Acting as if I’ve known a person forever breaks the ice quickly, leading into conversations about subjects that jog my memories about a person, which helps to avoid offending them if we’ve shared an awesome moment.   However, I do overcompensate in situations when I see someone who I think might look familiar, and feign a deeper relationship than we actually had.

This is how I became best friends with my kids’ school bus driver after I ran into her in the grocery store one day. 

[Just kidding.  That never happened.  It was the lunch lady.] 

And the guy that I waved at persistently and warmly at my son’s band concert the other night?  I hope that he doesn’t remember MY face anytime soon.

I'm sorry.  You all look the same to me.

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