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.|