Wednesday, October 3, 2012

That Nameless Dread

Oh, hi! It’s . . . um, you.

Okay, I have a confession to make. I have no idea what your name is. 

Not an inkling.

Yes, I’m aware that you introduced yourself ages ago. I know we spoke at length, and as I recall, two people greeted you by name as they walked by. I know you had that rhyme, or that little alliteration thing, very clever and oh so catchy, making your name nigh impossible to forget.

I got nothing.

For what it’s worth, you’re not alone.  I forgot just about everyone.  I remember maybe six names from high school.  Tops.  I’ve worked with people side by side for years without ever learning their names.  A few good friends managed to stick, maybe a face or two from this job or that town every few years.  That’s it.  If you’re not one of those people, I have no idea what to call you.

And believe it or not, most people never notice.  

You talk with folks, say hi, chat about the weather or the kids or Sports Team X. Maybe you say the other person’s name, but if it doesn’t come up, who’s going to notice?  I’ve successfully gone years without anyone realizing I just don’t say say names.

Once in a very great while, someone works out that I never picked up that name years ago when introductions were first made, but most often, people come and go out of my life none the wiser.

I don’t know why names in particular refuse to lodge in my memory, but I do have a theory.  You see, I bounced around a lot over the years.  

A lot.  

Currently, I'm living in my thirtieth home and my third country.  Before I finally settled here, my record in any single residence was three years.  Come to think of it, I think my record for any single town was three years.  It took me over thirty years to put down roots that took hold, and even then, there was still plenty of bouncing around on the work front.

So every few years, my life gets a brand new supporting cast.  Maybe a few familiar faces stick around for continuity, and there might even be a surprise cameo from way back in Season 2, but for the most part, it’s a reboot.  New place, new people, with next to no connection to the past.  

Maybe I just filled up on my quota in my youth, meeting all those kids, classrooms at a time.  Maybe you can only hit the reset button so many times.  

I’m not trying to make excuses, but I really do want to understand how this blind spot formed.  Generally speaking, my memory’s pretty good.  I can pull some pretty arcane trivia from Whence the Sun Don’t Shine.  Quotes, useless factoids, pop culture references.  That sort of thing.  But it seems that my brain stopped trying to hold information that - judging by all previous experience - will be irrelevant in a few short years. Maybe even less.

And so, sorry, but I probably don’t remember your name.  

Unless of course, we’re online. I'm actually pretty good at remembering names when they're staring back at me in Facebook blue.