Sunday, March 13, 2016

My memory palace is in ruins

I suppose very few people in the world can't relate to forgetting names. Everyone's familiar with that sinking feeling of meeting someone unexpectedly in a public place – or worse, while you're with a friend that should be introduced. You can forget the name of the person you meet. You can forget the name of the person you're already with. It happens. It's messy. It's hilarious and perfectly natural and messy. I've heard people who automatically move away from their companion when they encounter a familiar face to spare him or her the agony of introductions, just in case a name is forgotten.

I admit having a strange name means that people rarely forget it, but just in case they do, I often point to myself while saying "Orange!" Hashtag charity work. Hashtag toddler habits.

I've also become very comfortable admitting to people that I'm ... well ... old and forgetful. More often than not, I just blurt out the generic "Um ... I'm sorry I can't remember your name." There was one time though, when I probably got too honest. It happened in the mall, while I was striding down an escalator. From where I was, I spotted a very smiley woman who was waving to me and, as expected, I couldn't figure out who she was. I had half a mind to run back up the escalator but I wasn't feeling particularly confident in my grace so I approached her and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sure I know you but ... can you tell me why?"

*Sheepish grin*

The most embarrassing encounter happened a couple of years ago, after I accompanied Joemar to a chemo session. We were walking out when a really pretty girl turned to me and happily said, "Orange?! Hi!!!"

Aaaand, as you could probably guess by the way this blog entry is going, I couldn't remember her name. I knew I liked this woman from my past, and I so desperately wanted to make introductions because it was a good-vibe moment. Joemar – who knew all too well that I had a history of not recognizing people* – was just standing there quietly, no doubt amused and waiting for the comedy to ensue. As it usually did (does).

Seeing no way out of it, I said, "Please don't hate me, but I don't remember your name."

And this pleasant, wonderful woman said:


Her name was Orange. HER NAME WAS ORANGE!!!


I knew her from high school – she was a year younger than me. I remember I had to call her home phone one time (it would be futile to try and recall why I had to) and had so much trouble trying to explain that I was Orange looking for Orange. The person who picked up the phone was having none of it. I ended up saying I was Anna just to finally end our shared misery.

So ... permanent nametags? Discuss.


*While I was writing this, I started having doubts about whether or not Joemar was actually there when the Orange encounter happened. I think my mind, in an attempt to cope with his loss, has transformed all memories of him into unreliable mashups of scenes. I do know for sure that one time, he saw one of his friends at the mall and started talking to her while I respectfully kept my distance. I realized all too late that he was talking to one of our med classmates, and I was respectfully avoiding someone I actually knew. Again, NYAAARRGGGHHHH.

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