Forgetting a name is a humbling experience

Yesterday, I was thanking a blogging friend, Polly, for her re-blogging a post I wrote. All was good until I called her Barbara on her own blog and mine. I can offer up excuses, but this is attributable to operator error. We had a good laugh after several mea culpas, I realized after I had done it that something was amiss, so while I was confirming my faux pas, Polly noted in reply that her name was Polly not Barbara. Big oops.

I would like to say this was the only time I have done this. But, two name calling errors come to my mind. First, I was with my wife and daughter on a Saturday at a restaurant awaiting an order. As I went to get the order when our name was called, I bumped into someone and his family who I knew I had met at one of my clients, yet I could not call up his name.

I said hello and then went back to our table. Then, the nightmare started. He came by to meet my wife and daughter and still nada in my memory banks on the name. So, I introduced my side of the conversation, but simply had to pass on his side, embarrassingly so. What I recalled later is I have been in a number of big meetings with this client, so I had met him with many people. At least that is plausible, but still embarrassing.

Second, this one is more I know the person pretty well from some charity work. After a concert at a small venue we attended with another couple, I bumped into my friend and her friend as we were leaving. Introductions ensued, but I failed miserably on my end. I drew a deer-in-the-head-light blank. We laughed about it as we parted ways with our friends and then it hit me who that was on the way home. So, I called her to leave a message with more mea culpas. As my wife pointed out, you knew her enough to hug he, but not introduce her.

These are just two that come to mind from a longer list. My favorite name omission came from a good friend, who forgot his own wife’s name. He introduced her at a big reunion as “Jenny,” so she corrected him and said, “It’s Jeannie.”

Unfortunately, this problem will likely get worse as I age. Hopefully, I will always remember my wife’s name, but with two mothers in our family who died of complications due to Alzheimer’s, I hope that won’t be the reason. If I don’t remember a name, I may have to borrow my charming wife’s skill at calling people “Sweetie” or “Chickie” or something else when she draws a blank.

What are some of your stories on drawing a blank?

22 thoughts on “Forgetting a name is a humbling experience

  1. Zsa Zsa Gabor admitted she was terrible at remembering names. She said, “Why do you think I call everyone darling?” I take the Basil Fawlty approach and simply drop to the floor in a dead faint.

    • Too funny. Of course, I am an old enough to recall her accent saying “dah-ling.” I do need to look up what Basil Fawlty means. Thanks for stopping by. Keith

      • I don’t think I am familiar with John Cleese’s character here, although I could see him easily playing it as defined in Wikipedia.

  2. I’m terrible with remembering names. I remember faces very well, and have approached people I ‘recognized’, who didn’t remember me, until we talked and realized we were in some similar place for a brief time. I do find it a bit uncomfortable when I go places, and people I don’t recognize, call me by name. However, in many of the jobs and volunteering services I’ve been in, I had to wear a name tag, so people got to know my name. And I have an easy name to remember. 🙂🌹

    • Rose, so true on the name tag thing. You have likely made a presentation, hopefully which was well received. So, people might remember you for such, while you would be hard pressed to remember one of thirty. Or, you may have been one of the thirty not knowing all twenty-nine of your colleagues. Keith

  3. I am bad with names too. I used to try hiding it (and hope my husband realizes my brain fart and asks the person’s name himself) but I’ve learned to just come clean with a smile. At my age, the person usually just laughs it off (probably knowing they often forget too) or, even better, admits that they forgot my name too.

    • Janis, my wife and I have a pact that if I delay, she needs to reach out and introduce herself and I try to do the same. Sometimes we forget as noted above. Keith

  4. This happened quite a few times to me too. Basically on WordPress. It is not that I forgot the name but I replied to a comment of one blogger while I saw the name of another blogger in the corner of my eye and was concentrated. I knew who I was talking to and still just used the other name. Yes, embarrassing. But it happened to other bloggers too when they called me a different name. So, it is embarrassing but can happen to everybody so quickly.

    • Erika, I fully understand. That is precisely how this happened, but I should have known better. Barbara’s icon was right next to Polly’s in the Like list. It was still an oops. Keith

      • I hear you. I thougtht the same. I was reminded that I need to be not only concentrated what I write but also to check if I use the right name, although I mean the right person 😁

      • Erika, with so many followers, you have to take extra care. I have either worked or consulted with several large banks. So, when I see someone on the street who I know worked for one, my mind goes through a mental rolodex – which bank, which department….It makes it harder when they change employers. Keith

  5. Hello Keith. I understand your frustration and embarrassment all too well. I have Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, which means you cannot recognize people’s faces. I have to see someone very frequently to remember their face. That includes neighbors, if I have not seen them in a while and meet them somewhere I know I know them, but not who they are. Even if I see them all the time I cannot describe them. I have walked right by Ron in the grocery store while looking for him without recognizing him and we are on our 32nd year together. Best wishes. Hugs

  6. How familiar to me Keith
    Sheila has despaired of me over the years holding convivial conversations in streets with folk and then as we walk away saying ‘You didn’t know who you were talking to did you?’
    I am reminded of a 1960s book of supposed representatives at the UN. It was a selection of photos of the late Peter Ustinov in various poses physical and facial. The British representative was smiling vaguely, the caption underneath was.
    ‘I never forget a name or face, though I sometimes having trouble putting the two together,’

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