What's in a Name? Or Please Forgive My Memory Lapse, I'll Think of it in a Minute

I was standing in front of the yogurt shop the other day with my Mom and my sister when a friend approached. We exchanged hugs and I attempted to make introductions. "This is my Mom Naomi and my sister Joan." When it came time to identify my friend, I drew a blank. So I said, "This is my dear friend who takes great, great care of me." I hugged her again to distract from the omission. My mind flashed on: "her daughter ice skates, she has one of those tiny little dogs, she's a poet. Dang, what is her name?" It didn't come to me. Until five minutes later.

I wondered if she noticed. I wondered, if she noticed, was she upset? When it finally came to me, I told my Mom and sister, "oh yeah, her name is Nadine." We all lamented that this kind of brain freeze seems to be happening more and more frequently. (We're all over 55.) I suggested maybe we should get a pin that read "if I don't seem to know your name, don't worry. Most likely I know at least 20 details about you, it's just that your name escapes me for the moment."

Some of us have tricks for this. When I'm introduced to new people at parties I'll often say "nice to meet you Joe. I may not remember your name, but at least we both know I knew it once." They usually laugh, and are disarmed so that when I see them later while mingling, they offer up their names right away.

One of my friends will pull me aside at an event and say, "Judy, see that guy in the grey jacket? He's a really important client, but I can't remember his name. So when we approach, I want you to introduce yourself immediately. That way he'll have to say his name and it won't look like I forgot. Ok?" Luckily I'm outgoing and I'm game for it. If she were at the event with a shy friend, she'd be out of luck.

Another friend says she pretends to have to walk away from her amnesia victims briefly and just says "excuse me for a minute. Why don't you two introduce yourselves and I'll be right back." I'm not sure how convincing that tactic is, but it might possibly save her some embarrassment.

To all of this I say, why are we torturing ourselves? What does it matter? Why are we so upset if someone forgets our name once in awhile? Or, frequently? Does it suggest we don't care? Does it mean we're bad people? I say let your bad memory freak-flag fly. Own that by this age we've got so many memory cells tied up with passwords, schedules, directions and facts, that we've let the names of our friends edge out to just beyond consciousness.

So, if you see an old friend, and they introduce you as "this is my dear friend who brings me chicken soup when I'm sick," take it as a casualty of the overinformation age, not an indictment of their regard for you. Take comfort that most likely they haven't drawn a permanent blank. Your name will most likely come to them in five minutes.