By Judy Berman
The man spotted me across the room and walked deliberately my way, smiling as he did so.
Then, my terror began.
I searched my memory bank and came up empty. Who is he? Where do I know him from?
Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. What do you do in a situation like this?
Why is it I have instant recall for someone I haven’t seen in more than 10 years? But I can’t remember some folks I see nearly every day.
If my husband, Dave, is with me, he bails me out. He recognizes when I have forgotten someone’s name. Then, he’ll stick his hand out and introduce himself.
So I don’t get offended when folks forget my name. Others, however, are not always as forgiving.
I’ve tried the memory tricks: focusing on the person, repeating his or her name aloud (and silently).
But, just as we’re about to wrap up our conversation, I’m like “squirrel.” I’m distracted.
Like the Absent-Minded Professor, I’ve forgotten why I’m here in the first place and the name of the person I’ve been talking to for the past 15 minutes.
I fake a coughing spasm as we go to say good-bye and pray they don’t catch on.
One judge, who I covered as a reporter, may have had a similar problem when he called the newsroom and asked for me. (My name, then, was Manzer.)
The judge yelled: “Mangler. I want to speak to Mangler.” (Or, maybe, that was a commentary on what he thought I did to a recent story.)
At a testimonial dinner, this same judge saw me and mentioned a story I’d done about the retiring city court judge.
“The headline said, ‘He’s a straight shooter.’ When ‘Dorothy’ Manzer asked me what kind of judge he is, I was thinking of his golf game when I said that.”
Everyone’s laughing and later ribbed me about the judge mixing up my name.
“Dorothy? I felt like I was in the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ ” I joked later. “Couldn’t he have picked a more exotic name?”
After dinner, I saw the judge and asked Dave: “Should I give him my card?”
Dave said: “Go for it.”
So, I handed the judge my card, smiled and said, “There’ll be a test on Monday.”
Well, the judge apologized, but I told him it wasn’t a problem. I’m guilty of this, too. It might be 2 in the morning before I remember folks’ names, their spouse’s and children’s names, their pets’ names and their favorite restaurants.
In the 10 years I’ve been teaching, more than a thousand students have been in my classroom. So, I hope they’ll take that into account if I veg out. Plus, in a year or two, they change so much – grow taller, look and/or act more mature, that I might not even recognize them.
While they’ll always have a place in my heart, my mind might draw a blank.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just saw someone I vaguely recognize. Where’s the nearest exit?
There are tricks to remembering a name. A link to Videojug is below. What tricks do you use in this situation?
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Music Video: What’s Your Name? (1962) sung by Don and Juan – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrZf3vRHmkw&feature=kp
Here’s some great humorous tips from Videojug. You may – or may not – choose to follow them: “How to Remember People’s Names”: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-remember-peoples-names
Main Photo – Silhouette – Arindam Mohapatra. Copyrighted. Used with permission. Arindam Mohapatra, the author of the nonfiction book “I Wish and Hope,” has completed a second book – a novel. To learn more, here’s a link to his blog. http://arindammohapatra.wordpress.com/
Illustration: The Absent-Minded Professor (The Forgetful Professor), 1929, Author: Per Lindroth (1878-1933) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fb/Lindroth_The_Absent-minded_Professor.jpg/489px-Lindroth_The_Absent-minded_Professor.jpg