Monday, January 25, 2021

It is only through great struggle that I can remember your name


If you have seven minutes free to watch this, one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits of recent years, may I suggest you do?

This is a takeoff on a game show called "What's That Name?" Hosted by the hilarious Bill Hader, the show has contestants John Mulaney and Cecily Strong trying to identify people's names they should remember. John cannot successfully identify his best friend's wife's name, for example, while Cecily fails to come up with the name of the wife of a fellow partner in her firm.

I can painfully relate to both.

It is a basic courtesy to remember someone's name when you are introduced to them. And much of the time I do, but only because I go to great lengths to imprint that name in my brain.

If I just casually hear their name and say hello, it is gone within seconds.

So I must repeat it to myself several times over, which leads to conversations like this:

PARTY HOST: Scott, I'd like you to meet Chuck McGlargle.

CHUCK: Scott, nice to meet you!

ME: Nice to meet you, too!

ME (to myself): "Chuck McGlargle. Chuck McGlargle. It's Chuck McGlargle. Do not forget it. Or at least don't forget the Chuck part. Chuck. Chuck. Chuck."

ME (to Chuck): So what do you do for a living, Buck? CHUCK! I MEAN CHUCK!

The next time I meet Chuck/Buck, whether it's a few minutes or a few years later, I feverishly wrack my brain to come up with his name. If I can't do it, I have to revert back to, "Hey, buddy! Nice to see you!" Or, "Heeeeeeyyy there, big guy, what's going on?"

The other person knows instantly that you have forgotten their name. Most people, like me, will simply gloss over it and move on. But I admire those who, good naturedly, will say something like, "Chuck McGlargle, we met at Bob's party." Or, even bolder, "You don't remember me, do you? I'm Chuck!"

It's not that I think you're unimportant. On the contrary, I love meeting new people, and I find virtually every person on the planet to be interesting (this is part of my personality...I sincerely think everything and everyone is fascinating).

It's just that while my body is very much that of a 51-year-old man, my mind has matured faster than the rest of me and has, for the better part of three decades, been that of a 95-year-old resident of assisted living.

I want to remember who you are, I really do. I simply lack the ability to retain this information.

It is my sincere hope that Chuck/Buck (or, if I've given up completely, "Dude," "Champ," or "Ace") will forgive me.

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