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Friday, August 6, 2010

Significance of names

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re standing with some friends at a social event and you see a person coming toward you who you vaguely recognize but you can’t quite remember his/her name? Or it’s someone you definitely recognize and you should totally know their name but can’t remember it?

If you’ve ever been in that situation then you know the sheer panic that grips you. Your throat clogs with that lump of “oh shit” and your face flushes and your stomach turns upside down with each step that person takes in your direction because you know that you’re going to have to introduce them to your friends. And I’m not talking about a situation where you can simply say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name…” No, you should know this person’s name, no way around it.

I am terrible with names. Truly horrible. You tell me your name and it instantly leaves my brain. I don’t know if it’s because I’m simply not paying attention or what, but each and every time I warn myself, now Angie, listen to this person’s name and without fail, I lose it a second later. And then if you ask me to remember it days or months from that first introduction…well, that’s just a disaster. It’s even worse if I see the person out of context…like a person from work at the mall.

It’s not so bad when I meet up with a person one on one cause I can fake it…I don’t need to say their name in a conversation but when you’re with a group of people and you have to introduce them…well, sometimes I even forget the names of people who I work with for goodness sakes…it must be a nervous tick of mine or something.

And to make matters worse, I have a very distinguishing characteristic that sets me apart from many members of society. It’s a physical feature that is not altogether common…I’m not going to specify because I use a pen name for a reason but suffice it to say when I’m meeting someone for the first time in public I tell them to look for the person with the…blank, blank blank.

Because of this physical feature people recognize me a lot more than I recognize them. It’s unfair really that I, the most socially awkward individual around, has to be cursed with a feature that others remember…so much so that I get people…like complete strangers…coming up to me and talking, waving, or simply tracking me with their eyes, as if I’m supposed to know them…and let me tell you, that does not help my name forgetting issues. As soon as someone waves at me I’m struck with instant panic…oh shit, do I know this person? Should I know their name? Will it be rude if I don’t introduce them? What if I just walk by?

It’s horrible really and something that happens to me a lot. So I put it to you all, how do you remember people’s names? Or are you like me and can’t keep a hold of them to save your life?


  1. I'm reasonably good at remembering names, but if I'm introduced to more than three people at once, I forget them all! It's also very embarrassing when someone I've ony met once or twice remembers my name AND other details and then introduces me to one of their friends - and I can't remember ANYTHING about the person who is introducing me. Thank god that's only happened a couple of times so far.

  2. I am HORRIBLE with names. When I taught high school, I had to use a seating chart every day for months. I learned the "bad" kids' names first because I constantly had to talk to them. The "good" kids were next because I had to call on them all the time. Those poor kids in the middle? They were lucky if I knew their name without looking by the time the semester was over.

    Personally, whenever I meet people, I say straight up that I'm horrid with names and I probably won't remember theirs. On a high note, I remember faces, so I usually don't get thrown with the "Do I actually know this person?" problem.

    *hugs* Just know you aren't alone.

  3. I too do this on occasion. It is quite embarrasing. I don't know why it happens. Something about the person that just doesn't stick in my mind for me to remember their name...I don't know. It's horrible! I can remember phone numbers, my driver's license number, and number of things off the top of my head when asked, but a person's name-I freeze if I don't know them well.
    Don't feel bad. You're not alone Angela :)

  4. Errrm, it does happen to me, however I don't let it get to me as I end up substituting things like Bud or Pal into the converstation in place of thier name. That way it sounds natural without making me feel like an idiot. LOL

  5. I don't think I could get away with calling someone bud or pal lol!

  6. I suck at remembering names, but I'm very good at chatting w/o use of their name. "Hey, how have you been? How's the family? What are you up to?" That sort of thing. General vague questions can get you pretty far. Or if you must ask about the child or spouse, "How's the hubby? How's the little one?" You get the point. :)

  7. I'm awesome with names... if I can write them down. If I don't see your name in writing, I can't remember it at all. I think it may have something to do with my hearing loss... I always use captioning on the TV. But yes. I've also become quite adept at weaseling around actually saying a name I don't remember. I'm sneaky like that.

  8. When I have to introduce someone in a group and I forget their name I usually start introductions and then excuse myself mid-way...total cheese but I seem to get away with it most of the time.