Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Mysteriously, no one every forgot Eddie's name.

Don't you hate when you run into someone at the grocery store and cannot remember her name? You know how you stand there, while she says something chatty, and your mind is saying, "Think, think, think! You know this woman. She is a neighbor. She has three kids and she once brought rice-krispy treats shaped like shamrocks to a Brownie meeting. Think, think, think. You know this!" Meanwhile she chats on about the PTA carnival, remembering to call you by name, using your children's names and even (if she's very good) slipping in your husband's name. Then you feel you are getting closer--it starts with a J. No, maybe a K. Shit. what is her name, and then just as she says your name one more time you give up and say, "See you later," and slink through the grocery store, praying you won't do that weird thing where you manage to run into each other again down every aisle. You may even reconfigure your regular shopping pattern specifically so this won't happen. Don't you hate when that happens?

Later in the day you will remember her name as you are driving around running errands. You will even shout it out, "Debbie! Her name is Debbie!" and you pound the steering wheel and your children will ask you what you are talking about. You will tell them the story and your oldest might even point out the obvious, "Mom, how can you forget your sister's name?"

Well. Okay, maybe I'm not that bad, but pretty damn close. Some will say I am bad at names because I'm self-absorbed. Duh. Some will say it's because I'm getting older and my memory is fading. Again, duh. Some will say almost everyone is bad at this. And that is true enough, except for Mark Walther the principal at my children's school who is so good with names it is somewhat of a savant skill for him.

But for the rest of us, mere mortals, we are not very good at remembering names. That's why I really liked the name badges at the conference we attended last week. They had our names typed fully at the bottom but smack, dab in the middle, in a huge font that even aging eyes could read from a respectable distance, was our first names.

At these conferences you can sit next to someone at lunch and have a really long conversation but then the next day you will see them by the pool and not for the life of you remember their name. We discussed this---Linda from Ireland and I (see I rememberd her name because it was there for me to see the whole time). She said, "I love these name badges because I'm really bad with names. I will remember for years that I met you and you have three children and you live in Chicago but I will forget your name the second we walk out this door. But with this badge I can see you and say ,'Hey Judy' how's it going?" Exactly.

With these name badges I was freed of the task of trying to remember a name. I found that I used this freed-up energy to actually LISTEN to what the person was saying! It was positively exhilirating.
I also liked being called by my name by so many people. It made me feel semi-famous. It was great when the bartender said, "Judy, another gin and tonic" or other conferees would say, "Hey Judy, nice work at the hula hoop contest" or "Judy, you really nailed the Supremes imitation up on stage last night." (It was a really fun conference).

After a few days of this I came up with this brilliant idea--what if everyone had their first name monogrammed on every piece of their clothing!! In big, bold, easy-to-read Arial typeface!!

Think of how much easier life would be. You could see someone at Target--that woman you sort of remember you know from when your kids were in nursery school togheter or is it that you met her at school when you were on that board or maybe your kids played soccer together---and instead of wondering all day long what her name is you could just say it right outloud!

And think of all the other times it would be useful. At a restaurant when the hostess takes your name and it's noisy and you shout your name "Judy!" and they write down "Julie" instead you could just point to your shirt. At Starbucks they'd just look at your name on your shirt and write it on your half decaf/caf, soy, lowfat, extrashot latte cup. Wait--what if we had that order monogrammed on our shirts? And our orders for McDonalds too? No, wait, I'm getting carried away and our shirts would be full of words. I think just our name is good.

I'm sure there are dozens of ways this would improve the quality of life. Not to mention the people who do monogramming--they'd be thrilled with this idea.

Okay, I gotta go--lots of work to be done, shirts to be mongrammed--and I have to find a number for the monogramming lobbyists group.

1 comment:

  1. This could have been an idea coming from Kramer in a Seinfeld episode...