Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I don't know which was funnier, the stuff he said or the wandering around.

Much has been made of the moment in the second presidential debate when John McCain nodded his head toward Barack Obama and said, "That one there." It was an odd thing to say in a very odd debate, I think we would all agree. What did he mean by that? Was it a way of saying "That punk over there" or a way of pointing out that he was the senior member on stage? Was it simply a disrespectful thing to do by not using his name or title? I wasn't really sure but it was noteworthy and gave Saturday Night Live even more material.

I was reminded of the strange expression this past week at church. Our minister was wrapping up the Christmas pageant by thanking all the adults involved...she thanked them all by name and by title, "Thanks to Pam for leading the choir, to Jan for playing the piano, and of course, big thanks to our writer...." and here she hesitated, struggling to remember Becky's name. We all held our breath. It was clear she could not remember her name. Finally, she just said, "That one there," which got a laugh since it came close enough on the heels of the debate for all of us to get it.

I totally sympathize with my minister (who by the way is about my age). She managed to forget the name of a very prominent church member, the woman who has written the play for about 10 years, who is also a friend, and member of a book club we all belong to. I feel her pain.

Yes, most of us are really, really bad at remembering names. I don't know why that is. I am not talking about forgetting the name of someone you have only met once or twice casually. I am not talking about forgetting the name of someone you knew a long time ago and just ran into. I am talking about forgetting the names of people very close to you.

Don't worry, I already checked and this is, unfortunately, fairly normal memory loss. It's like when a word is on the tip of your tongue and you can't retrieve it. You will eventually, it just takes longer.

This happened to me the other day over coffee with my Coffee Friends. I literally forgot Coffee Friend 2's name. I said, "Hey, I came by the other day and...." I looked at my friend helplessly. "Val," she supplied, "Yeah, Val was out front shoveling," I went on as if I hadn't just done that.

But alas, she would have none of it. "You just forgot my name you crazy old hag!"-- she called me out on it. Errr, yes, ummm, maybe I did.

Another time I called my good friend Martha. I have known her 12 years. I was expecting to hear her voice but her husband, Dan, answered. I was so flummoxed by having him answer that I forgot his name. I've known him 12 years too. They are among our closest friends. We all have dinner out at least once a month. But I could not think of his name. I panicked and said the first thing I could think of, "Umm, is your mother home?"

He chuckled, "No, I'm 55, I don't live with my mommy anymore."


So it was with great empathy that I watched my minister make this mistake on Sunday. And since misery loves company, it made me fell a little better because at least I have not done this in front of a large crowd. Yet. And when she said, "That one there," a light when on in my head.

John McCain did not call Barack Obama "That one there" as some sort of old man disrespecting a young man or as an insult or as a way to demean him.

He simply forgot his name.

As I am more than 20 years junior John McCain I can hardly hold that against the guy.

Still, I didn't vote for ole' what's his name. I preferred that one there.

1 comment:

  1. I can more or less imagine how that would happen, although I do remember the license plate numbers of all the cars my parents had.
    I don't know which should cause more worries.