Normally, I am really good with names and faces. But the brain is a funny thing.
A few weeks ago I spoke at a women’s conference in St. Louis. A few minutes before my last session began, I noticed a woman walk in the room and sit in the front row. Immediately I knew I’d seen her before.
She asked me a question about blogging and after I’d answered her, I said, “Do I know you? You look so familiar!”
She said I looked familiar, too, and we began the “Where do we know each other from?” game. She lived in St. Louis, not Kansas City. But then she said she used to live in Kirksville. “Oh! I went to college in Kirksville,” I said. I asked if she worked on campus. She said no, but then asked if I went to church while I lived there.
Aha! That was it. Mark and I had gone to her church, and we actually had mutual friends. (And, as I remembered as soon as she said her name, her husband owned the pancake place in town that was open all night.)
We laughed about what a small world we live in. And then I kept laughing, to myself, about how weird my brain is.
I hadn’t seen this woman in at least 11 years and may not have even ever talked to her, but the second I saw her, I knew I knew her. And yet, just a month before, I’d completely forgotten a woman I’d met and talked with.
This spring I hosted an (in)RL gathering. About 15 women attended, and we had a great time talking, eating and drawing names for tons of prizes. With such a small group I was able to meet everyone and had every intention of following up with them in the days following the event.
However, the night after the event, my husband and I had the worst fight of our entire marriage. One week later, my brother-in-law was killed in a motorcycle accident. And two weeks after that, I went back to work and threw my entire family into [temporary] chaos.
As it turns out, my brain couldn’t handle all that and the result was the complete loss of memory regarding some of the wonderful ladies who attended my (in)RL gathering. I didn’t realize this, though, until about a month ago.
A woman from my church came into my office a couple times to print things for a women’s event later that week. We talked while she was there. But it wasn’t until I saw her stand up and speak at the event several days later that it hit me. Like a brick. Between the eyes.
I’d met her before! She came to my (in)RL event! And then I acted like I’d never met her when she came to my office!
Ohhhh, I felt so awful. After the women’s event, I went up to talk to her. I wanted to apologize, to acknowledge how rude I had been by forgetting her, to explain that my life had exploded and it wasn’t personal and I didn’t mean to offend her and – but I didn’t. I couldn’t think of words that didn’t sound lame, honestly. So instead, I told her how much I enjoyed what she shared with us (which I did!) and awkwardly patted her back.
I patted her back! WHY did I do that? I’m not a back patter! Then again, I’m not usually a name or face forgetter, either. Clearly this entire year has thrown me for a loop – a forgetful, awkward loop.
At this point I’m not even sure how to fix the situation – or if it needs to be fixed at all. Maybe she didn’t realize that I’d forgotten her, or maybe she’d forgive me quickly if I explained that my brain spazzed out without even giving notice. Maybe – just maybe – I’ve blown this whole thing out of proportion.
This story has no life lesson, no clever analogy, no witty conclusion. It’s just an excellent example of how I am so far from perfect that pretending I can ever achieve it is ridiculous. I am messed up and messy. And, aside from possibly offending a very nice lady, I’m mostly okay with that.
I might just be working on some memory devices, though. Just in case.
Have you ever forgotten meeting someone? How did you recover from it?
This post is part of 31 Days of Giving Up on Perfect. All month long, I’ll be writing about my fight against perfectionism and my quest to get on with life, already. For more 31 Days, visit The Nester.
I am terrible at remembering people – in the opposite way from what you described. I recognize faces, and I recognize names, but I never put names with faces. And I don’t always know where I know the face from; only that I know it.
It’s worst at places I frequent – the little league ballpark and school. I see these people all the time, but most are just in passing – there’s no need for us to meet. So then I see them again later and think I know them when I don’t. Or I assume I don’t know them and later find out I do.
Although, there are plenty of times when I have conversations with people and they ask about my kids by name and they ask about something that had happened in our family a while ago, and we chat for a good 5-10 minutes, and part with “it was so good to see you again!” and I walk away having NO IDEA who I just talked with, or where I know them from.
If it’s someone I really recognize and I KNOW I know them, I’ll just straight up ask. But I phrase it so the memory is on them…”I know you from somewhere, but my brain is on the fritz today. Where do I know you from?” Then I let them sort it out and I act embarrassed (usually not an act) and I apologize profusely.
What you described is pretty much how my husband is. But I think your approach of honesty and profuse apology sounds like a good solution! :)
This post made me smile inside. And then it made me think of how typical and funny reality is. Like, we all experience these things, and that’s why it’s so great hearing it happening to someone else. And then I think about all the times I’ve wanted to kick myself for things I’ve said/done the last week and go, “phew, I’m not the only one. Tis life.” :)