I've been known to be a bit of a scatterbrain. More like a Tilt-A-Whirl brain. My brain is a clown car full of things to do, "Simpsons" trivia, karaoke anecdotes, the location of every item I've ever owned in my equally scatterbrained house, the first four notes of every song ever written ready to be referenced while playing SongPop, etc.
With all this stuff going on inside, it's a miracle I can find my way home, let alone remember the full details about everyone I've ever met. I am terrible, awful, shamefully, woefully bad at remembering people's names. It makes me feel like a heel, because usually the other person comes up to me like, "Sarah Sepanek! Class of '98, 5-foot-3, whose favorite color is yellow, how ya doin'!" I can only return with a feeble "Hey ... person with a face. How's your face?"
I know lots of people. I've casually encountered even more people. The Mahoning Valley is chock full of people that I repeatedly bump into. So, why can't I keep them straight? I remember the lyrics to the song on the tape that came with my rock 'n' roll Barbie doll. I can recite any episode of "Roseanne" ad infinitum. Yet, the names of the smiling, friendly faces I encounter elude me.
Maybe it's hereditary. I recall my mother stocking up on ginkgo biloba in an attempt to sharpen her memory. But yet, my dad's only frame of reference is the world exactly as it was 35 years ago, i.e. when he gives me directions according to where Richfield Coliseum used to be. He asks my mom where's his brown suit he wore to his graduation, and can recall it in detail, but doesn't remember that my mom got rid of it decades ago. Call it selective dad memory.
This fault of mine became even more apparent while I was visiting the Canfield Fair last weekend. I bumped into at least a dozen people - most of whom I was able to offer a name and details assuring them I knew who they were. For example, outside the restroom by the giant pumpkins: "Hey, Allisun! How are you? How's your job at University Pizza? I love your new haircut!" I even remember she spells her name with a "u." Very proud of myself. But later, down the midway, I saw a tall dude with a beard that I KNEW I was supposed to know. But his name and connection to me was nowhere to be found in my synapses. I racked my brain, went through my phone - nothing. So, sorry, beard dude.
Also, at an art gallery opening last weekend, I was forced to feign familiarity with a face or two. I could see the person's face in a setting, and my brain says "you saw this person before at the Lemon Grove and/or Youngstown State." Or, "this person is friends with your friend Mike or Jenna" or something. But their name or any details about them are totally gone.
Ditto when I happenstanced upon a party being thrown by my new neighbors. I saw friends on the front porch, who were in the top tier of my Friend Dossier, but inside the house dwelt people who I knew were in a band, but what band? Worked at a coffeshop, but what was their name? Was this guy's girlfriend, but what's her name? Are they still together? Faux pas aplenty are at risk.
I'm going to have to find a way to remedy this. Facebook helps, since it can match a name to a face, or vice-versa, while I'm in the bathroom or corner furiously tapping my phone. I return, assured of the person's timeline full of information. Maybe the phone can help in another way - I should start keeping the dossier in my Notes app instead of in my unorganized brain.
Another fault of mine (well, considered a fault by SOME people) is that I constantly name-drop. I get teased about the litany of names and connections that come when I tell a simple story. "Oh Joe, the guy from this place, who used to date this girl and knew this guy who was in this band who one time was blah blah blah ..." Six degrees of the Mahoning Valley. Well, naysayers, this "name-dropping" is my way of reorganizing my mental who's-who list out loud. Just sit there and bear with me.
Maybe someday I will be better at recognizing people. Because I have sympathy for the memory-deprived, I offer a mnemonic device to remember my name with a rhyme. Next time you see me, ask me my name. I promise you won't forget. Just be patient while I add you to my dossier.