A Memory for Names, or Lack Thereof, and Other “Aging” Outcomes

I think we’ve met before, but I can’t quite remember your name. Sorry about that. I have absolutely no memory for names. Oh, by the way, you might not be aware, but you could get arrested if you walk around outside like that. (Michelangelo’s David, photographed by me at the Accademia Gallery in Florence. I was just kidding about that one. I did remember Dave’s name.)
I think we’ve met before, but I can’t quite remember your name. Sorry about that. I have absolutely no memory for names. Oh, by the way, you might not be aware, but you could get arrested if you walk around outside like that. (Michelangelo’s David, photographed by me at the Accademia Gallery in Florence. I was just kidding about that one. I did remember Dave’s name.)

I have almost no memory for names. It’s embarrassing.

For the past few years, I’ve been blaming such things on old age, but, at least in my case, old age deserves an apology for that. Truth is, I’ve always had a hard time remembering people’s names. My memory for faces is a bit better, but not much.

I usually have to have met someone and been given his or her name at least 27 times before it’s wired into my synapses sufficiently for anything close to near-immediate recall. Just to be clear, by that I mean that I have to have met them on 27 different occasions. Hearing and saying someone’s name 27 times during a single meeting typically won’t do it. Although, repetition during a single meeting might shrink the 27-time threshold for remembering that person’s name somewhat. Maybe down to 24. 

As I said, I’m a little better at remembering faces. I can generally remember that a face belongs to somebody I’ve met after seeing that face a minimum of ten minutes on at least 13 separate occasions.

Alright. I might have exaggerated a tad for effect. The numbers are probably closer to 19 times for names and nine times for faces, but you get the point.

These failings embarrass me. I don’t mind mentioning it here because I’m convinced that no one will ever find this page. However, I don’t want people I’ve met to know that I don’t have the foggiest idea who the hell they are. That’s particularly true if I slept with her at one point. However, that’s such a ridiculously small set of people that I probably shouldn’t worry about it. Sigh.

Hey, You.

If we met before, even possibly multiple times, here’s a hint: If we find ourselves together again at a gathering and I say something like, “Hey, how are you?” I’m probably at a total loss for your name. But at least I remembered that you have a face I think I’ve been in the presence of before. So, there’s that.

If I do remember your name I’ll say something along the lines of, “Hey, Fred. Long time! How are you?” Of course, if I say exactly that and your name is not Fred then I think I’ve remembered your name, but I’m wrong. The point is, if I remember your name, or just think I do, I’ll be so proud of that accomplishment that I’ll want to show it off.

So, if I greet you with a generic “Hey” or “Hi,” please, tell me your name. I don’t know it. And please be patient. If this our second encounter you’ll probably have to tell me your name only 17 more times before I remember it.

Furthermore, please don’t be offended. I don’t intend any affront. Rest assured, you are far from the only person wandering namelessly in the folds of my brain. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. And, please, inform me of your presence every once in a while.

Not Just My Memory for Names

As I said above, despite age not really being primarily to blame for my lack of memory for names, I still publicly blame it. In fact, after I turned 65 I started blaming pretty well all of my faults and failings on my seniority. I don’t think the police will excuse a felony because of my age. So, I’ll try to avoid committing a crime.

But every social faux pas, everything I screw up, and every physical feature that’s gone into decline? Yup, it’s totally because I am entering or have already entered my dotage. Consequently, don’t blame me. Blame time. Yeah, time. That’s the culprit right there.

Farts? Old people get gas. Get over it.

Grey hair? What do you expect for a man my age? (In truth, I got my first white hairs around age 20. But few people who know me now knew me then. So how would they know? Unless, of course they read this. But that’s not going to happen.)

Bad eyesight? Hey, these things happen after a while. (In the case of my eyes, “a while” is roughly the same unit of time as it was for my hair colour.)

If I’m with people and I have to excuse myself to go pee every 15 minutes one day, but only every 9 hours the next? Prostates and bladders. What are you going to do? Can’t live with them. Can’t live with out them. (Yes, I know. Technically, you can live without a bladder and a prostate, particularly the latter if you, unlike me, are a woman. But please grant me a little literary license here. If you’re not happy with what you read here I’ll give you your money back.)

Old Man Walking

I can’t walk as fast as I used to? That’s the joy of my golden years! After all this time, I’ve finally discovered the pleasure of slowing down and truly appreciating the world around me! (To be honest, that’s one of the biggest piles of crap I’ve ever written. And I fear that I might have written a great many enormous piles of crap, but I don’t remember most of them.)

I can’t walk as far as I used to? That’ll happen as you descend into decrepitude. But, hey, if I can’t walk all the way to the one I love, I’ll love the one I’m with. (No, wait. That was the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever written. My love life and the near-vacuum of outer space have much in common.)

I forgot to wish you a happy birthday? Yeah, well, you know. That’ll happen sometimes. Old people forget these things. Wait. What were we talking about? Oh, right. Forgetting to call you on your birthday. Sorry about that. And, by the way, who the hell are you? Did I mention I have no memory for names?

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