I always get annoyed when people don’t remember my name (it’s Marilyn) once we’ve been introduced and spoken at length, sometimes multiple times over a prolonged period. I’m okay with someone forgetting my name if we just met briefly and barely spoke. That’s totally understandable. But if we’ve interacted a bit, I do feel a bit slighted. I end up reasoning that if I can remember someone’s name, they should be able to remember mine–simple enough, right?
Truth be told, I have a very good memory. I remember faces, names, numbers, a random thing someone told me at a party–if I heard it or saw it, chances are that I’ll remember it. In university, my friends would often shout out phone numbers for me to memorize as we packed ourselves into cabs, so that we could call people on our way to pick them up (we never thought to bring a paper and pen, and of course we didn’t have the fancy smart phones that we have now). So, I understand that I can usually remember things better than most; however, I still find it rude when PEOPLE don’t remember OTHER PEOPLE.
Back to when I was in university. I had a pretty big crush on a guy named Dave, who was even more appealing because he was in a fraternity called The Kappa Alpha Society. At the time, they were very cool. Very mysterious. Don’t all girls like that at some point? Anyway, Dave and I hung out a few times at parties and a couple of clubs. Nothing ever took off between us, but at the very least, we did have a few conversations and we knew many of the same people.
By the time I had given up on anything happening between Dave and me, a friend of mine tricked me into going to Dave’s birthday party (that’s another story), and so there I was trying not to kill my so-called friend-who-tricked-me, and appear cool in front of Dave. I was minding my own business on one side of the dance floor, when Dave saw me, leapt across the dance floor, took my hand and kissed the top of it and said, “It’s lovely to see you again, Meredith.”
Meredith? Who was Meredith? Apparently, he thought I was. Other than starting with the same letter and containing eight letters each, Marilyn and Meredith were not at all same sounding or same looking names.
I yanked my hand back, turned around and left. I had been spending some of my time with someone who didn’t even know who I was. It really offended me.
And so, when people don’t remember my name it bothers me. It’s rude. It really is a very simple thing–if someone can remember your name, you should be able to remember theirs.
Having said this, an incident like this could also provide a lot of ammunition for comedic writing. A guy not remembering a girl’s name or vice versa could be very funny given the right circumstances, as could the confusion of a mixed-up name or a character’s reaction when she/he finds that he’s been perceived to have a different name by someone. This is one of the things that I love about comedic writing–that you can turn something offensive and while it remains offensive, you can infuse a situation with laughter and hilarity when writing it into a story. They say that all good comedy comes from pain, and while that may not totally be true, I feel it can be said that awkward moments and certainly unpleasant ones can be great inspiration for comedic moments in story.