The first thing to understand is that, in the receiving line at my wedding, my wife needed to introduce me to some of my relatives. In my defense, my aunt Frieda looked a lot like Henry Kissinger and, well, I just wanted to be sure.
It’s not that I have a faulty memory. I have no problem remembering the jingles for carpet cleaning companies and car dealers from 50 years ago, and I know the names and occupations of everyone on that three-hour tour. I remember that Joe Friday’s badge number was 714 and that Contadina put eight great tomatoes in that itty-bitty can. I know to call 761-3489 if I need a ride home…in 1960.
Still, there’s something about faces that I simply cannot master. A stranger once started up a conversation with me in the hardware store and, yeah, he looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite remember where I had met him. Then he said, “Well, see you on Monday,” and I realized it was my boss.
In my defense, he was wearing a hat.
At weddings and funerals, old people will come up to me and ask, “You don’t remember me, do you?” And they’re right. I don’t. Of course, these are people I never see except at weddings and funerals, so our connection isn’t very deep, is it?
It’s getting to the point that I need to bring a puppet to social events, just so I can ask any unrecognized person, “Oh, have you met Mr. Wiggles?” Not only will that trick people into re-introducing themselves, but I suspect I’ll have fewer social interactions of any kind after a while. Win and win.
Well, it’s not completely a win, because I’m also challenged on the other end of the spectrum. Somehow, as I age, I keep thinking I recognize people I have never met before. There are only so many shapes and sizes of faces and colors for hair, so everyone starts to look familiar after you’ve been around the block a few times. For me, though, people start looking exactly like someone I know or, more likely, knew.
“Look, there’s the guy we knew from the parents’ group at camp.”
“No. He died.”
“No, he didn’t. There he is.”
“That isn’t him. He died.”
“No, he didn’t. I don’t recognize people and I recognize him, so he didn’t die.”
“You’re wrong. He died.”
“Yeah, right. If he died, what’s he doing here?”
Yes, it sounds really stupid when you put it in writing, but I guess you had to be there.
Then there are the times I introduce myself to someone who looks exactly like one of the girls my daughter went to school with…20 years ago.
“Jane, how are you?”
“I’m not Jane. You have me confused with someone else.”
“No, don’t you remember me? From when I knew you in high school?”
“You’re thinking of somebody else.”
“No, don’t you remember me watching you in the assembly hall?”
It’s amazing how quickly people can get a restraining order.
Clearly, I need an update to my facial recognition software. In the meantime, if you happen to run into me and I recognize you, it’s only because we’ve never met before. And if I don’t recognize you, that’s only because we are very, very close.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.