“Nice to meet you, Molly,” I said with the explicit intention of repeating her name in order to remember it before telling myself, “Will, remember what her face looks like. Do not forget what Molly looks like.”
Less than an hour after, I found myself saying, “Wait, who is Molly?” after someone told me we had to wait for her before taking off in our Uber. This was soon followed by a series of “Are you serious, Will?” and “Dude, you literally just met her.” So with a heavy heart and a short memory, I finally had to admit to myself what I’ve known for the better part of a decade: I’ll never remember anyone’s name ever again.
When I was a freshman in college and Facebook was actually cool, I spent more time studying the names and faces of the people in my corridor more than time I spent in the actual stacks. For every Tim and Matt, I’d confuse them with a Nick and an Eli. “Jessicas” (which there were, like, four of) always turned into “Megans” before someone would correct me with a look on their face that screamed, “Remember our names, asshole.”
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my then-girlfriend would haul me to any and all of her sorority events that were filled with identical brunettes all dressed in powder blue KKG gear in the middle of a dark bars. And when you add half of a fifth of Early Times whiskey to the mix, I was just rolling the dice by calling everyone a hybrid of “Jessica” and “Jennifer” in hopes that the noise of the bar would drown out the fact that I had no fucking clue what their names actually were.
This was only amplified by the countless nights I’d obliviously introduce myself to a girl I had met countless times before only to walk home from the bar getting lectured on how I’m a dick because I’ve “met Courtney so. many. times.” Helpless, I’d accidentally do it again just a week later at a house party filled with a bunch of people I’d seemingly already have met.
I don’t know if I have early-onset Alzheimer’s or if I hit my head one night after drinking too many Dark & Stormies, but something about remembering names in the midst of a social situation simply escapes me. Sure, I can list the batting order of the 2006 Detroit Tigers and I know that Larionov, Fetisov, Fedorov, Kozlov, and Konstantinov made up the Russian Five. But once I walk up to a table of mutual friends at a bar on a mid-summer Saturday afternoon, everyone becomes a face without a name.
“I’m sorry, what was your name again?” is a phrase I’m all too familiar with and have no shame dropping twenty minutes after engaging with someone. I’ve even gotten to the point where I drop a “I probably won’t remember that” after people introduce themselves to me. While it’s normally greeted with a look of “You serious?”, I’ve found it’s just better to be on the same page regarding my non-existent active memory.
Now, amidst all the rehearsal dinners and weddings my life is commanding of me, I’m reeling. Between the over-consumption of champagne and wedding parties all dressed identically, I don’t know which way is up anymore. It’s like I’m the president and I need intelligence whispered into my ear seconds prior to shaking hands with everyone I approach. But instead, I just replace everyone’s actual name with a “Hey, you!” or “How ya been, man?” until someone else joins the conversation and I can ride in the wake of them dropping the name of the person in question.
Yeah, I’ve tried to download apps like Luminosity and Elevate in a desperate attempt to train my brain, but before I know it, I’m scrolling Instagram looking at photos of Australian bathing suit models and wedding hashtags for people I’ve never met before. At this point, I can’t tell if I’m dumb, have Attention Deficit Disorder, or am just completely apathetic when it comes to building meaningful relationships. I could adopt the “No New Friends” technique of going through life, but you know, that whole “networking” thing seems to be important these days.
I don’t know, maybe I just need to make my girlfriend hold up flashcards before every wedding, shower, or function we attend. Until then, I’ll just wait until James and Claire add me on Facebook so I can match names to faces. Or was it John and Caroline? .
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