Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who ARE you???

There’s a woman who knows Tim and me really well. Whenever we encounter her, she hugs us and asks about our daughter.

We have no idea who this woman is. She looks really familiar – almost in a tip-of-the-tongue kind of way – but now we don’t know if she looks familiar because we keep focusing on “who on earth is she?” whenever we run into her.

It’s not like she asks us about our family in a vague, generic way. She asks with details. She knows us.

So Tim decided she was a contractor at a former job he held. He told me her name. Let’s call her Hilda. (All names have been changed to protect ourselves from exposure and humiliation.) He told me what job she had. He was pretty sure, so we relaxed when we encountered her. Although not relaxed enough to call her by name.

A couple weeks ago, Tim and I were at a fund raising dinner. A woman approached us and said, “Hi, Tim. Remember me? I’m Hilda from when we worked together at X.” She was even wearing a name tag.

This was a completely different woman!
So now we’re back at square one. I spotted the mystery woman again and decided that I must know her from a former job I held. I asked another friend to secretly look over her way and whisper who she was.

“That’s Margaret.” My informant even gave me some context for Margaret – context is so helpful! – but unfortunately, the context wasn’t specific enough. I need context like “You and Margaret know each other from Sophie’s fourth grade when she took swimming lessons at East Pool.” The context provided was “She does a lot of craft things around town,” not enough to turn on my memory light bulbs.

As I secretly examined Margaret more and more, I decided she’s only a lookalike for the other woman, the mystery woman. They both have gray hair, but Margaret’s is styled more fashionably than the other woman’s. I think. Every time I see one of them, I’m never sure which one I’m actually seeing. Come to think of it, Margaret isn’t as huggy as the other woman. Margaret can’t be the huggy one.

Tim and I went to another big event, and she was there! Hugging us! The not-Margaret, not-Hilda, not-fashionably-styled-gray-haired woman. We are becoming traumatized by this. I can’t even make fake conversation because I can’t place her at all. It’s close; I just need a little hint. I need a magical friend who’ll ask her, “How do you know Barbara and Tim?”

If only we encountered her at a name tag event! Or a sign-in sheet event. Then I would move into espionage mode and track down her identity. Or even if we ran into her at a more specific location, like something you had to be a member of. Then I would memorize distinguishing features and grill other members.
Maybe Tim can secretly take a photo. Maybe I can try sketching her. Then I can secretly show it around to my friends and ask if they know her.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: just ask her! Normally, I would do that. I’d just go into my prosopagnosia/facial blindness story, pretend brazenness, and ask right out. But this woman hugs us! And we’ve faked familiarity enough times that it would look very, very goofy to suddenly have developed amnesia.

If you are a reader of this blog and you have gray hair and you hug me when we see each other and ask about my daughter, please add a comment.
Uh, oh! That might be too many of you! You’re short. I think you’re quite short. Petite. (I think I hug in a downward direction.) You’d better provide a little context; I obviously need help. (And sorry about how I’ve described your hair.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry, Barbara - I don't even know you, but I have ZERO sympathy with you here.

    Think about ALL the time and energy you and Tim have WASTED (yes...WASTED) when 5 SECONDS would cure the problem.

    The next time you see her, just say, "Look this is SUPER embarrassing - and I'm always happy to see you and enjoy your hugs and appreciate your interest in me and my family. But - I'm so sorry - I just don't remember your name and how we know each other. Could you help a senile old lady out, please??"

    And...if she goes away in a huff - your problem will be solved AND WHY SHOULD YOU GIVE A SH*T??

    Honestly, a huffy attitude here is HER problem - NOT YOURS!!! If someone did this to me (OR YOU!) - wouldn't you just laugh and provide the requested info - no hard feelings? Why don't you give HER the same benefit of the doubt? She SEEMS awfully nice, right?? Well...nice people are VERY tolerant of other people's flaws!

    The next time you see her - JUST DO IT!!

  3. P.S. I even find myself wondering if you wrote the post because (subconsciously??) you anticipated what your readers would say in response. And that would provide you with the nudge to do what - in your heart - you KNOW is the solution to the problem.

    1. You're right about giving her the benefit of the doubt. That might be enough to conquer my fear ... which I have made worse by writing this (about her hair! How could I??) and what if she's read it? Actually, I've received comments from other readers who have encountered rebuke for admitting their memory lapse. That actually happened to me once. But, I'll give it a go... and report later.

  4. I was starting to think it was me until you said she was short. :)

    1. Never you! You have fortunately entered my long-term memory!

  5. Tell her you want to take a selfie with her to send to Sophie. Then ask her for her email address so you can send her a copy -- or you can tell her you'd like to email her a web link to something amazing that Sophie is involved in. Then you've got her email, and hopefully her name is in it and it is not something like craftlady@ (but if it is, google her email and see if you come up with the identity.) Good Luck from the other one in London.

    1. This is pretty much what I was going to suggest. And thanks for naming my facial memory problem.

      But probably Kate is right. Just ask. If you must, tell her you'd assumed you'd remember when you got home but didn't. Then say that then it got embarrassing to ask because you hadn't the first and second times.
      If everyone had as distinguishing a feature as your hair, this would not be a problem.


Sharing Button