Maybe I have face blindness. Maybe I’m just a dick. But I frequently run into acquaintances and can’t remember their names. If I’m with my wife, she knows what to do: she immediately introduces herself, so they can say their name back. I might look slightly rude for not jumping to it, but at least my secret’s safe. And I know I’m not the only one who needs this help.
Over 14,000 people retweeted this confession by TV writer Dewayne Perkins:
If you’re ever with me and someone comes up to me and starts talking and I don’t introduce you, it’s strictly because I don’t remember their name. So please feel free to be a dope person and introduce yourself so I can then hear said name and pretend I knew it the whole time.— Dewayne “Not Dwayne” Perkins (@DewaynePerkins) October 20, 2018
Hell, this is just the beginning. I may have forgotten more than their name. So don’t just introduce yourself, ask the other person how they know me, or some other small talk to help me place them. Usually that’ll catch my brain up and I won’t have to act vague and standoffish as I try to figure out if this is an old co-worker, uni acquaintance, or Twitter mutual.
And if you’re the person coming up and saying hi, slip in some fucking context. Don’t leave me hanging here taking a memory test. Hide it a little, say it outright, even the playing field with a “I think we met at Tim’s party” as if you don’t know 100 per cent that we played Settlers of Catan together five years ago.
A little reminder will probably bring my memory back, and if it doesn’t, you’ll still give me enough to fake it. Because otherwise, this second conversation isn’t going to build any new memory of you. You’ll just go in my big mental bucket of “people who subjected me to an awkward conversation.” You’ll feel bad, I’ll feel bad, we’ll both wish we’d never met.
I’m trying to change. But I need some help. And trust me, I will always return the favour. I’ll identify myself by name, I’ll bring up the last time we hung out, I’m an expert at bringing my acquaintances up to speed with plausible deniability. Sometimes it’s a touch awkward, but never as awkward as the old “Hey… you!”