Monday, July 12, 2010

Another Case of Mistaken Identity

I don't know if you've noticed, but I am absolutely inept when it comes to remembering names. I seriously have to meet someone as many as six times before I can put face and name together. The base of it is a difficulty in remembering people's faces. Some faces stand out, of course, and I remember them even without meeting the person, but more often I can't form a picture of someone until we have met several times. At that point, I can start putting a name to the face.

And all of this can all add up to painful social situations.

Today I was in the bookstore, and a woman and I were about to cross paths. I stood back to let her pass, but instead, she asked me how I was and how my classes were going.

Cue the spinning world. I could not identify the woman; I had no idea that I knew her. And what was worse, my brain simply could not find any reference point for her. I was floored.

I feebly tried to come to and ask her how she was, but by this time, she had seen that I was lost and she had moved far enough away that chasing after her to say, "Hey! Wait! Who are you?" would not have worked.

And so I left the bookstore and went back to my car.

And my brain was still churning. And after a while, it found a possible match: the new professor who will start teaching Italian with us in the fall. But the match didn't fit easily - I tried to think about the woman's face, her haircut and the color of her skin, the fact that she was wearing glasses - and it was only a weak match with the new professor. So then the self-doubt did the rest of the work and made a fit.

By early evening, I had convinced myself enough, and I decided to call the new professor and apologize for my brutta figura - the bad impression I had made.

So I tried to call. And after I asked for the professor, the call dropped. I tried to call again, but no one picked up. I called my dad to tell him about the huge mistake I had made. And then a miracle - the professor was calling on the other line. And you know that when I apologized for my behavior in the bookstore, she told me that it couldn't have been her - she had been home all day.

The positive twist to the story is that the new professor and I will be going to lunch tomorrow. That will be fun, and this will be meeting number four, so hopefully I will not make any more identity mistakes about her.

But I still don't know who the woman in the bookstore was. My brain has hit on another possible match, a woman with whom I took many classes in grad school, but I am not listening to my brain try to fit the puzzle together this time. I can't believe I wouldn't have known this woman if I had seen her. And besides, I don't have her phone number to call and apologize.

Merz - My Name is Sad and At Sea

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