I started forgetting names a long time ago. First it was people I had just met, but then it was old friends and family, so I just told them they knew who they were. My aunt got so tired of trying to fish out a name from her memory she would go through all the family names and then give up, because they obviously did know who they were.
Then common words started leaving. I began pointing to what I wanted, and calling it “that thing”. I began to realize that it was nouns that decided to disappear, so I decided to just use adjectives, because Stephen King said to stay away from adverbs.
It was a disturbing new phenomenon as I had always prided myself on my vocabulary and ready memory. Numbers and dates remained in my mind to the extent that I would cheerfully interrupt to correct the speaker and in the process let them know how truly brilliant I was. It was never appreciated. I had trained to do this in school by nearly memorizing my homework and then frantically waving my hand in the air to be called upon first, so that I could get it over with and then relax during the rest of the class. It worked too.
Aside from that, I’m a little fussy about the missuse of words, I have to admit. For the most part, I just grit my teeth and smile because I was raised to be polite. And I always pick out the only misspelled word in a sign, letter or book, and it does grate on my nerves. I loved my English classes, and couldn’t wait for the spelling bees so that the girls could trounce the boys because as everyone knows, boys are much better at math than at spelling.
You can get around name introduction of strangers to one another by just bringing them together, smiling warmly and asking “Do you two know each other? You really should.” At that point, they smile back at you and at each other, and repeat their names. Then you just leave them alone to sort it out. If there’s enough time I go through the alphabet hoping I’ll land on the right letter which will miraculously trigger the correct name.
Numbers and dates are easy. You just transfer them onto the next year’s calendar, and remember to look each day so as to remember the birthday, anniversary or what not you need to send a card to.
I have determined that our minds are like computers. They get overcrowded with a lot of nonsense we don’t really need. You have to tune them up and defragment them often to keep them running smoothly.
So if I run into you at the grocery store sometime and take on a blank look, just remember that I will probably remember your name sometime in the middle of the night, and will swear to remember it if I ever see you again.