Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Bad Aunt

She is me. Having a nice sushi lunch with Tam, Turk and Shootin' Buddy last weekend, I had just realized I'd put entirely too much wasabi on my last bite when a slender, fair-haired teen-aged woman walked over and said, "Hi, Bobbi!"

I went blank. Who do I know who's that young? Names fled me, as they so often do.* I knew her from somewhere....

Between wasabi and panic, my expression gave it away. She looked a bit let down and said, "I'm your niece, remember?"

Right, riiight.... I have two nieces of nearly the proper age except neither one of them is especially light-haired, geeesh, okay, it can't be the one that lives a couple hundred miles away, can it? So that leaves, um, she has an older brother.... I have by now retrieved nearly all the names of relatives in her generation and those of most of their spouses. But she looks much too old to be one of those two; and just who let one of my young nieces out unchaperoned, anyway?

"Sure?" I smiled, "It's good to see you..." Name, name? Nothin', oh, geesh, yes! Got it! She has the same first name as two other cousin's spouses, "K--"

She cut in, "I'm here with some friends and just wanted to say hi!"

About then, a missed bit of wasabi hit the back of my throat, so I simply nodded and she returned to her table. Oh, that went well.

As I returned to my meal, I did a quick mental run-through of ages and....the nieces I remember playing tea-party like, ummm, last week maybe? Wrong. Majorly so: Startin' college. Driving cars. Prolly payin' bills, even.

E-mail from my Mom about not spending enough time around the family arriving in ten, nine, eight.... Wasn't quite that quick showing up but she's right.

They grow up so fast! And they won't wear name badges or even have a consistent hair color, either.
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* Sadly, I need to interact with someone fairly regularly over several months before I am able to reliably associate faces and names. This is a lack of aptitude that leads to no end of embarrassment and social awkwardness. And when it comes to the young and growing, I might as well give up and make a crib sheet with recent photos and names.

P.S. Either I can't spell "wasabi" or both spellcheckers available never heard of the stuff. Hmpf. And it's one of the best things about sushi.

12 comments:

Alan said...

I have exactly the same name/face problem.

Takes me forever to start to remember names.

Bruce B. said...

I too have the name/face problem. Now imagine attending my mother's family reunions where I will likely encounter all of my thirty or so first cousins who I see infrequently. Add in their spouses and kids and my head is ready to explode :-)

reflectoscope said...

Names I can remember. Faces I can remember. I just have a bugger of a time putting them together. I also get introduced to people, and then instantly forget their names. If its any comfort, you're not alone in this.

Jim

Sam said...

It's heck getting old. That's my excuse at least. Except I couldn't tell many of my relatives without a scorecard, either, even in my twenties.

WV: uncents

The anti-incense?

perlhaqr said...

I suck at names. But handles I do quite well at. So, I can tell you that that guy over there is "datamancer", but I'll be fucked if I could tell you his name was "Josh". I have absolutely no idea what the difference is.

Mad Saint Jack said...

I an much better at remembering what guns people own, than what their names are.

D.W. Drang said...

Don't tell anyone, part of the treason we settled in Seattle was that I'm so far away from family I have an excuse not to remember names... ;-)

Mrs. Drang's family is closer, but I use the same excuse...

Stingray said...

Faces stick for me, but names? Same boat, gimme a few months to work on that association. Unless it's the face of one of my thankfully-few younger relatives who have no business going from "that little brat who kept stealing my good toys" to "attending college" or "conversant on good scotch" that damn quick. May as well just tell me they're a stranger for all I'll recognize there.

Joseph said...

I have the same problem, even if I have known someone well before but haven't seen them in a couple of years. Like Jim, I also immediately forget names.

Castr8r said...

I'm glad to see I'm in good company! If I don't work with someone on a regular basis, I lose that name unless there is something special about them. Sometimes it's damn embarrassing.

mts1 said...

That is nothing. You were blind-sided by a growing relative you haven't seen in years. I'm okay with the generation I grew up with, but their kids, well, they've learned that I'm not around enough to know them immediately by sight. I figure the kids sitting next to my cousins are theirs, and we do intros automatically at gatherings to eliminate this sort of thing. But they can pass me in the store and not know me as badly as I can not know them.

If it's really eating you after a couple of days, get a blank card, explain how you had a brain freeze for a second and regret not knowing her on sight since the last time you saw her was pre-puberty, and hope she is doing well at college ABC yadda yadda and a couple other fast facts you might be able to glean from Mom X. Then she knows you care and the guilt is washed free.

If it helps you feel better, I have some aunts thinking I am the Debbil incarnate because I stopped throwing $80 grave blankets on my parent's graves, which I did just to placate them in the first place. This bunch has an offendedness color code that rivals the DHC's. The social graces match that of a darn Japanese tea ceremony. One misplaced sigh or glance and here it comes.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

Sadly, I need to interact with someone fairly regularly over several months before I am able to reliably associate faces and names. This is a lack of aptitude that leads to no end of embarrassment and social awkwardness.Join the friggin' club. The best thing about serving in the military was that everybody wore name tags. The best thing was getting senior enough to refer to butter bars by the moniker "hey, Douchebag"...