Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Worlds Collide

or Apologies To Amber

I was in the new area of Baltimore called Inner Harbor East doing some post-movie browsing in a chi-chi store when a woman approached me and asked me if I was yellojkt. Since I was wearing a Georgia Tech jacket I thought maybe she had asked if I was a yellow jacket. I looked back puzzled. She said “I’m Josh’s wife.” I thought back searching my memory banks for fellow alumni named Josh.

My wife jabbed me in the ribs and said “Your blog dummy.” And then it all clicked into place. This was Amber, the very lovely wife of internet celebrity Josh Fruhlinger. The Amber I had met just a few months earlier at Josh’s Jeopardy party. A person whose picture is on my blog.

I felt so embarrassed. We exchanged pleasantries and I told her to say “Hi” to Josh for me. I just want her to know that it’s me not her. I have a mind like a sieve that gets very disoriented when I run across people in unfamiliar contexts. I have a couple of equally embarrassing stories like that that I tend to pull out.

The classic one happened in college. My fiancĂ© (now wife) had brought up her brother to Atlanta for week one summer. We decided to take him downtown to see the sights. We took the subway downtown and were coming out of the station when a large black woman started waving at me. My fiancĂ© looked at me and I looked at this lady until she said “You don’t recognize me. You’re the turkey club.” And then it clicked. Every day for lunch I went to the cafeteria and had the same thing. A turkey club sandwich on a hoagie roll with mayo, lettuce and tomato. And this woman was the cafeteria worker that made it for me. Every day.

The really brutal moment was Monday at lunch when I had to go in for lunch. When I got up to the front of the line, she yelled to the whole line “Hey, I saw this guy downtown Saturday and he didn’t recognize me.” The whole line game me the raised eyebrow stare. I just grinned foolishly and took my turkey club.

The other time was right after I graduated from college and moved back to my hometown for a job. I hadn’t been to a dentist the entire time I was in college which is a ridiculously long time. My wife suggested I use the dentist she had used as a kid, so I made an appointment.

So I’m in the chair and the hygienist started the cleaning. Then she goes “Hey yello! How have you been? I haven’t seen you since your graduation party.” I just stared blankly. She sees my bafflement and introduces herself. Still no click. Then she says “I was dating Bob back then.” And at least I remembered Bob. Bob was the salutatorian of our graduating class. The guy that at our five year reunion got drunk and accused me of ruining his life. But I still couldn’t place her which is very embarrassing when the person with her fingers in your mouth know you but you don’t know them.

There you have it. If you run across me in real life and even if I have met you before, feel no shame in saying “I read your blog, dummy.” I need those kind of anvil-heavy contextual clues because I truly am that clueless.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Do you have trouble recognizing people you should know?

10 comments:

jfruh said...

Ha! Amber told me about this last night and was not offended in the least. She had a very nice time talking to your wife and said that they immediately felt a kinship in that they both often help their husbands navigate social situations.

2fs said...

I think contextual recognition (or decontextual lack of recognition) is a pretty common thing. If you see someone only in a particular situation, that's understandable. When that happens to me, my problem is that I think I know who it is, but I'm also thinking no, it's just someone who looks similar...

baltimorediary said...

This happens to me All. The. Time. The worst example was running into my boss in a supermarket back when I lived on Long Island.

It's also bad because I'm a relatively visible person in BCPSS so a lot of people know who I am by sight, but I don't necessarily know all their names, and I'm rarely sure if I SHOULD know their names, or if this is just someone who knows me from staff development or some such. Fortunately, now I'm pretty good at faking it until the clues pop into place.

Mooselet said...

I will often recognize the face but cannot put it into context, like "I know I know you but I don't know how." I'm really bad with names, too, so I say a person's name several times when I first meet them to help me remember. "So nice to meet you, Michelle" "Thanks so much Michelle" "So Michelle..." "See you later Michelle". I'm sure I sound retarded but I can't remember otherwise.

yellojkt said...

Josh,
Women married to nerds and geeks carry a special burden. You are a lucky guy.

mooselet,
I've been practicing the "say the name eight times" trick as much as I can. It still only helps a little.

TBG said...

I read your blog, dummy.

Flasshe said...

What 2fs said. It's all contextual. I've seen both my eye doctor and my hairdresser (stop snickering!) at my neighborhood pizza joint and didn't immediately recognize them. "Hmmm, he/she looks familiar..." I see other shoppers all the time at the grocery store that I'm sure I should recognize but don't. Neighbor? Old high school classmate? Somebody who works at another store? Who knows. It's hell growing old.

Thumper said...

I don't even recognize my own son (at first) when running into him someplace I don't expect him to be. About the only person I will recognize in unexpected places is the Spouse Thingy, but then he better explain why he's where he's not supposed to be...

A Free Man said...

I think it could have something to do with age. I'm officially moving in to my late 30's this week and I find my brain slowly slipping.

What was I talking about?

Are you ready for a spanking on Saturday?

Read/Think/Live said...

One time I was in my local pharmacy--I mean, the one about 2 blocks from my house--and I saw a man at the check-out counter who was familiar in a very un-familiar way. I felt that I had definitely seen him before, and more than that, I felt that I didn't like him. But I had no idea of what his name was or where I knew him from, or why I had that negative feeling about him. I just stared at him for as long as I could and wracked my brain. At some point, possibly an hour or two later, it clicked in. He was a local community theater actor who had played the villain in a children's theater production my daughter had acted in. I was so relieved to remember that! I really didn't know him at all, and it wasn't him that I disliked, but only the character he had played on stage.