What's your name again?

Bret Belden

By Tim Drugan-Eppich
I am horribly scatterbrained, but it hasn’t bothered me in the past because my funniest ideas often stem from not paying attention to what is going on around me.  Nonetheless, lately my rambunctious thoughts have been making it difficult for me to improve my non-existent love life.
This is a difficult issue to explain, so I will give you an example.  A few days ago I was picking my dad up from the hospital where he had something done to his heart.  I’m not sure what with his heart exactly, but that isn’t what this column is about.  Since I hate hospital rooms and was beginning to feel claustrophobic, I decided to wait in the lobby while the nurses did their final checks.
My plan was to pass my time outside where the sun was sinking below the horizon, leaving a sunset that would make even the grumpiest old man concede that not everything was terrible in the world.  On my way through the automatic doors, I noticed a quite stunning young woman sitting at the welcome desk.  So, with my testosterone humming in my ears, I sauntered up and asked her how much she hated her job.
As I have touched upon in the past, my conversational openings are notably terrible, and what follows isn’t much better.  Whenever my mom comments on how poorly dressed I am, I tell her that nobody notices what I’m wearing because they are too busy looking at my mouth, astonished at the garbage that is spilling out of it.  So more often than not, an interaction that begins with two people, ends with me chatting to myself about what a horrible color maroon is.
But lately I have been having phenomenal luck.  I have been seeing conversations go from start to finish while maintaining company the entire time, and the same thing occurred with this female.  Not only did I begin a conversation with her, but I maintained her attention until my dad waltzed by and it was time to drive him home.
I am sure by now you’re wondering why I began this column talking about my brain’s lack of focus, and I appreciate your patience, for we are finally there.  As I walked to the car congratulating myself on being a charming stud worthy of female attention, I realized I had missed an important piece of the puzzle.  In all the questions of asking her about where she went to school, what she was majoring in, and if she saw any horrific stuff working at a hospital, I never found out her name.  I found out she also goes to UNH and a lot of other interesting stuff, but I forgot the most basic human question that other people have figured out by the time they begin kindergarten.  And here is the most painful thing, this isn’t the first time this has happened!
I am no stranger to finding myself in a social situation where I can remember the names of exactly nobody I am with.  This usually leaves me as the friend in the group that resorts to getting everyone’s attention with “Hey, man” or “Look out, Bud” or “How’s it going, Champ?” Because this tactic works out so well, I have never developed the skills or tricks to remember names.  The only thing I remember is a face, which can be frustrating if you don’t know where it is from.
I really began to notice I had an issue when I began college at UMass Amherst and I was quickly being called “Big Dog” by almost everyone on the floor of my dorm.  This was not due to me being big, or a dog, but that was the name I called everyone else.  And it is difficult to ask someone what their name is after interacting with them on a daily basis for months.  This also makes for interesting friend requests on Facebook.  I get a long list of names that I don’t know, and then when I check the photos I end up knowing all of them, and consequently learning their names.
But I have been trying to get better.  I don’t mean get better at remembering names, but better at awkwardly telling people I don’t know their names.  On the whole, people have been nice about it.  Most just laugh and quickly tell me again and we move on with the conversation.  Some though, some like to watch me squirm.
I was partnered up with another quite beautiful young woman for a class project where we had to go around and interview people and then come up with a story in the space of a class period.  Near the end of the class I admitted to this girl that I had no idea what her name was, and she made me try to guess.  Can you get any more demeaning than that?  Here I am, trying to think of every possible name I can, all while she is laughing, giving me hints, and providing me rhyming schemes to figure it out.  Here’s the kicker, she couldn’t remember my name either!  But she unknowingly made her name unforgettable, because every time I try to recall it, all of her hints pop into my head, along with that humbling humiliation.
So I suppose I’ll just have to learn to swallow my pride, because if I don’t, every beautiful woman is going to be known as “Sport” or “Chief.”  And I’ll learn from my mistake with the girl at the hospital and ask everyone their name first, before I begin rambling about whatever nonsense appeases me that day.  But I did happen to tell that girl I write a column for the paper, so maybe she’s reading this.  If so, hi there, my name is Tim, what’s yours?