I have a syndrome; okay, okay, I have several syndromes, but the one that intrigues me at the moment, is my delayed memory syndrome. It’s not just an old coot thing. I’ve had it for decades. And I’m not alone; it’s fairly common with people of all ages.
I’ll run into someone and they’ll say, “Hey Merlin, how’s it going?” That’s the problem; they remembered my name (and face); I just remembered their face, sort of. I expect the name will come to me, so I fake the conversation with lame weather talk, while focusing on coming up with their name or where I knew them from.
I barely hear what they are saying; I’m racking my brain to come up with their moniker; I use the alphabet method of memory stimulation. A as in Alan, Albert? – B as in Bob, Bill. Usually, it doesn’t work, even when I go through the A to Z routine multiple times. I don’t know what their name is; I haven’t heard a thing they said and then comes the final blow, they ask, “What do you think?” (What do I think? About what?) I end up faking it, and say, “I’m not sure.” Sometimes my wife is with me and knows that I’m deep into a delayed memory episode, she’ll try to rescue me and introduce herself to the nameless one, and in hopes they’ll say who they are. But it usually doesn’t work. The person will say, “It’s nice to meet you,” and never mention their name. I guess they expect me to do that.
The encounter finally comes to an end; the “stranger” thinks I’m an idiot who can’t carry on a conversation. I walk away in a daze, still focused on coming up with their name. It sometimes does, now that the pressure is off. But, more and more often, it takes a few days or never surfaces at all. I go into research mode and call friends from the old days and ask, “What’s that guy’s name that used to stop in the office every once in a while, black hair, tall, one ear bigger than the other.” They never know. At least that’s what they say. I think they just love to mess with me.
The cure for these uncomfortable encounters is so simple. All I’d have to do is admit that the person’s name has slipped my memory and ask them who they are. Do I ever do that? Of course not! It seems I’d prefer to have people think I’m an idiot who can’t carry on a simple conversation.