It takes Lori and me about 30 seconds to establish psychological dominance over Amanda and George.

We're seated with them at a wedding dinner and introduce ourselves. They do the same. Seconds later, Lori says, "So, Amanda, where are you from?"

Then, on Amanda's face, we see The Look. Seen it a million times before.

A few minutes later, George gets The Look on his face after I say, "George, would you mind passing the cream?"

I catch him trying to peer casually at our name cards, which I've already slipped into my pocket. No, George, I think darkly, you should've been listening!

It happens all the time--people forget our names more or less instantly after we introduce ourselves. We remember theirs, use them, we pass that awkward first few moments after which they can't say "I'm sorry--what was your name again?", and the rest of the night our interlocutors are forced to employ vast amounts of pronouns if they wish to communicate with us at all.

Like: "As you (pointing at me) were saying to her (pointing at Lori), this cake (pointing at cake) is pretty good."

Are we really so forgettable? It seems so. Often people will remember our names at the first meeting, and we'll talk for a while, but at the next meeting, they're stumped. It's obvious they can't remember our names because they greet us with you. Some try to gussy that pronoun up a bit, but no chummy greeting known to man can mask the awkwardness of the Person Who's Been Introduced To You But Can't Remember Your Name (PWBITYBCRYN, also a Welsh word meaning "secluded valley").


* I always greet this PWBITYBCRYN in our building with, "Hey, Earl!" His response is, "Hey, fella!" (When Lori greets him by name, he says, "Hey, lady!")

* The "Drawn-out Youuuu", Here it is in action:

Me: Hey, Frank! How's it going?

Frank: Hey! How are . . . youuuu?

While pronouncing the word "youuuu," Frank looks like a frightened chipmunk. Later the conversation will close with Frank saying, "Okay, great to see . . . youuuu . . . again.

This name-forgetting--well, it's an epidemic. It's to the point where I reintroduce myself to people I've met several times already just to save them the embarrassment: "Hi Steve, I'm Matt, don't know if you remember me from the . . . "

At this point Steve interrupts and say, "Oh, sure, sure, right, no, I remember! Matt! Yes! You are Matt!"

And then a few minutes later I can see his thoughts wander as I'm speaking: " . . . what was it? Mike? Mark?"

If you are like Lori (and, to a lesser extent, me), be sure to partake in the joys of twisting the knife on a hapless PWBITYBCRYN. Once you've safely established the victim's PWBITYBCRYN-hood, use their name as often as possible. Like: "I know a few people named Amanda. Do you know any people with my name?" Watch them squirm. They deserve it.

We recently had the ultimate What-was-your-name-again? experience. There's this guy we know, we'll call him Gary, since that is his name. We've both known Gary for three years, and probably had a dozen social interactions with him. He's been to parties at our house, we've been to parties at his, we've met his wife and kids, etc.

We saw Gary at the Mount Pleasant Festival this June. He was having a tough time. The band he was playing with was snubbing him and things weren't going so great at home. We greeted him by name on the street--Lori gave him a hug--and he told us everything that was going on in his life, some of it pretty deep. It wasn't too happy, but talking it out a little seemed to help him.

As we left, Lori gave him another hug and said, "Oh, well, Gary, I hope things'll turn around for you, and it was great talking with you."

"Yeah," he replied. "I was feeling pretty bad, but you two were here to listen. I really appreciate that. Thanks so much . . . youuuu . . . twoooo."

As the reader can surmise, that finale rather ruined what semblance of a moment may have existed.

After that episode I realized I'd have to come up with a solution, so here's what I do now: First, I always wear a nametag. Next, whenever I introduce myself, I offer my interlocutor several mnemonic devices so he/she has a snowball's chance of addressing me by name five minutes later ("Matt, you know, like door mat, welcome mat, Fotomat, Matt Dillon . . . " Last, I always refer to myself by name. This is awkward at first, but once people catch on, Matt thinks they appreciate the convenience.

Nice talking with you, dear reader, but I must be going. Now, without peeking at the byline--what's my name?

Oh, no--there's that Look . . .