I can’t say I ever had a mind like a steel trap. Even “back in the day” it was more like those plastic live-catch traps where the mouse grabs the bait and skedaddles. But my mind definitely used to be more trap-like than it is now. My modern day brain, specifically my memory, is more like a cheese board where the only selection is Swiss.
The Crappy Aging Memory Phenomenon (CAMP for short) has hit me especially hard when it comes to remembering names. It’s not that I don’t try. When I’m introduced to someone I repeat their name several times, and then try to create some sort of mnemonic device to get it to stick. The info is gone the moment I turn away.
I’m supposed to go to a fund-raiser for a worthy cause tonight. Normally I’d be looking forward to a night on the town, but I’m dreading this because I’m afraid I’ll run into The Mystery Woman. She’s a casual acquaintance of mine who we’ll call Bertha. We’ll call her that because I can’t remember her name.
Something about this woman triggers my CAMP symptoms like nobody else.
We go out to eat with a group of friends every Friday night, to a revolving roster of restaurants. Each time we go to Vinnie’s Cafe, Bertha The Mystery Woman is there. She’s fine to talk to; we chat about our kids and life in general and she always compliments me on the column I write for the local paper, so I know she has excellent taste. She introduced me to her husband the first time I saw her at that restaurant, but I was so busy trying to remember her name that I failed to register his. Nobody else in our group knows them, which adds to the stress. I’m afraid one of my friends will wander over and I’ll have to offer an introduction or look like a total social doofus.
All the time we’re talking I’m wracking my brain for some clue as to her identity, and asking myself:
- Where did we meet?
- What do we have in common?
- Why aren’t people forced to wear name tags when out in public?
- WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR NAME?
The first time I bumped into her I should have admitted I couldn’t remember her name and asked what it was. Now this charade has gone on so long that I can’t possibly ask.
I saw Bertha at this same fundraiser last year, and the stress of discovery ruined the evening. I figure chances are good she’ll be there again tonight, and I plan to duck behind a potted plant as soon as I spot her. That way I can avoid the whole issue.
I only hope the waiter will find me behind my ficus. I have a feeling I’m going to need a drink.