Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's In a Name? A Lot!

“It’s Eileen.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Eileen. The name of the woman that taught that parenting class. It’s Eileen.”
“What are you talking about that right now for?”
“You asked me the other day, remember? You wanted to know the name of the woman who taught the class and neither of us could remember. And now I remember. It’s Eileen. It just popped into my head just now. Eileen. That’s her name.”
“I don’t need it now.”
“Right. But there it is. Eileen. Just thought you’d like to know.”

That’s the problem with names. Your mind goes absolutely blank when your mouth is ready to blurt it out. But when you don’t need the name anymore, there it is blinking in your head.

Names are so important. It has been said that the greatest sound a person can hear is the sound of his own name. Some are better at giving that thrill than others. I am definitely deficit in name remembering while my husband, Brad, on the other hand, is very good at remembering names and using them. He says I should just push through my forgetfulness and say the first name that comes to me and it will probably be right. So I tried it.

“Hi, Nancy.” I said with conviction.
“I’m Arlene.” Was the cold reply.
Failing to use a person’s name is not good social strategy, but it is much worse to use the wrong name.

“Experts” have created lots of tricks to aid in name remembering. One is to say a person’s name directly after being introduced and then think of a physical feature that person has in relation to his name. Perhaps Charlie has charcoal colored hair or Carol might have an oval shaped mouth and you can imagine her singing. Ben might have a bend in his nose or Alice might have a lisp. But what do you do with Alexandria or Josephine or Harold? And it’s not like the new person is going to freeze while you come up with a gimmick for remembering his name.

I’ve tried keeping a “Name Journal.” When I met new people at some gathering, I’d come home and write down their names and a little bit about them. That lasted exactly one night. I already have a Book Journal, a Thankfulness Journal and a Tender Mercies Journal that I’m not keeping up with.

Not remembering someone’s name can cause a lot of trauma. It can make you hide in a grocery store so you won’t have to address someone you’re supposed to know well enough to have his name in mind. The worst situation is when you have someone with you and you are put in a position of having to introduce him to another individual that just seems to pop up out of nowhere. I have instructed my husband that he is to quickly say, “Hi I’m Brad,” so that the arriving person can introduce himself without me getting involved.

I personally feel that everyone should have come to this earth with his or her name embroidered on his or her forehead. Not that Heaven would know precisely what the parents wanted to call the child beforehand. But wouldn’t it be great if the parents could fill out a form and fax it to the Powers That Be and order a name just as if they were ordering a monogrammed hat from a catalogue? The name could lovingly be embroidered upon the child’s precious head. Hmmmm…..that might not work so well in the womb being as each being starts as a tiny speck. The name would have to begin as an even smaller speck and then start growing with the fetus. Arms do it and legs, and for that matter, foreheads do it—then why not a name across the forehead? No?

OK—I know, I know! Wait ‘til the child is born—yes this is a much better idea—and observe it for a day or two and see what name would be exactly right for this new little creature. Then take the new infant to a name embroidery place and…….Naaaaa. That might be a little painful and there is enough pain in the world as it is without inflicting more agony.

Maybe we could all just wear mandatory nametags wherever we go like the sales clerks do in Macy’s or Fry’s. They would have to be printed in very large letters, however, so that when you’re speaking to someone and want to use his name and should know it but don’t want him to know that you’ve forgotten it, you could glance ever so slightly at his name tag and read his name without him catching you. But there are already too many mandatory laws and too many things that already aren’t being enforced, so nametag policing is probably out of the question.

You’d think it would be OK to ask a person’s name and say that you’re so sorry you’ve forgotten it, but when it is someone that you grew up with, live next to, admire greatly, or have already asked the name of several times, it would put you down several notches on the social ladder to admit your carelessness.

Those who remember names have more friends and are more comfortable with the people around them. When you can say a person’s name with confidence, you are endeared to him. He is then more likely to make it a point of remembering and using your name and a bond is created.

Knowing the importance of something and being able to do it, however, are two very different things. So while I am trying to improve my ability to remember and use names, I think I will have to keep the great name remember-er “what’s his name”—oh yeah, Brad!—next to me at all times.

1 comment:

Tami Allred said...

Excellent post Liz. I used to pride myself on remembering names til one day I was speaking from the pulpit and I was thanking my good friend "Marcie" well her name is Darcy so did I feel stupid when I realized my error the next day. Too late to correct it.
I'm really bad at it now as hard as I try. I just flub up over and over again and hopefully people understand.
I love that pic of Brad. Made me miss you guys. Brought back memories of when he was Bishop. He was a great Bishop. Then we moved to Cottonwood and I remember at Jana's wedding he hugged me and said "This is why we do these" Remembered my name after all those years, so just chalk it up to the fact that he has the gift and we don't.