Scene: Two people preparing to introduce themselves to one another.
“Hi, I’m Michele. Nice to meet you.” (Extend hand for a shake.) Other person: “Hi, Michele. I’m (insert any name here, it won’t matter what it is in a minute.) Nice to meet you, too!”
And then, like always, panic rises in my chest like a springy sourdough. I have already forgotten the person’s name before we even unclasp hands.
I’ve tried everything to get my brain to absorb this important social info. Repeating the name within the first few seconds. Thinking of a code word. Or, like in the Seinfeld episode where Jerry doesn’t know the name of the woman he is dating, I’ve tried to hint around to get the person in question to say it for me.
For work I just ask again. But in other situations it isn’t as easy.
Like recently, when I was having physical therapy on my knee. My therapist was fantastic and I knew she could help me. And would.
She never really introduced herself. Her boss may have said, “Come in Thursday and see (blank,)” but if he did, I missed it. And I never asked.
Which was OK the first time I was there. Not a really big deal the second time. I was pretty much focused on the pain. I’d come through the door and brightly call, “Hi there!” And that would cover it. As would, “Thank you so much!!” at the end.
But then the third session and the fourth rolled by and then the fifth and I found myself completely stressed. What the hell is her name?
She said my name at every opportunity. MICHELE, get on the bike for 10 minutes. MICHELE, time to stretch the hamstring.
Michele. Michele. Michele. Michele. I’d never heard my name so much. And it was driving me crazy. WHO ARE YOU?
I went through a mental list and tried to match a name to her face. Jennifer. No. Alex. No. Cynthia. NO! Damn it! I thought about it at night. Marie. No. Eileen. No. Luanne. No. Caroline? NO. Donna? Nope.
I searched their website. Nothing. Finally I decided to confess. What an idiot I am, I thought.
I walked slower than usual to the door for my next session, trying to delay the humiliation. I opened the door and held it for the nice little old lady who was always before me.
“Bye bye, Nicole,” she shouted. “See you next week!”
Eureka!! I was all smiles as I shrugged off my coat and turned toward the machines.
“Hey, Nicole! How are you?”