I forget people. People I've known forever. Just last week I ran into three old friends who I know as well as I do the back of my hand and yet I could not remember their names. I ended up addressing them using the familiar Good Buddy, Fella and Old Pal, but I don't think they were fooled for a minute. I guarantee you, unless your name is Guy or Pal or you are wearing a “Hello, My Name is...” tag I will not get your name right.
A couple years ago I signed a book contract with Harper Collins and I had it specifically state in the contract that I would NOT do book signings. I made this fatal mistake one time and people I knew kept coming up to me with a book for me to personalize for them by signing their name and mine. I couldn't remember a single name! My sister and mother seemed to be especially offended.
This failure to remember names is embarrassing and is one of the traits I like least about myself. But it's really not my fault. I recently learned that there is a “disease” called Prosopaganosia in which the victims are unable to put a name to a face. I know I suffer from this dreaded malady because I can remember the third verse of our national anthem but I can't remember the Good Buddy who wrote it. I really should get a Medic Alert bracelet notifying people that I am a Prosopaganosiac.
I have been a sufferer of Prosopaganosia all my life. Way back in high school my ag teacher suggested that when I met someone I should associate their name with something. I tried this trick when I met a Mrs. Davenport, whom I pictured sitting on a sofa, and the next time I saw her I called her Mrs. Couch. When I met the Dean of Ag at Fresno State I associated his name, Burger, with the sandwich of the same name. Sure enough, I introduced him to a crowd of 600 people as Dean Hamburger.
Now, here's the weird part. I NEVER forget an animal or its name. To this day if you told me an eartag number of a cow I owned 25 years ago I could tell you what she looked like and her nickname. If we walked into a remuda of horses and you told me their names I'd remember them a week later. I can remember the name of every horse that ever bucked me off and every dog I've owned. Even dogs that belong to other people. In fact, that's how I often refer to people: Rex's mom, Rover's owner, etc.
I've always been able to remember animals. When I got started buying cows I made the mistake of not buying them at the auction market and I bought a load out in the country. I did business with an old coot I shall refer to as Mr. So and So, because his name escapes me. Mr. So and So was as friendly as a coiled rattlesnake with all the charm of a dead cat but I was naive and thought I could trust anyone in the business. Mr. So and So lived a long way from my place so after looking at some pairs he had for sale we agreed on a price and I asked him if he'd put them on a truck and send them my direction the next week so I didn't have to make a return trip to his place.
When the first cow unloaded I knew I'd been abused worse than a rental car. I remembered every cow I bought and she definitely wasn't one of them. Many of the cows had been switched out and replaced with much poorer ones. I specifically remembered a #152 cow with a big strapping calf and she was not on the truck. Also, Mr. So and So had promised that the cows were bred back but 75 percent of them were open.
Years later a friend and I walked into a cafe and my buddy looked over by the cash register and said, “Hey look, it's your favorite cow trading buddy, Mr. So and So.”
I was still mad and proceeded to walk right over to him and spewed fifty cc's of pure venom at him. I called him every name in the book for everyone in the joint to hear. Just as I was winding up I got a nagging feeling that I'd never met the object of my derision before. Sure enough, I'd just cussed out an innocent bystander just waiting for a to-go sandwich. It turns out Mr. So and So was actually the next person in line.