What you Should Never Ever do When you Forget Someone’s Name


At a very lovely party I went to last weekend, which ironically happened to be a baby naming, don’t worry, you’ll get the irony later, I had one of my more humiliating moments.  Let’s say I’ve had more my share of humiliating moments (See Humiliation on the Roller Rink, a Freudian Slip to make Freud Blush and the time I was an amateur stalker).  I was talking to some ladies I’d been introduced to moments prior and because people’s names tend to leave my head as quickly as they enter, I found myself fumbling for their given monikers.

I have a few tricks when I forget names.  My go-to tactic is to quickly get distracted into conversation, ask a question of a peripheral person or run off to one of my children to wipe off a stain, a booger, a smirk… This allows the two people I’m with to take the reigns and awkwardly introduce themselves.  I try to stay close enough to eavesdrop and once I hear the name I’d forgotten I turn back and say something like “I’m sorry, Laura this is Sheryl” or “Sorry about that, have you two met?”  Maybe it’s totally transparent, but you can’t prove I didn’t need to know where the person directly behind me got her shoes, can you?

My other strategy is to stand there like an idiot until the two people I’m standing with introduce themselves and then I get to dorkily say something like, “I’m sorry, that was rude of me not to introduce you.” or  “I thought you two knew each other.”  The “I thought you knew each other” can only be used in few situations.  You can’t expect your parents to know your yoga instructor, or your hubby to know your child’s pediatrician.  (Was that below the belt? Well, I’m an equal opportunity offender.)

So, I was introducing my daughter, who’s name I do remember, to these women and I introduced one of the gals as Claire.  She gave me the look I’ve seen too many times, which said, “My name is not even close to that, I mean we’re not even talking same first letter.”

“You’re name’s not Claire is it?” I surmised.

“No, it’s Ann.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I don’t know where I got Claire.” (uncomfortable pause)  “Claire’s a horrible name. I mean you certainly don’t look like a Claire, you’re much prettier.”

“Thank you,” she said as if she wholeheartedly agreed, while the ladies laughed at my quick recovery.

The truth is, I really have no negative feelings towards Claire’s.  The name is cute and Frenchie.  Plus, I loved My So Called Life and her cow hugger, I enjoy that I can get 157 items for $9.99 at Claire’s namesake fashion accessories stores.  I’ll even hunker down with an eclair every now and again.  I can only blame this superflous, mean-spirited name bashing on the immortal words of one dissident teenager, John Bender who said: “Claire’s a fat girls name… You’re not fat at present…  One day you’re gonna get married, you’re gonna squeeze out a few puppies and then, uh uhh uhh…”

When you’re doing off the cuff, face saving comedy or “gorilla comedy,” as I like to call it, you don’t have a ton of time to plan your set.  You just make a quick association and go with it.

I went on to sully the good name that is “Claire” for quite some time. Saying something like:

“Ryan, Ann’s a great name for a girl but Claire sucks.”

“Claire’s a slutty girl who will definitely be knocked up in high school and won’t even get a reality show. ”

“Claire could not be a more awful name.  When I hear it I want to scratch my eyes out.”

Look, I don’t remember the exact Claire slurs, but they were extreme.  As the ladies laughed and we jovially got past my gaffe, I turned to the baby of honor’s godmother, who I had not yet introduced to my daughter.

Knowing her name was Diane or Dana or something with a D, I said, “I hope your name’s not Claire. Snort snort hee hee.”

Nope, but my daughter’s is.

Well, now I guess we know where I got it from.

The baby was not the only one doing this!!!

The laughing quickly stopped.

The look on her face was not quite that of someone whose name I forgot, it was someone whose favorite name in the whole world, the one she chose to name her only daughter, I just raked through the mud.

“I’m so sorry, I was just trying to make light of the situation. (Pause to get no reaction whatsoever) I actually like the name Claire.”

Good save Jenny, the term “actually” made you sound as if it would be odd to like the name Claire, like saying, “Most people probably don’t, but I ACTUALLY do.”

“Well, I do,” she said with a well deserved sneer.

“I should shut up now.”  I followed.  And I actually did, which is rare.  She then walked away.

The mother of the baby of honor, thank goodness I had the good sense to confirm his name before my arrival, caught the tail end of our conversation.

“What just happened?” She inquired.

“Well, I don’t think your best friend and I just bonded,” I said, and went on to tell her the tale…  leaving out the part about the Jud Nelson association bit.

She said, “Don’t worry, I’m sure she didn’t take it personally.  I’ll tell her you’re funny and that you write a blog.”

Wow, if only that really held some weight.

Jenny did what?  Jenny stood you up for lunch?

Don’t take it personally, she writes a blog.

Jenny called your mother fat and kicked her in the shin?

Oh, that Jenny, you know she writes a blog.

Jenny robbed a convenience store?

Those bloggers.  Yep, she writes a blog and she’s funny, officer.

Well, assuming that her explanation of why I can get away with being offensive and rude didn’t work,  I have one less fan in the universe.  Luckily, I write a blog, so people get to subscribe and unsubscribe to me daily.

By the Way: No Claire’s were harmed in the making of this post, which is more than I can say for Claire’s mother. Sorry.

25 thoughts on “What you Should Never Ever do When you Forget Someone’s Name

  1. Cherie

    This was hysterical. I knew what was coming, well actually I tought the baby was being named Claire…close enough. Hope she reads your blog to see how funny you were and truly not offensive.

    Reply
  2. Forgetful

    I did not hear a mention of the use of the spouse when you have forgotten a name. We have it down to a science. When we walk in the room he will give me a discrete nudge or pinch, (I will give him a not so discrete nudge or pinch if he annoyed me while getting ready for said event) and that is our cue. He will say, “Hi How are you? Have you met my wife?”…My cue…”Hi, I’m Jennifer” If they don’t say their name right away, it is OK for me to then say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name”
    Works everytime.

    Reply
    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Jennifer I like the spouse card. I just find that whenever I try to do something sneaky with spouse, talk in code, pinch him under the table, try to get a simple direct sentence across, it always gets misconstrued, misunderstood, misdirected. Maybe I need a more alert spouse. Wait, is that what you’re saying? Do you not approve of my hubby? How dare you? I see you’re a new commenter here, Welcome.

      Reply
  3. Wendy

    You made me spew my coffee lol! Well, my tactic is usually to go with rhymes in my head which leads to awkward moments like the Seinfeld episode where he called his date “Mulva” because he knew it rhymed with a female part of the anatomy. Then again, some names just BEG to be made fun of. I went to school with a guy whose last name was “Ballhairy”. I kid you not.

    Reply
    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      The people at Ellis Island must a been drunk or really bored that day. Your tactic can only lead to trouble, I’m going to take it one further, every time I meet someone new I will draw a sketch of them as they pose for me. I mean, nothing too detailed. Like a caricature, I’ll exaggerate one part of the body that stands out big eyes, a large ball sack, you know whatever, and then I will write their name across it. What do you think? Then I’ll never forget a name and therefore never offend anyone again.

      Reply
  4. Tressa

    Wow, sounds like she had a stick up her you-know-what. Everyone if it wasn’t just joking, everyone has names they loath. I hate the name Kylie. He tortured me for my entire childhood. My sister-in-law is still pissed 6 years later that I said that I would never love a nephew named Kylie (she named him something else instead).

    I’m horrible at names and faces. When I meet people I just put it right out there. “Hi, I’m Tressa. I don’t expect you to pronounce it right or remember it because I will forget your name 10 seconds after you tell me and by the end of the night I may not recognize your face. I’m sorry, I’m simply socially handicapped.” 99% of the time people are cool with this (especially as most people will call me Theresa or Tess within 2 minutes of me telling them it’s Tressa – like tresspassing).

    The other 1% are uptight pissants who aren’t worth my time or energy and when they slaughter my name after being rude about my incompetence I make them pay because I am small and petty like that.

    Reply
  5. Lola

    First of all I am horribly offended because I love the name Claire. Okay, just part of that is true. I’ll let you guess which part.
    I am TERRIBLE at names. TERRIBLE. But knowing this about myself I am quite proactive.
    I introduce myself to new people immediately followed by, “I will NEVER remember your names in a million years because I have no memory short term memory skills as a result of the accident…”
    I always say
    “the accident” in my most ominous voice and let it trail off as I start to look quizzically around the room like I’ve already forgotten where I am.
    This works EVERY time.
    You’re welcome.

    Reply
    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      I’m sorry that you were sooo offended even though you don’t really like the name Claire. But, I get you, standing up for the little peeps or peeps with Frenchie names or whatever you’re confusingly getting behind. I have to admit, since the accident you just haven’t been the same. Oh well.

      Reply
  6. Bari

    Luckily, you didn’t call your husband by the wrong name,
    which some of us have been known to do.
    I like to err on the side of politeness so I won’t say who.

    Reply
  7. Jenn

    It must be in the name! No Pun Intended… I do this ALL the time, often to people I see on a daily basis. Its like names pop up on the tip of my tongue and decide last minute they have Agoraphobia, and hop right back down my throat before I can spit them out!
    It makes for some good stories though… thanks for the morning laugh!

    Reply
    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      No problem Jenn, I do that too. Like with really good friends. You and I should definitely never be on a timed game show. Though, I would like to go up against you if I were to be on one. Keep me posted on that.

      Reply
  8. Leigh

    Radical. I like the idea of getting “pulled away” by the kids, only to eavesdrop to get the forgotten name. I’m going to put this to use, I normally stand there like a dolt-

    Reply
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