I had two fairly extended conversations with people tonight whose names I could not remember. One of these people I not only had no idea what her name was, but I had no real recollection that we had reached the point in our relationship where I should be expected to remember her name. I had though we were still in that "oh, hi, uh... I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name - oh, Jessica, that's right, I remember now, thank you" stage, which is a stage I usually remain in until the point when I'm called upon to give the best man toast, like I did for that guy that I grew up with. But in this case, I was sure we were still firmly in the "acquaintance" stage, but instead our conversation was littered with "ever since I've known you, you've had so much car trouble," and "I haven't talked to you since that 'People's Court' video." I was panicked that I would be required at some point to come up with some relevant details about her life, or how I knew her, or reference her name. It's a terrible feeling; this deep dread sitting in my stomach, leaving me constantly terrified throughout the conversation.
But then it got even worse. On my way out the door, I ran into someone I swear I have never seen in my entire life. I had no idea who this guy was. And he gave me a hug. I couldn't even bring up something general to try to get closer to where I knew this guy from - y'know, "so, were you at church this Sunday?" I didn't even have "gee, I haven't seen you since we went out together in that group that one time a while back." I had no frame of reference, nothing. It was so bad I actually thought maybe I was being pranked in some way, and the guy was about to say "I'm just kidding, Joe put me up to it, I've never seen you in my life! You shoulda seen your face! Priceless!" I made about as fast a retreat as I've ever made to my car, terrified that he might say something like "hey, I've still got those DVDs I borrowed, swing by the house and pick 'em up on your way home," and I would have to break down and admit, weeping, I had no idea who he was.
In a perfect world, my life would be more like The Devil Wears Prada, where two assistants would follow me constantly, available to whisper the names of each acquaintance to me as I came across them. Naturally, my wardrobe would be substantially improved. And ideally, those assistants would still be Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt.