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    I recently challenged myself to a name game on my computer, “Can you name these dictators?” I got them all right, except for some sleazy guy from an African Nation that I had never heard of, because he destroyed it.

    So, if I can remember the names of all those dictators—past and present—why can’t I remember the name of the person standing in front of me? A name tag always saves the moment, unless the print is so small that my nose hits the chest of the stranger, whose name I hope to remember.

    Memory experts offer many tricks for connecting a face and a name.

    The first trick is to “repeat the person’s name when you are first introduced,” such as, “So pleased to meet you “Mr. Clemp.” Whereupon, he will say, “It’s Clems, not Clemp.” But now he is permanently frozen in you mind as a “Mr. Clemp.”

    Then there’s the trick of “association.” For instance, you are introduced to “John” as he exits the Mens Room. Reluctantly, shaking his hand, he is always associated with his exit and a damp hand. However, happily, you will always remember his name.

    Last week, I was in a store when a woman enthusiastically greeted me by name. Actually, she screamed my name across the store. My first thought was, “Do I owe this stranger money?”
    Then, she ran across the store and engulfed me in a bone crushing hug. I finally stumbled back,  looked at her and drew a complete blank. She said, “You don’t know who I am, Do you?” “I am so sorry,” I replied. “Please refresh my memory.” “I was your neighbor, 25 years ago.”  Then she told me her name. And, then I remembered her, and her seventeen  household pets. How could I forget? EASY!  She had lost 50 pounds and her hair was a different color. The last time I had seen her, she was climbing a tree in my backyard chasing one of her exotic birds, who had escaped from its cage. The reason I forgot is that our brief meeting in the store was much more pleasant than our brief neighborhood experience.

    If it’s of any comfort, according to an article in PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, “Nearly 85% of middle-aged and older adults forget names.” So what’s the excuse for 25-year-olds? It is awkward to forget a name, but understandable with all of the distractions happening around us during a conversation.

    So, what is really helpful? First of all, it helps when you are genuinely interested in meeting the person standing in front of you. If the friend you do know does not introduce you, it is permissible to introduce yourself, since your friend is probably suffering from momentary brain freeze.

    When introducing yourself, you can make an impression, but spilling a drink on the person you want to impress might not be the impression you want to make.  However, if it’s any consolation, he will probably remember you name forever. Never mind!  When meeting someone, be motivated, focus, be sincere (even if you have to fake it) and make sure you hear the name right..”It’s not Clemp…It’s Clems.”

    My friend, the Southern novelist, Terry Kay, (TO DANCE WITH THE WHITE DOG) was an excellent writer, but had a lousy memory for names, so he’d get away with, “Hey, Darlin’” That worked with women, but I’m not sure what he said to men. On the other hand, when I was signing my book, OH, LORD, I SOUND JUST LIKE MAMA, I asked the woman in line, “To whom would you like this book signed?” And, she replied, “Just sign your name. It’s worth more that way when you are dead!”

    Esther Blumenfeld (“A  rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”)  William Shakespeare

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