Thursday, October 1, 2009

forgettable

About five years ago I met a woman at the neighborhood park. She had a daughter between the ages of my two girls and was pregnant with another one. I asked her her name and found out that she taught Art where my husband teaches. A few months later I saw her at our street 4th of July party with her new baby. I oohed and aahed, asked the baby's name, etc. Later I found out that someone in our ward was her student and did some work at her house so the next time I saw her at a University gallery opening I chatted with her about that. I took Music Together classes with her two daughters, romping around the room with them, singing their names every week, meeting her mother, and chatting frequently. As our kids have started school I see her at school carnivals and family reading nights. I noticed while I was pregnant that she was, too and lo and behold about a week before I had my baby (already a week late), while I was spending a lot of time hitting the pavement, I ran into another neighbor who said that she had had her baby ~~ a boy, named Finn. What? I had never actually known someone named that and here we are with Phin being the only boy name we like and someone who lives a block away naming her baby that. I ran home and told Matthew that we had to scour the baby name books again. Now why would I be so upset? Well, I guess that sort of thing bothers me anyway, but it was especially irksome because this woman NEVER knows who I am! I know almost everything about her that a casual acquaintance could know about a person ~~ her kids names and ages, where she grew up, what kind of car she drives, where she lived before she moved here ~~ and all I ever get is a blank stare. I find this slightly intimidating and I just didn't want to seem like I was copying her, but then again I didn't think she needed to have so much influence on my life so obviously we went with the name we liked in the first place. Anyhow, I decided that I was going to stop humiliating myself and pretend that I didn't know her either. When the babies were about three months old we all sat at the same table eating dinner at a gallery opening. She didn't even bat an eye. A few weeks after that I saw her at the elementary school, then a few different times at Target ~~ I don't even run into my close friends that often! Well, finally I had had enough denying my true self ~~ I LIKE to say hello to people I know ~~ and I started talking to her again when I saw her. I would comment on how big her baby was and what a cutie. I saw her at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago and asked the girls by name what they were buying. And yesterday I saw her as we were dropping off clothes at the local children's consignment store. It is very popular so you have to go before it opens to get in. So there we were standing in line for about 15 minutes. I couldn't not say something, could I? First I said a cheery hello and asked her what she was knitting. Then I asked where her baby was (with a sitter). I moved on to whether she has tenure (she does) and what teachers her kids have at school. Finally I could tell that she had no idea who I am. Doesn't it bother her a little that an apparent stranger knows her kids names and everything about her? I guess not. I told her that I live on the next street over. "Oh, you do? Do you know so and so? They just moved in two weeks ago." You know someone who moved here two weeks ago and you can't remember someone with whom you have had 50,000 encounters? Who are these people? I am going to have to go over and get lessons on how to be more remarkable. Next I inserted that our kids go to same school, ride the same the bus, we took music classes together, and that my husband teaches at the same university. In her department. "Oh, he does? What is his name?" Finally she notices my baby and asks how old he is. She doesn't ask his name because she really isn't that interested. As we are leaving I tell her good luck with the sweater she's knitting and I can already see the familiar glaze forming over her eyes. Hello! It's me. We were talking outside two minutes ago?

It would be kind of funny if this was isolated, but there are actually other people in my neighborhood who require unlimited introductions. What I want to know is, why can't people remember meeting me? Is it because I stay home with my kids? Do I have too many kids? Do I weigh too much? Have the wrong color hair? Dress the wrong way? Is it my name? {Random tangent: The other day I was returning something to the store. "What is your last name?" "Smith." "First name?" "Mary." He makes some wisecrack and I suddenly thought, I hate my name. I have had it! Perhaps hating my name has made me hate myself and that is why I never accomplish anything. When I hear about someone named Mary Smith I think of someone boring, mousy, pale, and nondescript. Mary Smith is an anonymous nobody. Okay, back to my other rant.} So it is all kind of funny. I guess I could start playing around and tell her something different every time like she has Alzheimer's or amnesia.

(Take us out Nat!) That's why darling it's incredible how someone so completely forgettable...

10 comments:

Jenn said...

That is too much! I don't know if you're a Seinfeld fan or not, but it totally reminds me of that episode where Elaine relates her run-ins with a friendly acquaintance who eventually stops acknowledging her altogether. Anyway, funny.

I don't see how anyone couldn't remember you. It's definitely not you! The lady seems kind of crazy to me. I really loved the way you wrote about it, though. :)

The Queen Bee said...

Mary, you are probably the most unforgettable person I know. I remember meeting you for the first time at a play group when I was still in 1st Ward and you were late because you hit a huge sale at Tuesday Morning! I remember thinking, "I want to be her friend"! This lady may actually have Alzheimer's!

Rural Entrepreneur said...

That is interesting because we have the opposite problem. We are trying hard to forget you, but can't.

Ha-ha. You guys are some of the most incredible people we've ever met. I was going to suggest that you sing a song for her, because maybe music is the only way she can remember anything. But maybe it is better this way: why would you want such a person to remember you? Still it must be weird, like she is Drew Barrymore on 50 First Dates.

Rural Entrepreneur said...

Here is another theory: in the pre-existence, you are the one who convinced her to come to earth with the two-thirds, and subconsciously she remembers that and is angry at you for it because she wishes she had gone the other way. So her spirit blocks your persona, for fear you will convince her to enter the Celestial Kingdom. This theory is a combination of New Age Mormonism and Pop Psychology.

Melba said...

Don't feel bad- we all experience this from time to time. Or worse yet, someone clearly remembers you and just as clearly shows lack of interest in talking to you! That being said, that lady is psycho -obviously in her own world and you can't take it personally!

Ellen said...

Let's call a spade and spade, self-absorbed, narcissistic, snobbery, not reflecting on you at all. As for your name, Mary Smith, the bright side is its simplicity and the ease with which it is understood.

Stacey said...

That lady has problems!!

Jennifer said...

My personal opinion is Miss Mary you are one of the most admirable people I know. You've lived all over. You are an incredible mom who has many talents, many of which I envy. Some people are rude, and thoughtless, and self absorbed.
Obviously this one has no idea what she's missing. I know there are many days I truly miss you and your family. Enjoy those who enjoy you.
:) Jen

corn fed girl said...

Poor lady, she is missing out on your awesomeness! You are not forgettable. I mean COME ON! With an easy name like Mary Smith how CAN you forget?! & I like the name Mary...so shut yur mouth!

julie said...

I love you Mary! And I love your name. I really do.
I truly believe that this woman's issues reflect only upon herself, and not upon you at all. because, yes, it is strange that she doesn't wonder at all why you know her children by name.
When Brock was going to grad school we lived in a ward for a year and a half. Among other funny comments we would get like, "oh! you're still here? So many students come and go we don't really bother to get to know them!", there was a man in the ward who introduced himself to Brock every time they had an encounter, and thought that he was meeting Brock for the first time, every time. So funny and irritating at the same time!

By the way, thanks for last saturday! It was delightful! Looking forward to the next time!

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