Yesterday, my friend texted me with a message that poked at a growing, yet undesired new feature about my personality/being.
While having drinks with her friend, the friend mentioned something to the effect of “I see Brett in the halls at work all the time, and he just passes me by like he doesn’t know who I am.”
Now, the old me would find this impossible. After all, I knew the girl in question. Granted, I only met her twice, but one instance was during a 6-hour barbecue. I remember our conversation clearly; we discussed work and music. The old me would roll my eyes, chalk it up to an extreme exaggeration, figuring that she may have passed me once, but my mind was elsewhere and not paying attention, but after reading this text, all I could do was sigh and write back “yeah, that’s entirely possible.”
Now, let me be clear. I have nothing against said girl. She’s perfectly lovely. If I am ignoring her in the halls, it’s not some attempt at being cool or some premeditated lack of gesture to suggest she’s not worth my time. The problem is, I just have no fucking clue who she is. Yes, that’s right. I’ve met her twice, spent considerable amount of time with her at the BBQ, yet I have no clue who she is. Why? Because I’m getting old.
Yeah, yeah, I can feel your eye rolls from here. You’re only 32, you say. That’s not old! Well, I can wax poetically on my waning metabolism, creaky knees, and general growing cynicism, but the lack of facial recognition is becoming a horrible problem. One that never used to be one. I always used to have a great memory, short term and long. Friends would call me up to remind them of past events and would take my word for it because I was the one with the good memory. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. Never have really. Yet now when I meet someone, I probably have to ask your name twice, because the first time I’m concentrating on the handshake and am too stupid to do two things at once, even if it's something as simple as shaking and remembering a name. I know dogs that can do that, after all. But I can’t. But faces are easier to remember than names, right? All faces are unique! How hard can it be? Well …
I’m getting old.
Numerous times at the gym, people have waved at me, the suggestion that we know eachother and have talked. Chances are I don’t recognize them, so I just smile back, nod, and hope they don’t notice. Not long ago, while at work, a photographer came into the office to shoot, and upon noticing me, said “hey man! Whats up!” as if we were old friends. My blank stare was all he needed to realize that I had no clue who he was. When he reminded me that he lived in my building, I said “oooh, oh yeah, sorry, I’m horrible with faces.” He said, “yeah, that’s what you said the last time.” Ugh. (Thankfully, I’ve recognized him every time since).
See? I’m getting old.
Oh, and if you have sunglasses on and I’m not normally used to seeing you in them, forget it, it might take me all day to realize who you are (this happened yesterday when I ran into an acquaintance in Santa Monica). It’s really embarrassing when they instantly recognize me, express genuine happiness to see me, and yet I have no clue who they are until I’m told. I’ve tried rationalizing this by telling myself that I’m probably more recognizable (or memorable) looking simply because of my tattooed left arm, but I think that’s probably a load of bullshit and other people just have much better short-term memory than me.
See? I’m getting old.
Sure, there are some people who I will recognize instantly (you know, like normal people do), but for the people I don’t, it’s not even because I’ve dismissed you or deemed you unmemorable. As eluded to above, we could have long conversations, but I may not remember your face at all during our next encounter, even if I can then recall every single detail of our conversation once I’m reminded of your identity. I’m not sure how to remedy the problem; maybe I should focus on a certain facial feature so I can instantly recognize it next time? Maybe one of those wonder herbs that improve memory? Or maybe I just need to suck less?
Or maybe I’m just getting old.