Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Names And Games

Being so hopeless at remembering people’s names, I tend to try to make a bit of an effort. Even so, there’s no rule; some names and faces lodge in my brain immediately and with ease, others vanish instantly and simply refuse to stick around.

At the club on Saturday night a guy saw The Dreaded One and me and broke into a big smile and said Hello like he was really pleased to see us. I hesitated and did the same, feeling another of those bluffing conversations where you don’t say anything too specific, let them do most of the talking while you stall and hope the details of who the hell they are and how the hell you know them come to you.

“How... um... are you?” I asked. There was simply no hint of his identity or relationship, no mutual friend standing by to jog the memory.

“Yeah good. Really good. Hey - it's really funny - for a second there it looked like you didn't know who I was."

I just didn’t feel mentally sharp enough to play the game tonight. "Um. Actually, that's really perceptive of you. You’re spot on. Who are you?"

He could tell immediately that I was not joking, and he looked totally crushed. I realised that maybe I should have been a little more diplomatic than that. But there you go. Blurt. It was out there. I looked closely but even the crest-fallen expression he was now wearing gave nothing away.

"The name's Michael,” he said wearily, like he couldn’t believe he was having to tell me his name yet again. “Greg and Laura’s friend."

Right. So we definitely knew each other, but I still couldn’t remember anything about him. If I told him that, however, it looked like the prospect of tears might be a very real one.

"Oh yeah,” I lied through my teeth in the name of diplomacy. “Michael. Of course. Sorry dude."

Michael couldn’t even bring himself to look at me now. He looked around at the sea of faces and up into the air as though watching a bird weave about. “Yeah. Well. We've met about, like, 15 times now."

And suddenly I remembered. There was another conversation we'd had maybe 18 months earlier that was almost a carbon copy of this one. On that occasion he had also been hurt that he remembered my name but I drew a blank on his. On that occasion I had reassured him that generally took about four or five meetings before the names of clubbers stayed with me. He had whinged to our friends for weeks about that, and I felt pretty sure they were not going to hear the end of this. At least this was finally one way to make himself memorable, because no fucking way have we had 15 conversations.

A short time later I ran into someone who has always been on the scene, but is someone I don’t particularly like. She needs to be the centre of attention, needs to be popular, fully believes that she is. She also thinks she is awesomely intelligent. She is also mean and if you don’t treat her like the princess she thinks she is, she will make what she thinks are clever and vicious insults that are meant to go over your head but which fall lump-like at your feet. I find her quite dreary.

Nevertheless, I play the game. I act civil and endure her presence for as long as I have to and leave her to it.

We came face to face. We both smiled our plastic smiles and said hello.

“How are you?” I asked.

"I'm great," she replied.

"No you're not," I heard myself saying.

"Yes I am," she insisted, all playful smiles.

"No you're not," I smiled back. "In fact you really should get of that fucking high horse."

It all happened so quickly that it took me a minute to realise I had said it. We both stood there laughing about it like we were chums and this was our little joke, but I think she knew as well as I did that I meant it. Oh yes.

1 comment:

ItsTJoint said...

Nice, "high horse" comment. I like it.