Unforgettable, that’s what Z … isn’t

I met a woman a couple of months ago – she was charming and friendly but quite the biggest fact-dropper I’ve ever met. In a few minutes, and quite irrelevantly to our conversation, she had let me know the origin of her surname (far posher and more ancient than it sounded), that she was not only a Doctor but a retired hospital consultant and that she found it ‘psychologically interesting’ when people she knew came across her serving coffee (in her capacity as a volunteer) as they were so startled to see her out of her social milieu and working in a servile capacity.

I met her again a few days ago and this time she showed me her late husband’s medals (she just happened to have them on her) and told me that he had spoken six languages, dropped into the conversation that her car had a 3.2 litre engine and referred to another friend as Dr *John Smith* … PHD she added.

The harder she tried, the more I became fond of her, in fact, because she seemed really quite needy, though she would be horrified to know that. The first time, I’d been amused – and marked down that she may have been a consultant, but she was not a surgeon or she would have dropped the title “Dr” – surgeons are rather too grand to need such a handle to their name. This time, I wondered why. She is attractive, well-spoken, obviously a ‘lady’ but maybe, now that she doesn’t live in London and doesn’t have the status of her job, feels she has something to prove?

Friendly and charming as she was, she showed no sign of recognising me, however. Now, whoever would forget me?

16 comments on “Unforgettable, that’s what Z … isn’t

  1. Gordie

    Someone completely self-absorbed would forget you (or me) very rapidly. I have a similar problem when I meet people like her.

    Perhaps the only appropriate way to respond is with trivia about oneself.

    “I had an aunt that happened to” is a useful opener, you can go almost anywhere with it.

    Or to focus on the most trivial aspect of her diatribe. “Your friends don’t approve of you serving coffee? What a pity…”

  2. Dave

    Should I ever happen to bump into you again (quite possible, I should think, as we will be living less than fifty miles apart) and don’t recognise you (highly unlikely, I know, but just in case) please put it down to eccentric absent-mindedness.

  3. Steg

    I can’t imagine any circumstances in which I would forget you. 🙂

    You’re obviously far more tolerant than I – I think that this woman would very rapidly get on my nerves.

  4. Z

    You might think she was trying to put me down, but I think it was an attempt at self-reassurance. I like the suggestions though – as long as she wouldn’t ask me about these anuses; she didn’t mention her field of medical specialisation.

    Dave, I’m terribly polite and never assume people remember me; I’d tactfully drop clues into the conversation within the first few seconds to help you put me in context. I’d have done that with her, but I couldn’t get a word in.

  5. Z

    Steg, no wonder I like you so much.

    I don’t know if she’d relax after a while – it was quite sweet in small doses.

  6. Keith

    I think that people like her feel so insignificant that the try to impress people with their achievements (?) in order to gain respect.

    She is obviously a lonely person, and by name dropping and self-praise she thinks that you would treat her with awe, or something.

    As I was only saying to Julie Roberts yesterday, I hate name-droppers, they irritate the shit out of me!

  7. The Boy

    Most female consultants I know keep ‘Dr.’ as what else would they use? “Mrs.” doesn’t quite work the same way, especially if you’re unmarried.

    No, I think you’re right that she’s a bit needy, wants reassurance that she’s grand.

  8. Z

    Welcome, Keith, it’s upped the prestige of this blog no end, now that you’ve arrived.

    It seems a bit sad really, I wonder if she feels at a disadvantage having lost her husband, moved from London and retired.

    Surgeons don’t keep Dr, do they, Boy? It’s not correct – they shouldn’t need to prove themselves. It’s the whole British understatement thing.

  9. martina

    She sounds like she misses the respect and co-workers she had at her job. She’s trying to feel needed by volunteering and needs friends. Gosh Z, if I met you once in person, I’d never forget you!

  10. Z

    When I referred to her at a meeting the other day, faces were pulled. I wasn’t talking about her, BTW, but referring to something she’d asked me about.

  11. Z

    When I referred to her at a meeting the other day, faces were pulled. I wasn’t talking about her, BTW, but referring to something she’d asked me about.


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