I’ve noticed a difference in myself over the past – well, there I don’t know. It may be the past few months or it may even be two or three years or so, it seems to have crept up on me. I’ll tell you now and then waffle on as usual in explanation – I ask people their names and I used not to.
In my early years, I was somehow afraid to call people by their name, school friends in particular. I was the shyest, most awkward child and was very unsure of my ability to remember anything I hadn’t read in a printed book. Take this as me being as pathetic as you like and I shall not argue in the least. I was quite afraid I’d get the name wrong or the person would say “Oh, everyone else knew I didn’t call myself Beth any more, I’ve been Libby for weeks” and I’d be desperately embarrassed.
I got over this eventually of course, certainly in my teens, but I still had something of a social handicap, in that my poor memory for faces was matched by my difficulty with remembering names. In fact, I hardly tried as it was so hard. I started to get over that when we moved here. I met so many new people that I had to make much more effort. Now, if anything, I’ve got a reputation for being really very good at it and friends ask me quietly to identify others – if only I’d known, as a child, how many people hid their poor recollection then, I’d have been less embarrassed about my own difficulty.
Yesterday, I had the hedge by the road trimmed – rather late and I’m afraid the blossom will suffer this spring, but it had to be done. And the very nice man who did it is the brother of Wince’s girlfriend, and Wince had arranged for it to take place. So I trotted down the drive to introduce myself and, while we were chatting, I simply asked his name. And today, I went to the dentist and had a hygienist appointment first and, at the end, she asked if I had any questions for her. And I hadn’t, but “oh, but what is your name?”
They are, respectively, John and Allison. And I’m sure I’ll know their faces next time too. In the past, if I were, let’s say, looking for a friend I’d mislaid at the market, it would be impossible to ask anyone. I haven’t got the vocabulary to describe people. Apart from their hair colour and their height if it were unusually extreme one way or the other, I can’t do it. And if asked what they were wearing, I wouldn’t have a clue. Mind you, if I had my eyes closed, odds would be that I wouldn’t be sure what I’m wearing myself, often as not. But at least I know them when i see them.
Bump of direction is another thing, mind you. I can drive somewhere ten times and manage to get lost on the eleventh. And the first ten too, if I haven’t got the satnav on.
But why I’m suddenly comfortable about asking someone their name … I probably need to give that a bit more thought. I’ve got a few ideas but trying to work my way into my own mind isn’t particularly easy, to be frank.
There’s one thing, though. Every single person who’s ever come to one of my blog parties, I’ve always been able to greet by name, whether I’d met them before or not.