Michele A'Court: Putting names to faces a tricky game

Michele A'Court may know she knows you, but won't always remember how.

Michele A'Court may know she knows you, but won't always remember how.

OPINION: Most of my daily working life is spent in the company of people I've never met.

That's not wildly unusual – it would be the same if I worked in a shop.

You put your game-face on and smile at a constant stream of new faces, with the odd familiar one thrown in.

Those are the tricky ones, to be honest. I've always been good at knowing I know a face, but crap at knowing why.

I spend a lot of time now saying – suppressing as much embarrassment as I can – "I've met you before somewhere, right?" Answers range from, "No, you crazy person" through "At a corporate dinner in 2002" to "Yes, you were married to my brother".

A couple of clues and I'm usually able to access the correct file in my brain to fill in the gaps. Though general busyness laced with stress make the pathways tricky to navigate. Names fail to ring bells, panic ensues.

Proper nouns are the worst – names and titles elude me.

My husband has a mind like a steel trap so I frequently use him as my personal IMDB, or Google, or a living breathing Siri.

"Saw a weird movie on the plane," I'll say, "with that woman who did the hit film with the guy who usually plays a gangster — great scene where she was cleaning her teeth. She used to be in that sitcom with Paul Whatsit, you know the one – 'Crazy Love' or something."

And like magic, he'll say, "Helen Hunt – and it was Mad About You with Paul Reiser, and the movie was As Good As It Gets and it was Jack Nicholson, not Robert de Niro. What's the new movie called?"

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"No idea," I'll say. "But look out for it – it's odd, but interesting." Which is also what I hope he thinks about me.

My friend Ali and I make a game of it. We have plans to pitch a TV chat show with the two of us discussing celebrities and movies where everyone is referred to as "Thing" or "What's His Name" and we'll say, "No, the other one" a lot.

There will also be cooking demonstrations with neither of us able to remember what nutmeg is called. 

We figure all the other pre- and post-menopausal baby boomers will identify with the vagueness and indecision, and possibly – as we do – know exactly what we're talking about regardless.

There could be prizes for texting in correct names. We think it would be very popular with people like us. Comforting and affirming, and accidentally hilarious. 

Though people like us will never remember when the show is on or what it's called so ultimately I guess ratings would suffer. Also, it is entirely possible there's a show already on just like it and we just haven't noticed.

The movie, by the way, is Ride. Helen Whatsit plays an uptight New York book editor who follows her son to California and learns how to surf.

She has a fling with that actor whose brother does all those comedies – blonde hair, big nose, suffers from depression. Shout his name at me next time you see me. And tell me who you are.

 - Stuff


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