What if you could remember the names, but not see the faces? Everyday I talk to people without knowing who they are. It’s my mini grab for a Golden Globe in life, acting as I try to launch into the right conversation and level of familiarity the person expects of me. The inevitable miscommunications are smoothed over with a raise of my white cane.

I fake it until I make the connection of whom I’m talking with by the sound of the voice, the context of what they carry, the typical greetings I hear from particular individuals. I would rely on outfits, but people insist on wearing different clothes each day, the nerve.

People familiar with my visual impairment might not realize it happens with them occasionally, too. Put me in distracting lighting or in a place I wouldn’t expect to meet that person and I engage in some moments of stranger talk before the pieces of identity fall in place.

If only I could yell, “Roll call!” when I encountered some people I’m supposed to know at any gathering. Socially awkward, but it would do the job of enlightening me about who was around me. I appreciate it when someone announces herself to me with a simple, “Hi Susan, it’s (insert name here).” It’s a verbal caller ID and it relieves me of the identity search.

I would even welcome a Spartan Cheerleader style of announcing oneself, the sheer effort at resurrecting a beloved comedy skit from the 90s would amuse me. Until roll calls come into fashion outside of academia and late night comedy sketches, I will continue to unravel the mystery of who is talking to me, one word at a time.

In the meantime, enjoy some classic Craig and Arianna, the Spartan Cheerleaders at the Chess Tournament.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Trisha says:

    Those moments of wondering who you’re talking to must be so disorienting. I kind of go through a different variation of that as I scramble to search my unreliable memory for the details of a person’s life, or sometimes just their name. It’s a panicky sort of feeling.

    1. It’s panicky then relief when I can figure it out. It’s too bad you don’t have an easy explainer like a white cane when people aren’t recognized.

  2. Modwyn says:

    A musician friend of mine once suggested that people invent their own leitmotif – a snippet of a song that they would sing by way of introduction.

    I laughed aloud as I read this post. I’ve experienced this many, many times!

    1. I welcome leitmotifs into my life, bring them on friends.

  3. My neighbours usually announce themselves at 10 yards! this seems to have happened spontaneously and is very nice. However, I tend to recognise their dogs first. hmmm!

    1. You have some considerate neighbors, Bridget. I’m guilty of recognizing dogs before owners all the time, too.

  4. Casee says:

    I wish we could use the old AOL thing of a/s/l meaning age, sex or gender and location meaning where are you from. Everyone could just use that and it would be a huge help. They could also throw in where we know each other from bus ride? church? We ride the elevator in the morning every weekday? Throw us a bone already! 🙂

    1. Clever! AOL chat lingo reimagined. If only away messages could be wielded when we can’t be disturbed as we walk around, too.

      1. Casee says:

        Now that is something I really need.

  5. Kristi Y. says:

    So funny! I get where you’re coming from since i have the same issue–it’d be so cool if we had a device that recognized people’s voices and announced their id to us!

    1. Yes, that would be fantastic.

      1. bethfinke says:

        I lead memoir-writing classes for seniors who sometimes have trouble remembering people’s names, this invention would work for them, too!

      2. Calling all AARP lobbyists. They would know how to throw money at this project initiative. Until then, we can dream.

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