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The Names Escape Me

Kathy Werner
Posted 1/7/22

Well, the tree is down, the ornaments re-boxed, and the stockings are folded away. I’ll leave the lights outside on for a while longer, though, because I think it makes the house look cheery on …

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The Names Escape Me

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Well, the tree is down, the ornaments re-boxed, and the stockings are folded away. I’ll leave the lights outside on for a while longer, though, because I think it makes the house look cheery on these dark winter nights.

I went to the store yesterday and was only a bit surprised to see that the Valentine cards and decorations have appeared. Time rushes on.

While I was wandering semi-purposefully around the store I ran into several former colleagues. It is in those moments that I am so very grateful that we are all back in our masks again because it saves me the embarrassment of not knowing who said hello to me. Now, it’s usually, “Are you Kathy? It’s me—Sharon!” Of course it is! Thank God for those masks!

It was bad enough for us teachers even before masks became de rigeur. Do you know how difficult it is for an elementary teacher to have a kid come up to them twenty years later and say, “Hello, Mrs. Werner! It’s great to see you again,” while you try to remember what six-year-old child might have turned into the wonderful adult you see before you? I usually go with “Hi there, sweetheart! You look great! How are things going? What’s new?”

Then, if I am lucky, the former student might give me some details that help me solve the mystery of the forgotten student. Of course, if the student was very badly behaved, those memories tend to linger on. But it is usually a perfectly lovely former child who remembers me, so I must be a bit cagey if I want to call them by their actual name.

I’ve never been good with names, especially in certain situations. When my dear late husband John and I used to go out to dinners, we would often be introduced to many people in an evening and I had the wonderful talent of instantly forgetting all their names, while John would remember everyone he had met. He had a trick for making a connection when hearing a name that helped him with his memorization. I didn’t have that talent.

As a teacher, of course, I had to learn lots of students’ names, and as a middle school English teacher, I had to learn nearly 100+ names per year, the sooner the better. I was quite good at it, actually. There were stumbling blocks, however. If I had a brother of a former student, that poor kid was doomed to be called by his brother’s name quite regularly; although once I had met the younger brother before the older, so the older brother had the unique experience of being called by his kid brother’s name. What can I say?

As the old song goes, “Let me call you sweetheart, I can’t remember your name…”

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  • lhfc1563

    YOU thank GOD for these stupid masks that 97% don't wear them correctly?

    YOU don't know at your age when one season leaves the next one that they commercialize on goes up?

    YOU can't remember names but you can remember to write a column of crap all too often.

    YOU couldn't forget a presidents and to bash him constantly but leave the dope we have now alone.

    Time to close up shop Kathy, once and for all of us.

    Friday, January 28 Report this