Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name? by
(34 Stories)

Prompted By Senior Moments

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I have a bad habit of forgetting the names of people I have just met, usually within thirty seconds of meeting them.  It’s like I’m in such a hurry to get their “story” that I just don’t put their names into even my short-term memory

There's always the Google machine.

As I have gotten older, however, I notice that I have trouble occasionally remembering a name of someone whom I have known for years.  The same is true for words that I know very well.  An example of this is one of my favorite self-deprecatory jokes:

Q:  “How can you identify an extroverted engineer?”

A:  “He looks down at your shoes instead of his own.”

It is the word “extroverted” that continually escapes me.

I have found, though, that I can store my search for a name or a word in the back of my mind, and usually within an hour or two, without any warning whatsoever, the object of the search will pop into my head.  It surprises me when it happens, but I can almost always rely on its happening.

And if it doesn’t, there’s always the Google machine.

By the way, the New Yorker cartoon at the top was posted on our refrigerator door in Columbus for many years.  Is there any husband who has not done this?  Is there any wife who has not witnessed it?


Profile photo of Jeff Gerken Jeff Gerken

Characterizations: funny


  1. So true Jeff, and thanx for the clip!

  2. Marian says:

    I get it, Jeff! Love the engineer joke, which has circulated a lot here in the Silicon Valley. It’s funny how the names just pop back up sometimes. Last night I couldn’t sleep for a while and for some reason was thinking back to a concert I attended featuring ??? About an hour later, I finally remembered Melissa Etheridge and drifted off to sleep. Thanks for the Doors earworm.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    Fun story, Jeff. And I also have names and other words I seem to have an absolute block against remembering. I’m not sure if it is psychological, linguistical or neuroscientific.

    And I know and enjoy that engineer joke and can remember a few more of them. And, yes, I think I know every single lawyer joke that ever existed.

    Incidentally, I immediately remembered the song that is your title. It really lit my fire.

  4. Suzy says:

    Love the cartoon! It fits perfectly with Dana’s story about Male Corneas. And it took me a minute to get your engineer joke – although I realize the reason you included it was not for its joke value, but because you always forget the word “extroverted” when you want to tell it. Of course the song is perfect for this prompt! Probably not what Jim Morrison had in mind though.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great cartoon, Jeff. And engineer joke (it applies to computer scientists too, I suspect). Yes, we all have more word-search trouble these days. Trying to make note of that new name – committing it to short term memory – takes real effort. Having the word/name pop into your mind at a later moment happens to so many of us at this point in our lives. I relate!

    And definitely love the ear worm; classic Doors, even as Suzy points out, probably not what Jim Morrison had in mind.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Great cartoon, Jeff! I have to print that out for my husband. The same thing happens to me. I have to remind myself to relax and not try too hard to think of the name or word. It always floats back into my head eventually.

  7. Most of us have the same problem. I’m so busy studying the person’s persona, I rarely hear the name when introduced. If I really want to retain a name, I write it down and read it. Remembering students’ names is really important but some elude me, I shudder to think why, although I think I know the answer. Then there are people’s names that I forget because they do not belong in my mental archives. I just had to look up Pat Buchanan because I always forget his name. Even now.

  8. Greatest title for this prompt, Jeff…I will forever think of that song in a new light now!

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    The title song reminded me of the old joke about Frank Sinatra visiting a friend at the old folks’ home, being given the runaround by a receptionist, and then raging, “Do you know who I AM?”. “No sir, but I’m sure that nurse over there can help you.” Loved the joke and the cartoon and Doors clip too. And of course we are all part of the can’t-remember-names club, so this hit close to home.

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