Southern Tier Comedy Shop
Getting old and playing the name game
By Jim Pfiffer
IllustratED by Filomena Jack
As an aging Boomer, I accept the fact that my memory is eroding.
How do I know this? you ask.
Cuz, I can’t remember names, appointments, where I parked my truck and why I just walked upstairs to my bedroom, although I think it was to get something important, but I’m not sure because this happens to me a lot and it’s becoming more and more . . . ummm . . . more and more . . . what was the question again?
I’ve tried all the standard memory tricks. I write notes to myself, but I forget where I left them. When I find them, I can’t decipher the child-like scribblings or have no idea what my abbreviated words mean.
Recalling names and faces is the worst.
I try using different mnemonic devices to recall a person’s name, but they don’t help because I’m not sure how you pronounce “mnemonics.”
I’ve tried using the old song, “The Name Game,” by Shirley Ellis, where you say a person’s name followed by “Bo-ber-ley, bo-na-na fanna fo-fer-ley, fee-fi-mo-mer-ley.”
If I use the fee-fi-fo-fum trick, I end up calling the person a “bloody Englishman.” That’s a bad way to make a first impression.
I can be introduced to a fellow, told his name and shake his hand. If you ask me his name a minute later, I can’t recall it, because I wasn’t paying attention to it because I was wondering “Do I know this guy? Is he a friend or foe? Do I owe him money? Maybe he knows where my truck is.
Illustrated by Filomena Jack
I used to be able to remember everyone’s name and face, from long-lost friends and co-workers to neighbors and their pet dogs.
Now when I meet someone, whom I am supposed to know, but can’t recall, I politely smile, say hello, and play the “please give me a hint” game of hoping that the person will say something that will jog my memory and reveal the name.
Usually, the person can tell by the panicked blank look on my face that I can’t recall their name, and they will say something helpful, like, “You don’t remember me, do you? Well, let me give you a hint. We dated for several months in college, you told me you loved me and wanted to marry me. My mother was right. You’re a self-absorbed a-hole. I hope you rot in hell.”
And that’s an example of one of my more friendly nameless exchanges.
By now, my name memory banks are so bad, that sometimes, when I get up in the morning, I have to look at my driver’s license to see what my name is.
Often, while conversing, I stop mid-sentence to try and recall the name of the person I’m talking about.
It doesn’t matter because the people listening don’t know the dude and don’t care. They’re thinking “Get on with the story, Gramps. I got a life to lead.”
But that doesn’t matter, to my dwindling mind. What’s important is that I WANT TO KNOW. I gotta know. It’s driving me friggin’ crazy.
In a panic, I recite the possible sound-alike names.
“It’s Ted, Tim, Tom or something, short like that.”
Next comes the desperate theatrics. I hit myself in the forehead with my palm, hoping to shake something loose. I glance up to my left, scrunching up my face into a taunt and almost painful mind-searching frown as I try to access my short-term memory banks. Nada.
By now, I’ve forgotten what the story was about, and my audience has wandered away.
I eventually remembered the dude’s name, at 2 a.m. while trying to fall asleep in bed.
I try the associated picture trick, when I meet someone, to create a mental image to go along with his/her/other name.
Recently, while grocery shopping, I ran into my friend, Steve, who was with another guy, named Ray Rickle. He introduced me to him and my cartoonist mind went to work to picture his name.
“His last name sounds like ‘pickle,’” I thought to myself. “And he has a big nose, so, I’ll picture him with a kosher dill pickle where his nose should be with a Ray of sunshine on it. “
I ran into Ray a few weeks later.
Ray (noticing the puzzled “who the hell is this?” look on my face): “Hi Jim. We met a few weeks ago. I was with Steve. Remember?”
Me: (displaying my best smiling lying face) “Sure I remember you. You’re Ray sunburned Picklenose.”
I was so embarrassed. I did the only thing I could.
I stopped shopping at Wegmans.
To contact and learn more about Filomena Jack and to see her artwork go to www.FilomenaJackStudio.com.