Two scenarios culled from the rigors of the real world.


 

Two scenarios culled from the rigors of the real world.


Scenario one: You pull into a gas station. You’re there to pump gas. There’s no reason to believe a social encounter looms. You don’t live near this gas station. You don’t frequent this gas station that often. You don’t even like this gas station. It’s overpriced, but you need gas now.


There’s a man pulled into the pumps next to where you are parked. You glance at him.


He glances back.


You look away and proceed on toward the retail establishment to pay for your gas.


He calls to you, “Frank! How are you? It’s great to see you, Frank!”


You stop and face the man. …


Let’s break off at this juncture to consider scenario two.


Scenario two: You’re at an annual family gathering. You’re there to enjoy your family’s company. It’s a wonderfully familiar, fun event. You have no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary, just good food and great company.


Suddenly, a woman enters from an adjoining room. You glance at her.


She glances back.


You look away and proceed to the hors d’oeuvres table to load up on more cheddar cheese and pepperoni.


She calls to you, “Frank! How are you? It’s great to see you, Frank!”


You stop and face the woman. …


What do these two encounters have in common besides the unimaginative text and the conversational evidence indicating you’re a sweetheart of an individual?


It’s this. You can’t remember either of their names.


And it’s not a momentary lapse from which you’ll recover. You’re as clueless as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman in Silicon Valley.


Should you acknowledge that you’re a knucklehead and can’t recall their name?


No, that could jeopardize your sweetheart-of-an-individual status.


You smile as broadly as possible, and respond, “Wow! I haven’t seen you in a million years! How the heck are you?”


Scenario one man: “Great, Frank! Frank, I live near here now, Frank. Frank, where are you living now, Frank? Oh, Frank, Frank, Frank, Frank.”


Scenario two woman: “Wonderful, Frank! It’s great to see you here again, Frank. I was thinking about you the other day, Frank. Oh, Frank, Frank, Frank, Frank.”


You mull a response, smiling still more broadly, noting that they have each used your first name a nightmarish number of times.


You attempt free association in your head, trying to come up with the name. “Person, merson, herson, people, weeple, lady, grady, guy, pie, eagleye, hector, shmector, lisa, weesa, linguica. …”


Free association never works.


Still, you soldier on, emphasizing “you” because you’re too overcome with happiness at this encounter to sully it with the use of a first name. Anyone can do that.


“You are looking great. You are something else. You! Boy oh boy, you!”


And your exit is the same. Smile still more broadly, and back slowly away, repeating, “You, you, you …” until you’re out of earshot.


You made it. They’ll never catch on.


Don’t miss next week’s scenario culled from the rigors of the real world: Someone thinks your name is Fred and you’re not sure how to correct them.


Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.