The Stephen Warrington™ Method of Name Retention

November 12, 2009

Here’s one they don’t teach in Dale Carnegie.

I am not just horrible with names, I am abyssmal. Consider, if you will, the following actual encounter (note: this is not the actual encounter. this is a dramatic re-creation):

Mise-en-scène: I miss the first and arrive for the second weekly meeting of the birth class. After a brief lesson in pelvic floor care we are separated into gender-specific groups. I sit down next to two of the other five men who comprise the male half of the six (including Courtney and I) couples in the class. We are all wearing name tags.

Me: So have you guys already met?

2nd guy: Yes, but not officially, we all said our names last time.

Me: (eying his nametag) I’ve got that much on you already.

………

Me: I’m Steve

2nd guy: Hi, Dave (I think it was Dave)

3rd guy: Craig (I think it was Craig)

Another guy sits down.

4th guy: Have you guys already met? (he must have missed the first class too)

Me: We were just talking about that. I’m steve. (I don’t remember his name).

We shake hands: me-guy 4. They shake hands: guy 4-guy 3, guy 4-guy 2. Guy 5 sits down, the name-exchange process is repeated, without the handshakes: me-guy 5,  guy 5-guy 4, guy 5-guy 3, guy 5-guy 2. I don’t remember his name. Guy 6 sits down. His nametag says Roel.

Guy 4: Roel? Is that…

Roel: Dutch.

I have forgotten all four of the other men’s names already, but I will never forget Roel’s. Not because he’s dutch, not because he was wearing the brightest pinkest shirt I have ever seen on a man, not because he designs software, but because he wasn’t just one more dave or craig or steve.

When I meet someone for the first time, I am thinking a hundred other things besides their name. In fact, the name is probably the least important of all of the wash of particularities that flow from one person to another in a first encounter. Are they a threat, are they attractive, are they intelligent, are they deceptive, are they warm, do they have style, etc etc etc.

But Roel! Tall, blonde, pink-shirted Dutch Roel. All I can think to ask him is if he has seen “The Limey”, with it’s Luis Guzmán Eduardo Roel character. He hasn’t of course, being Dutch, so I don’t. Even more, why do I remember the name of a supporting character in a movie I saw three years ago? I will tell you why: because it’s a super sticky name.

Courtney and I are in the midst of choosing a name for the boy that will be delivered in January. This is no small task. It is, in fact, an awesome responsibility, and as such has me tripping over every name I like to think I like. But this I learned last night with the guys: whatever it is, it better be sticky.

I pretty much every time joke when someone asks what we’ll name him: Ichabod. Cleetus. Malachi. Pervis. Etc. But what’s not funny about those names is that I guaraneffingtee you you would remember Cleetus’ name when you met him. You might laugh about it later, but you would never forget.

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