I took my kids to a belated Easter egg hunt with my local Moms Club last week. One of the activities was a game for the moms to get to know each other. We were each given a sheet of paper with various sections of a grid labeled with things like ‘ate cereal for breakfast’ or ‘has taken a piano lesson’. We were instructed to mingle with the other moms and fill in our grid with as many moms names as possible that matched each description, so that we had someone for every spot. This ice breaker game is meant to force us moms to momentarily acknowledge our own existence as someone other than Mommy and acknowledge others too.
Although I am a little shy, and sometimes prefer to just bask in the social aspect of being around other moms, without actually having to learn names or chit chat, I struck out with my crayon and paper to meet some moms.
This is when I realized that while I had met pretty much every mom multiple times before, I remembered about 6% of their names. Shit.
I approached a small group and there were several moms who asked me questions and jotted me down for things without asking my name because they remembered it from when we met before. When I asked one of these women ‘were you born in Virginia?” and she said yes, I had no freakin’ clue what her name was and was too ashamed to admit it.
So I pretended to write, hid my paper so no one could see that I had scribbled only gibberish and moved along to the next person. Yes, a 38 year old woman who could have just said ‘You have been to my house for play dates, talked with me at multiple events, and might even be the godmother of my child, can you tell me what the hell is your name is?” chose instead to sneak around doing fake crayon entries with the subtlety of Swiper the Fox.
I have heard of that thing where people can’t recognize faces — even of people they are close to — so I kept busy convincing myself that I had a serious form of that, only with names. I actually read once that Brad Pitt had the facial recognition thing, so my name thing could totally be real and maybe Brad would be in my therapy meetings!
Just when I started contemplating submitting myself to the University of Virginia for study and wondering if they would give me some sort of certified laminated card that could excuse me from these types of activities in the future, I saw a mom who I knew had attended an event I had recently organized. I recalled meeting her at least one other time at a club meeting as well. I also remembered that she had a little boy. I was getting worried because if I knew all of this, I should know her name and she would certainly know mine.
As she looked at me I could see that she had no freakin’ clue who I was either. Yes! I was safe. I introduced myself and she said her name at the same time. Her name was Susan too! If I can’t remember people who have the same name as me, should I really even be allowed to leave the house unattended? I don’t think so, but here I was. I locked it in for next time and as I said my name, there was a glimmer of recognition in her eye and she said ‘oh, you’re the writer.’
Obviously she had me mistaken with someone else. I am NOT the worst recognizer here! There was a period when people told me I looked like Reese Witherspoon (see her brunette days playing June Carter Cash and my days being younger, thinner and chin pointier), but this writer thing was new.
Feeling so much better about myself, I replied “no” and shook my head kind of looking at her with a squint that said ‘Boy, you really have no idea who I am,. You are so lost and confused, let me help you.”. I may have even made a tongue clicking noise of pity. Who does that?
Then I remembered. Shit. I guess I kind of am a writer. I don’t write with a pen, like on paper and stuff, but I type things. I type things with my fingers and people read it. I share it with them on 900 forms of social media in an effort to get attention for my writing, so yeah, I guess I am a writer.
In that moment I was famous. People (and by people, I mean one person ever) whose name(s) I didn’t know, were recognizing me in public for my writing! This must be how JK Rowling feels. Yep. I was almost ready to set up shop with my crayon and offer autographs on the back of the game grids for my nameless Moms Club following.
If only there were a square on the grid that said ‘Is a writer’, I could probably have remembered my own name and filled it in before willing my body to science.