I’m known for having a rather freakishly good memory, but there have been several occasions where I’m pretty sure people tried to act like they didn’t remember me. It was very awkward and I didn’t know what to say. Other times I’m positive people don’t remember me because we met very briefly and they would have no reason to remember me.
Years ago I attended the funeral of a woman whose family I had known a pretty long time. Some of their kids were around my age and my sister especially spent quite a bit of time at their house. I went down the line giving each family member my condolences until I reached the son who was about my age. It had been a long time and I had gained a lot of weight, so I thought he might not recognize me. I said, “Hi ____. Sarah (stated my maiden name). I thought you might not recognize me.” He immediately said, “Sorry, I don’t remember you.” I said, “You must remember my sister ____ coming to your house.” “Sorry. Don’t remember.” he said rather disinterestedly.
His wife shot him a glance as if to say, “What the heck is wrong with you? Just thank her for coming and say it’s nice to see her!” I think we’ve all had situations where we might not remember someone, but I think most people would say, “I’m so sorry! I’m having a hard time remembering you.” OK, he must have been distraught about his mother, but still. I would never treat anyone that way. I realize I’m about to have another run in with him, but this time I will avoid him. I think it would be hilarious though if he approached me and suddenly got his memory back. I’ll be tempted to say, “Sorry, I’m drawing a blank. Who are you?”
Maybe he doesn’t like me. Or maybe he thinks I remember things about his youth and doesn’t want me to remember him. Who knows? Maybe he thought I would say in front of his wife, “Remember your Vanilla Ice phase? That was fun.” But I wouldn’t do that. I will remember it in my head and laugh.
Another time I was so surprised to see a man who used to accompany me on the piano 15 years ago, which he did over a period of about two years. He was amazed by my voice. He said, “I know another Sarah who sings well.” I thought he meant someone he knew personally. I asked, “Who?” He said, “Sarah Brightman.” I laughed, “You know someone who sings better than me!”
Unfortunately, our last exchange wasn’t very pleasant because he made the mistake of bagging on his wife to me. I was already aware there were problems, but I didn’t say anything. He had asked me many times if I knew this woman named *Mary who had moved away before I moved into the area. I heard him ask many other people if they knew Mary. “Long dark hair. Very beautiful.” he always said. He later declared she was the most beautiful woman in our ward (congregation). Not his wife? Still, I said nothing except to tell him I didn’t know Mary the last time he asked me either.
Finally one evening when we were rehearsing at the church, he made some comment about his wife not liking his music. (Can’t say I blame her since it was mostly a bunch of flowery runs with no discernible tune). We then had the following conversation.
Me: “Oh, really?”
Him: “My wife doesn’t like a lot of things.”
Me: “Like what?”
Him: “Well, she doesn’t like it when I have female friends.”
Me: “I wouldn’t like that either.”
Him: “Why can’t men and women be friends?!”
Me: “They just can’t! I mean, you can be friendly, but spending time alone together with people you’re not married to is not OK. Like I was told as a teenager, if we weren’t interested in marrying a certain type of person, then we shouldn’t date them. You’re not going to marry someone you never dated and you’re not going to have an affair with someone if you’ve never spent time alone with them.”
Him: “Well I just don’t see why they can’t be friends!”
Me: “It hurts your wife’s feelings and that should be reason enough. And while we’re on the subject, I wasn’t going to say anything, but you have repeatedly asked me and others about this woman named Mary and obviously that is an issue for your wife. You have asked me if I’ve met her multiple times. You have described her as very beautiful. You have never asked me if I’ve met your wife. You have never told me your wife is beautiful.”
Of course, he didn’t share the part where Mary would ask a friend to babysit while she had an appointment when she was really going running with him. And it might have been an innocent activity in her mind, but why lie? Because she knew it looked wrong. And he didn’t mention how he would call Mary using a calling card from the church (thinking no one would notice that). If you’re hiding something from your spouse other than an awesome gift or surprise party, big red flag!
I was 24 at the time and spoke my mind back then I think even more than I do now. I hated to hurt people’s feelings, but I hoped it would somehow help his situation – that he might recognize there was a problem and that everyone knew it. Maybe he and his wife would go to counseling. Maybe he would put more effort into loving her. I told him one final thing, “I don’t think you would like it if your wife were hanging out with a man she described as the most handsome man in the ward.” He said, “I never thought of it that way.”
I was pretty bold with him that night, so when I ran into him last year as he was visiting his daughter and grandchildren at a Halloween activity, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought, “Either that is ____ or he looks exactly like him!” I asked a friend about it and she said it was our friend’s dad. Holy cow! I had no idea! His daughter said, “Oh, you should go say hi to him!” I couldn’t just tell her, “Uh, well, your dad won’t want to talk to me because I kind of chewed him out for being enamored with another woman.” I barely knew her at the time and also didn’t know that he was feeling pretty high and mighty at the moment. That’s a whole other story I’m not going to tell, but he didn’t treat her well. It made me laugh later to think that suddenly I was there to remind him that I knew what kind of person he was.
I said, “Hi Brother ____! It’s been a long time, but I’m Sarah ____ and you used to play the piano for me back in ____! It’s been like 15 years!”
Him: “Uhhhhhhhhhh …….”
Me: “Yeah, remember? I used to sing and you would play the piano for me.
Him: “Uhhhhhhhhh ……”
Me: “Remember my friend A? You used to play for her too! She’s so awesome.”
Him: “Oh. Yeah. She sang on my album.”
Me: “That’s right! I remember you were working on an album! Are you still working at USAA?”
Him: “You remember that? No, I haven’t worked there for a long time. I’ve been teaching music.”
Me: “That’s great! I’m so glad you’re helping others develop their talents. It’s so good to see you. I’ll tell A I saw you!”
I know he remembered me. He looked so uncomfortable. I went home and told my friend A, “Guess who I saw tonight! Brother _____!!!!”
A said, “Oh yeah. He hit on me when I sang on his album.”
Yes, he must have been desperate for me to not remember him. Not surprisingly, he was no longer married, but I was kind enough not to ask him, “How’s your wife doing? What’s her name again? Mary?” Now that would just be plain evil. I’m now very good friends with his daughter and she has verified what a philanderer he is. And here I thought he only had eyes for Mary!
The moral of the story: Don’t remember people if they don’t want to be remembered. Or something.
*Mary is Mary’s real name.