Home > City mama, the playground > Failing at the name game

Failing at the name game

Last week, bringing The Child into school, one of the morning teachers stopped me with a big cheery smile. “Hey!” she waved, calling me and the Child by name. “I met a neighbor of yours this weekend.”

“Really?” I smiled, desperatly scavanging in my brain for this woman’s name. She’s one of four teachers, the one who gave me my orientation tour, starts with an M….. “Who?”

“Oh, Amy!” she smiled. 

“Which Amy?” I tried for a sheepish smile. “There are so many!”

“Oh, Hannah’s mom,” she stated, as if that wasn’t one of the most popular names for young girls right now. “I was her doula at her home birth this weekend.”

And there, I had three data points. The woman’s name. Her daughter’s name. The fact that she was recently greatly pregnant. And I had no idea. Not a single clue. It was like…. name a 13th-century fransiscian monk. Total blank.

Maria — the teacher’s name was Maria! I could remember that much! — continued blithely, “I mentioned that I was a teacher at Drumlin Farm and she said right away that she knew you and your daughter!”

I went with generic conversation. “Oh, my goodness! She’s had the baby! Everyone is happy and healthy, I hope? I’ll have to bake something for her, muffins maybe.”

Small talk. Chatter. We waved goodbye. And I’ve spent the past five days trying to figure out who the hell Amy is!? I’ve come up with exactly one candidate – a woman I’ve met a number of times who has a young daughter and was pretty pregnant when I last saw her, back in July. I thought her daughter’s name was Emma, not Hannah, but I could be wrong. I thought her name was Gretchen or Gretel or Gertrude or something else Germanic. (She looks very like a young hausfrau,  with excellent bone structure, golden hair, and a striking but not pretty face.)

This is embarassing enough. But yesterday I bumped into a woman I’ve met a number of times and I like, quite a lot. She and her daughter have very very unusual names — way memorable — and I accidentally called her daughter the wrong name. What’s more, I called her daughter the name of another girl whose mother I would like to be better friend with. And, naturally, they are great friends and my gaffe will get back to her. 

Way to make friends and influence people. Sigh.

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