I know you well. It’s true I always have a little trouble with your name, but I do know your name. I just don’t know it at this moment.
We’re at a big party. We’ve kissed hello. We’ve had a delightful conversation about how we are the last two people on the face of the earth who don’t kiss on both cheeks. Now we’re having a conversation about how phony1 all the people are who do kiss on both cheeks. Ha ha ha ha ha.
You’re so charming. If only I could remember your name. It’s inexcusable2 that I don’t. You’ve been to my house for dinner. I tried to read your last book. I know your girlfriend’s name, or I almost know.
It’s something like Chanelle. Only it’s not. Chantelle? That’s not it either. Fortunately, she isn’t here, so I haven’t forgotten both of your names.
I’m becoming desperate. It’s something like Larry. Is it Larry? No, it’s not. Jerry? No, it’s not. But it ends with a y. Your last name: three syllables, starts with a c. Starts with a g?
I’m losing my mind.
But a miracle occurs: The host is about to toast the guest of honor. Thank God. I can escape to the bar.
I will spend the rest of the night scrolling through3 the alphabet in an attempt to come up with your name. If I fail, there’s always Google.
If only I could remember what that last book was about.
Have we met? I think we’ve met. But I can’t be sure.
We were introduced, but I didn’t catch your name because it’s so noisy at this party.
I’m going to assume we know each other and I’m not going to say, “Nice to meet you.” If I say, “Nice to meet you,” I know what will happen. You’ll say, “We’ve met.” You’ll say it in a sort of aggressive4, irritable5 tone. And you won’t even tell me your name.
So I’m not going to say, “Nice to meet you.” I’ll have a big smile on my face. I won’t look desperate. But what I’ll be thinking is, please throw me your name. Please, please, please. Give me a hint. My husband is likely to walk up, and I’ll have to introduce you, and I won’t be able to, and you’ll know that I have no idea who you are, even though we probably spent an entire weekend together on a boat in 1984.
And even though I have a secret signal with my husband that involves my pinching6 him very hard on the upper arm—a signal that means “Throw your name at this person because I have no idea whom I’m talking to”—my husband always forgets the secret signal. He can’t be counted on to respond to my pinching, even when it produces a bruise7.
I would like to chew my husband out8 about his forgetfulness on this point, but I’m not exactly in a position to do so, since I myself have forgotten (if I ever knew it) the name of the person I’m talking to.
Old friends? We must be. You’re delighted to see me. I’m delighted to see you. But who are you? Oh my God, you’re Jane. I can’t believe it. Jane.
“Jane! How are you? It’s been—how long has it been?”
I’d like to suggest that the reason I didn’t recognize you right off the bat9 is that you’ve done something to your hair. But you’ve done nothing to your hair, nothing that would excuse my not recognizing you.
What you’ve actually done is gotten older. I don’t believe it.
You used to be my age, and now you’re much, much, much older than I am. You could be my mother. Unless of course I look as old as you and I don’t know it.
Which is not possible.
Or is it?
I’m looking around the room and I notice that everyone in it looks like someone, and when I try to figure out exactly who that someone is, it turns out to be a former version of herself, a thinner version or a healthier version or a pre-plastic-surgery version or a taller version.
If this is true of everyone, it must be true of me. Mustn’t it?
But never mind: You are speaking.
“Maggie,” you say. “It’s been so long.”
“I’m not Maggie,” I say.
“Oh, my God,” you say. “It’s you. I didn’t recognize you. You’ve done something to your hair.”
我的老朋友？ 绝对是！见到我，你很高兴；看到你，我也很开心。可是，你是谁？ 哎呀，天啊，是珍妮。真不敢相信。是你，珍妮！
2. inexcusable adj. 不可饶恕的
3. scroll through 浏览
4. aggressive adj. 气势汹汹的
5. irritable adj. 易怒的, 性急的
6. pinch v. 掐
7. bruise n. 瘀伤
8. chew out <俚>训斥
9. right off the bat 立即