Doms Pagliawan

We all have our handicaps. Mine is unique. I have a very poor memory for names—people’s names, that is; especially those that have just been introduced to me.

It’s for this reason that I find it futile sometimes that new acquaintances get introduced to me. I can hear the names, of course, but right after that, I forget them. To my embarrassment at times. Because once there is a need for me to call them by their names right there, I can’t do it.

It’s not that I can’t remember people’s names—I can! It’s just that I take the time to do so. It takes me days, weeks, or months before I can memorize their names as matched with their faces. From the first meeting to that extent, I grope in the dark as to what I should call them in case they happen to be my new colleagues. It’s two-fold, I have difficulty memorizing names, and matching them with their owners.

How I envy those people with a computer-like memory for names. I know of some. I came across a teacher who had memorized his students’ names, including their nicknames. Every time they met elsewhere on the campus, he would call them by their names. Another one I know is a college president who could memorize even the names of their foreign students, with the latter’s hard-to-pronounce names.

It really takes time for me to internalize names matched with the faces. But this could be expedited, especially if these new acquaintances make some initiatives and finally make it to my attention, and eventually to my memory. If one makes it to my heart, that would be better. Make no mistake, though, I mean no malice here. This could mean that, perhaps, one lent me money in a time of need.

Make no mistake, further, because, at the introduction stage, I get to know a person right away, through some other way. I may not be good at noting names, at memorizing them, but as a visual person, I can figure out a person at once: that he is my student, that he is a colleague, that he is a superior, etc. Just don’t ask me what the name is. How funny! But it’s not amusing at all. I don’t like it either.

But you know what, the moment one’s name matched with the face sinks into my memory, it’s good as lasting. It will become part of my memory bank. I don’t easily forget. Slow to memorize, but slow to forget as well. I guess this is better than quick to recognize but is also quick to forget. What do you think?

Seriously, you can blame it on my being a visual person that I am like this. This makes me a bit confused. Music to me is auditory, not visual. You show me notes, but I can’t read them. But let me hear a musical sound and I can appraise it. When it comes to getting to know people, though, I am visual, not auditory. Forgive this handicap. Please bear with me.