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John Lamb column: And your name is?

While the holidays are a time for good will and cheer, it can also be a season filled with anxiety and stress for some. Long-gone friends, family and former co-workers pop up during this time of the year and it can be hard keeping all the names s...

While the holidays are a time for good will and cheer, it can also be a season filled with anxiety and stress for some.

Long-gone friends, family and former co-workers pop up during this time of the year and it can be hard keeping all the names straight.

The personal files on many of these people have long since been purged from your memory and recovery of basic information can be a painstakingly awkward experience.

Two years ago I received a card from a family standing in front of an airplane. I didn't recognize anyone in the picture, but still replied, saying how uplifting it must be to have overcome the family's collective fear of flying. I would've asked if I could catch a ride some time, but that seemed a little weird.

Recently at a concert in Minneapolis, I ran into an acquaintance. It should've been a pleasant reunion, but it quickly became obvious neither one of us remembered the other's name.

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After an uncomfortably long pause, it was clear names were not being connected to faces. I took the initiative by stating where I presumed we had previously met.

"Yup, we don't have many shows like this back home," I said, then leaned in and stressed, "back in ... Fargo, North Dakota."

(I've since learned there are so many F-M expatriates in the Twin Cities that "Don't I know you from Fargo?" has become a handy pick-up line in certain circles. Sadly, it does nothing here.)

He caught the hometown reference and nodded slowly. Taking another step, I took a shot at what I thought might be a mutual friend and asked if he had seen Anna around.

He looked at me blankly as if he had never heard of the name I was hoping could put things in context. I took one last desperate stab at remembering his name. In retrospect I should've just asked, "Didn't we use to tease you about your name?" or "I'm a little short on cash, can you write me a check for $20?"

Instead I asked if he didn't get his name tattooed on his body and could I see it.

Freaked out and thoroughly confused, he announced plans to return to his drink. As he walked away, he turned around.

"I'm really sorry, but I can't remember your name," he said.

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When I told him he nodded slowly as the pieces fit together. He started walking away again, then turned back and asked, "Do you know my name?"

I nodded vigorously, as if to say, "Who could forget a name as distinctive and commanding as yours?"

He asked, "What is it?"

A million names went through my mind, but unfortunately the one that jumped out of my mouth was... "Kermit?"

Which wasn't an entirely bad guess. I quickly discovered that his name was Scott and that he knew a Kermit, but by this time he was in no mood to swap yarns about Kermit, Anna, himself or anyone else, and instead hurriedly walked away.

Humiliated and embarrassed about not recognizing him, I called after him, "Well, I'll just catch you later then, Scott. Or did you say your name was Todd?"

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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