Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Name Practice

I'd say 50% of the conversations I have are what I'd call "name practice". "Name practice" sounds like this:
"Hey... Ron. How are you?"
"I'm great! How are you? ... Hello?"
By then the person has already walked away proudly, having successfully remembered my name.

Make that 90%. Also, "name practice" doesn't need to be in quotations anymore. I'm "sorry".

I remember the first time I tried to honestly respond to name practice.
"Hello, Ron?" said Ace, this guy I hate.
"Hey Ace. Listen I need to talk to someone about - "
I'd been cut off. Ace was pumping his fist like he'd just hit a jackpot. I really needed to talk to someone about malaria. It turns out I had it.

It happens in stores and retail areas a lot if you go in there enough. I've learned to trim the fat. The first time I went in it was a friendly, "Hey Ron, how are you today?"
"Well, that's complicated," I replied.
"Uh huh," said the clerk, sweat running down his face.
"Because it's a relative question, not only to me as an individual, but to all of human and non-human life that we're aware of."
The guy just flipped out. He ran out the door, realized it was not a door to outside but to a refrigerator, exited the refrigerator, and punched it. No one likes to be caught in a conversation when they just meant to play name practice. Everybody hates it. Especially that refrigerator.

I learned that day to never play a game of name practice for longer than the practicer intended. It just turns violent, at best. At worst it's been the cause of some of history's worst atrocities.
"Hello, Elijah."
"Hey Adolf Hitler, good to see you. Hey, since you remembered my name, we must be good friends. Let me tell you about my back problems..."
You know how it went from there. Poland invaded Germany, thus starting the great Polish-German War of the 1930s. I'm sure there's a similar story for WWII.

One time I played back. Well, it was more than one time. The first few times were failures.
"Hey Eric? Don? Ron? Glenda? Elijah? Hitler? Scruffy? Lassie? Bow-wow? Moon?..." Clearly I was lost. The second I nailed it.
"Hey Dennis," I said. His name was Buddy, he told me, but I refused to admit it. I don't see the difference between refusing to acknowledge my mistakes and winning. So that one was technically a win in my eyes, but if you want to be a real Nazi about, the third time was when I actually nailed it.
"Hey Charlotte." Charlotte, what an exotic name. Like some kind of spider, or city. I really knocked it out of the park on that one. That would be the last time.

I only played back once because I realized that after knowing each others' names, we did not want to know each other anymore. That was enough for us. It made us realize how ugly each of us are inside, which is great, because we could both agree to stay the hell away from each other. It's nice to come to agreements.

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