Duncan Suzuki

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Do I know this person?

Ever have someone speak to you as if they know you well, but you can’t figure out how you know them?

It happens to me a lot these days even though I used to be really good at remembering faces, if not names.

There was a time when I could meet a person once, then see them many months later and still remember where I met them. I may not have always remembered their name, but I could quickly figure out how I knew them.

Not anymore. Apparently that’s an ability that fades with age and I think it’s about to become invisible with me.

These days I’m finding myself frequently encountering people who seem to know me, but I can’t figure out how the heck I know them. It can be rather embarrassing because it’s hard to concentrate on what they’re saying to me when the only thing running through my mind is “Do I know this person?”

While most of the problem is probably the result of my fading memory, sometimes I wonder if it is related to my profession. I don’t by any means claim to be a celebrity. After all, most of my audience doesn’t see my face on a regular basis.

Yes, it’s true I have my face plastered on this column every week (well, almost every week), but I doubt people would easily recognize me in public as a result. Never mind the fact my hair is much longer now and you’re more likely to see me in eyeglasses than contacts.

(Ever tried to get used to bi-focal contact lenses? It’s not an easy task since one eye is for seeing things at a distance and the other is for seeing things close-up. But I digress. That’s a topic for another column.)

People do see me out and about at public events though and come to know my face, if not me personally. Since they also know my name it sometimes prompts them to say, “Hey, Melinda.”

I, of course, say hello back. Then the wheels in my mind start spinning out of control as I try to figure out how I know them. I think the wheels of that train have derailed a couple of times in the process.

My father most likely prompted one of those episodes quite a few years ago in Roanoke. It’s a humorous story and I’ll share it with you at his expense. I doubt he remembers the incident, but I remember it well.

It all happened when I went with mom and dad to a garden show at the Roanoke Civic Center years ago. Mom and I were off on our own doing something at the garden show while daddy decided to mill about in the crowd. As he walked along he spotted a face he recognized.

Well, since he knew the face he felt sure he knew the person. Although he couldn’t put a name with the face, he didn’t want to be rude and let the man think he didn’t recognize him. So daddy approached the man, shook his hand, and said something like, “Hey, how’ve you been.”

I don’t recall what else may have been said (daddy told us at the time), but it was probably something to do with the show or the weather. After all, the conversation couldn’t be too deep since daddy couldn’t remember how he knew this person.

Following the encounter, daddy continued on his way, the wheels still spinning in his brain as he tried to figure out who that man was. It suddenly hit him and he felt kind of silly. It was a weatherman from one of the Roanoke television stations.

Yes, daddy had seen this man’s face many times – on the evening news.

Of course, that man had never seen daddy’s face. I bet the old wheels started spinning in his brain for a while though.

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