May 7: on not recognizing people

Someone I was supposed to recognize was waiting for me at the reception area of my work place on Friday. He was, to all intents and purposes, a stranger beaming at me as I approached him down the corridor. Look who it is! said the Reception. The space for my recognition moment was made. Reception was grinning; the old acquaintance was beaming; what do I do? I don’t know this guy from Adam. It’s Johnnie! said Reception. Recognition was not going to dawn. I play for time. Ah! I say, my eyebrows going upwards as they have to in moments of feigned delight, what are you up to now? Johnnie is working in property development. You’re not an estate agent, are you? No, he isn’t. Excellent. More eyebrow delight. So who was in your class then? I ask. I had apparently taught him for six hours a week for two years. He reels off some names. I remember none of them. Ah yes, I say. How many years ago was that? Only four. My memory has just gone awol. I ferret around for more information. Sometimes an anecdote will put every thing in place. But no. I am doing a lot of nodding and smiling. Johnnie goes off to catch somebody else he might know. Was it obvious, I couldn’t remember him? I ask round. Reception says no. Okay. At least my lying competences remain intact. I go back to my habitual business of strolling blindly through life.

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