I don’t know what’s worse… to not recognize or remember an old friend who very obviously recognizes and remembers me, or to recognize or remember an old friend who hasn’t the faintest idea who I am anymore.
Personally, I find that the older I get, the more often I seem to find myself in one of these two awkward situations. I also find that as I age, smaller and smaller gaps of time are required (since our most recent encounter) before somebody forgets who the other is.
And, lucky me. I have found myself smack-dab in the middle of both those scenarios in the past 48 hours.
On Wednesday, I was grocery shopping with Noah when I heard those all-too-familiar words, “Hey Dan!” I spun around, anxious to see who was greeting me. The person staring at me was not a person I knew from Adam, but by the grin on his face I knew he knew me pretty well. “How’s it going?” he chirped happily at me.
I studied him up and down for a moment, and still was drawing a blank. “I’m great,” I said. “You’ll have to remind me how I know you.” He looked at me and his laugh that just moments ago was sincere turned into a laugh of nerves. “It’s me, Brady. We used to hang out down at SUU.”
And then… BOOM.
It all came rushing back to me, and not just slightly. I suddenly experienced flashbacks of all the times we hung out together, went out with girls together, played video games together and more. He wasn’t just some random acquaintance, he was a really good friend back in college.
And it’s not like his looks had changed much. As soon as I knew who he was, I knew who he was. I tried to explain my momentary forgetfulness, but the damage was already done. To not be remembered, especially when you were friends, is almost unrecoverable. We shared a few laughs, a handshake, and went on our awkward ways.
But, I got my just dues. Yesterday I was at the bank, doing whatever it is people do at banks. An old employee of mine walked in and stood in the line next to mine. I knew him pretty well (or so I thought), and so I gave him a big smile and said, “hey Austin!” He spun his face toward me and looked. He winced, a sure sign that he didn’t fully recognize me. “It’s me, Dan Pearce.”
He half-smiled half-laughed and I offered him my hand. He took it, trying to hide the body language that screamed louder than anything he could have said. He didn’t know who I was, and it was making him uncomfortable. “You don’t recognize me, do you.” I stated more than I asked. He shook his head. I then went into the big awkward “explain who I am and that we’re actually friends” routine.
He laughed and said, “Duh! I’m sorry. My mind was on other things.”
I just chortled and told him about my encounter from the day before. Again, we both went our separate ways, both of us feeling weird.
And, that was that. Just call me Mr. Awkward.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. Does this ever happen to you? How do you respond or break the ice when it happens? Anybody have any really funny stories to share?