Have you ever had one of those moments when you see someone you just know you’ve met before yet you couldn’t put a name to the face?
I had such an experience tonight when out to dinner with two friends. At the restaurant, I saw this guy I was certain I had met when I was in DC. it seemed my friend Pete (not his real name) had introduced us. Then, I thought maybe we had met at a Jewish group, and he knew Pete.
But, I wasn’t sure.
It reminded me of the time, shortly after I moved to LA when I was walking through Beverly Hills and saw another familiar face. I was all but certain this guy and I had gone to law school together. Just as I was about to say, “I haven’t seen you since law school,” I realized that this guy wasn’t a classmate. He was Christian Slater whom I’d first seen in a flick right before I set off for law school.
It struck me that in LA, sometimes when someone looks familiar, it could just be someone we had seen in a movie, on TV (even in a commercial).
I didn’t say anything to this guy for fear of embarrassing myself, in case he was an actor. (Now that I think about it he did kind of look like that guy in the Verizon commercials.)
I ponder yet again the way our memory works. And remember Marcel Proust. When the narrator of In Search of Lost Time dips a madeleine (a pastry) into his cup of tea, he recalled doing the same thing as a child. That act released a flood of memories which became that great novel. This guy’s image today didn’t unleash a flood of memories, but it did trouble me that I couldn’t remember where I had met him (or seen him).
Sometimes when I do see a familiar face which I can’t place, I find that when I learn the guy’s (or gal’s) name, it’s like Proust dipping the madeleine into the tea. While it doesn’t bring back my entire childhood to me, the name usually helps me remember how I’d met the person to whom it belongs. And a few things about him as well.
Since I didn’t get a name tonight, I thought I’d do a post. It is an intriguing thing our memory, why we remember certain things at certain times. How learning a name a name can help us remember all we know about a person. And how one simple act can lead to one of the greatest modern novels.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)