Forget You and Forget Her, Too

I have a friend who everyone loves.

Or hates.

She has a polarizing personality, but whether people worship the ground she walks on or hate her stinking guts, they remember her years and years after she’s left their lives forever. I know this because I regularly take very scientific polls on the matter.

I should probably stop starting questions by telling every detail of the incidents I want to see if they remember.

I should probably stop starting questions by telling every detail of the incidents I want to see if they remember.

Me, on the other hand? I’m so far from being memorable that sometimes I forget myself. Just yesterday my boss’ boss’ boss, a man who has assigned several different jobs to me specifically in the last two months, and who I consequently talk to at least twice a week, called me by the wrong name. We all make mistakes and I would have written it off except that it’s the second time in a month that he’s called me by that name in particular.

I’m not even completely sure my own family members remember me. I once caught them frantically pounding on a window to get the attention of a girl on the other side because they thought it was me. We didn’t even look alike except for our hair color and fabulous taste in eyewear. That was the day I discovered that I’m essentially brown hair and a pair of glasses to my immediate family. God forbid I get contacts — it would be like I’d disappeared before their very eyes. They’d slap my picture on a milk carton. Assuming they could even find a picture of me.

Stephanie?

Stephanie?

I don’t know what my memorable friend has that I don’t have. The biggest difference between us is that she’s exceptionally charismatic (like, accidentally-start-a-cult-and-then-realize-what-you’ve-done-and-shrug-sheepishly-and-everyone’s-ok-with-it charismatic) and I’m still waiting for my personal charms to show up. I’m expecting them any day now. But while charm is certainly appealing, it can’t be the whole story.

Characteristics I’ve Noticed in Memorable People

  1. They have obscene levels of charisma. You know it when you see it.
  2. They have some kind of physical distinction, like being eight feet tall or having a surprisingly small nose in proportion to the rest of their face.
  3. They are talkative, yet manage to say nothing at all. It’s like they’re the only ones who know about a secret word quota they must fulfill to ensure they stay in your brain.
  4. They are loud.
  5. They are really, really mean or suspiciously kind.
  6. They wear eye-catching accessories or dye their hair exciting colors.
  7. They look much better in lipstick than I do.

To be memorable, you only need one of these qualities. But it also seems to depend on the person, because none of these qualities can make someone who doesn’t have It, whatever It is, memorable. For example, I’ve forgotten many loud people with neon hair. No one like that comes to mind, anyway.

For qualities of the non-memorable, we go now to me.

Characteristics I’ve Noticed in Myself

  1. My hair color has been described many times as “mousey.”
  2. I am average height.
  3. I am within the average weight range for my average height.
  4. I have an average shoe size.
  5. I’m sort of quiet.
  6. I go crazy for Pumpkin Spice Lattes like everyone else.
  7. Even my bra size is average.

Maybe I don’t stand out in a crowd, but all I want is for people to remember my name if we’ve had a conversation before, and especially if I’m knee-deep in three projects they personally assigned me. Is that too much to ask?

The thing about not being remembered is that it makes you feel like you aren’t enough. Not smart enough, or witty enough, or likable enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough. It’s like you didn’t bring your A-game to life. You brought your C average-game, and no one is impressed or even cares. You’re boring. It’s not a good feeling.

So when people forget me (and it happens a lot), I try to remember that there are things about me that stand out. I have quirks. I have preferences. I make probably too many puns, hate celery, and bake a mean pumpkin pie. Dammit, I am a person who exists and who matters.

On the other hand, this might be a superpower. Secret and vague government agencies are always using agents with forgettable faces for their most classified missions, according to my dear friend Television. I would be great at that.

In fact, here is a picture of me in my favorite outfit.

In fact, here is a picture of me in my favorite outfit.

So come recruit me, vague government agencies! I’ve already packed an anonymous suitcase full of my blandest clothing.

Everyone else, please forget I was ever here.

(You already had, hadn’t you?)

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28 comments

  1. manvishah

    You’re perfect just the way you are. You’re beautiful. And God dammit, you probably took someone’s breathe away when you smiled that perfect non lipstick smile. The stranger on the public saw your smart eye glasses and thought wow. And you are, was and will always be enough, for yourself. Cause you are you. And nothing and No one, No matter how hard they tried will be able to be you. And you’re here, so it counts. Love yourself and people will love you. 😁

  2. Diane

    This cracked me up. Sometimes I wonder if people know my actual name. I’m usually introduced by people as Eliot’s wife, the coach’s wife, Caitlyn and Drew’s mom and yes, even as PTA Lady. I was recently at a hockey game with my son and husband (we have season tickets) when another season ticket holder couple from our section came over to talk to us. The wife actually leaned over me to shake hands with my husband and son but acted like I didn’t exist. Later her husband explained to her that I was the wife/mom and she was appalled at her behavior and came to apologize saying “I didn’t know you were with them”. My family and I are so used to me being invisible it has actually become a game to us… how long does it take the person to figure out who I am. Sad but true.

  3. Pingback: Forget You and Forget Her, Too | tightlinesandsunshine
  4. George

    More times than not it’s beneficial floating under the radar, though it can be a little annoying at times. But the bigger question us if you’re happy with yourself. If you are, then the hell with what anyone else thinks, remembers or talks about. At least that’s what I think.

  5. LifeLoofah

    I too am a member of the forgettable people club. I think it’s about being a quiet person. If you don’t make a big impact on someone by saying something important or funny and at the precisely appropriate moment, then they likely won’t remember. I chalk it up to people having busy lives and already-overflowing brains.

  6. Jay

    Yup, you may be the perfect “assassin material” and didn’t even know it. Good luck with the recruitment and keep in mind that if we meet in assassin school, I would remember you (or maybe not, depending on your preference)…Awesome post!

  7. imtoofancy

    Perhaps you should develop a very firm handshake. People won’t forget you if you break their hand. I joke, of course! The guy who can’t remember your name is an a$$hat. Or senile. Either way, forget that fool.

  8. heyjude6119

    I always have to wonder about those people when they are alone. Do they get enough attention? Can they survive being alone? My problem is I can be talking to people and no one’s paying attention. It’s like they can’t hear me. I don’t want to have to shout to get their attention, but sometimes I’m tempted.

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  10. hazelberrythickshake

    You know what I think truly makes a person memorable? Being comfortable in their own skin, they’re always the people that stick in my mind. That people who embrace their quirks and don’t worry about what other people think of them are the most memorable.
    You sound like such an interesting, witty, intelligent and insightful person, don’t ever think you’re average.

  11. melissajanisin

    Excellent post, I love this. I wear lipstick all the time and suspect I am still forgettable. Also, people tend to talk over me, almost always. On the bright side – I don’t even care! God love me.

  12. Diane

    Keep in mind there are people like me that cannot remember faces. I’ve never been formally diagnosed with face blindness, but I can tell you this is a lifelong problem. It is so embarrassing. I try rehearsing people’s names under my breath as we are introduced …. (BettyBettyBettyBetty) inserting their names regularly into conversation (I totally agree with you Betty. And you know, Betty, in my opinion …). Nothing works. You and I could have shared a sandwich and laughed at each other’s jokes and exchanged phone numbers and the next time I see you I’m like … “Uh… hi!” (omigod omigod hope she doesn’t realize I forgot her name.) And I will (and I do) think you are a wonderful, witty person, and yet if I call you Betty (you can call me Al) it is totally not a reflection on you. I am just so retarded.

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