esme has been having a really embarrassing problem recently (no, no unmentionable body-parts involved): she has been repeatedly calling people by the wrong names. at first she just could not come up with a name if she had not seen a person for, say, a week. she began to keep a mental list of names grouped into categories: an ann category, a marilyn category, a french name category. this helped a bit, as esme is better at abstractions than particulars. and she kind of cracked herself up thinking of the categories, which she imagined were at least somewhat original.
this latest development, however, is more pernicious. rather than forgetting a name, esme has found herself calling people the WRONG name. it’s usually people she sees in the same setting—the gym, a clothing store. and despite esme’s absolutley abject apologies, she can tell that the individuals involved are not happy. even worse is that right after apologizing, esme has been known to make the same mistake again! omg! what can one do?
whereas trying to remember a name is an analytical process (thinking of the category, coming up with the first letter, waiting for the brain to yield up her goods), calling someone the wrong name happens instantaneously and without thought. it is an odd sensation: a name appears to go directly from one’s eye to one’s mouth without stopping at the brain.
esme’s technique for dealing with this disturbing development is the following: she stops herself from greeting anyone spontaneously. rather, before her mouth can open, she checks in with her brain: that’s claire, right? check. ok. “hi claire!”
so far, esme has not had to employ this technique for objects. but the moment she calls a blouse a skirt….omg, call the men in white!
suffering from slippage of the brain,