Hey … I think I know you

The first thing I noticed was the black vest.

I was rounding the corner to the local church where Samantha Power was holding a talk and signing for her new book, when I saw him holding a conversation outside.

Once I saw his face, I recognized him for more than just the vest, but the first clue was the vest he has always worn to the meetings of the networking group I joined not that long ago, including that morning.

Could I tell you his name? I could not. And as I found out later, he didn’t know mine.

My childish mind might have realized that she needed to eat, just like we did, and go to the store for food, just like we did, but I don’t think I was able to register that she could go to the store the same time as we did.

The first memory I have of seeing someone out of context is going to the grocery store with my parents as a child and seeing my math teacher loading items into her car.

My childish mind might have realized that she needed to eat, just like we did, and go to the store for food, just like we did, but I don’t think I was able to register that she could go to the store the same time as we did.

More recently, when the instructor for my exercise class returned from an absence, the people greeting her included someone I originally didn’t recognize … even though she has been in the class almost as long as I have and is one of the class leaders.

Why? Because I had never seen her in anything other than gym clothes and with her hair in a ponytail, but since she wasn’t going to be in class that night, she was wearing work clothes and had her hair down.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to figure it out.

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As Suzi and I were taking our seats in the church where Power was speaking, a man a few rows in front caught my eye, smiled and waved.

It certainly was nice of him, but it was a little unusual for some random person in public to be that friendly to a stranger, so I started processing … processing …

And then, just as my brain started to pull it together, he held out his hand like he was holding a paddle …

… a pickleball paddle.

That’s how I knew him; we play pickleball together.

About five minutes later, as I was processing that out-of-context encounter, a woman I also play pickleball with walked in. We recognized each other immediately, helped on my part that we played a game as partners the day before.

I spent the rest of the time before the event started to see if anyone else from the group showed up, since with four people, we could have gotten a game going.

When it was over, I saw him as we walked out.

“Tomorrow?” I said.

“Tomorrow,” he replied.

They arrived and left separately, and even though they sat in the same row, they weren’t next to each other.

He came by himself to pickleball Saturday, and she was by herself the next Monday.

But I still had this nagging suspicion.

And now things get even more embarrassing … for me, anyway.

They arrived and left separately, and even though they sat in the same row, they weren’t next to each other.

He came by himself to pickleball Saturday, and she was by herself the next Monday.

But I still had this nagging suspicion. So when I was waiting to get back on the court between games, I asked one of my friends … “Are they married?”

They are.

And the answer wasn’t just yes, but a “Well, yeah … everyone knows that” kind of yes.

Except, apparently, me.

Later on, I fessed up to her, to find out that not only are they married, they’ve been married for 26 years.

My only defenses were that I hadn’t seen them come or go together (other people told me that’s normal for them) and I never heard them talk about it, unlike other couples I play with who I know are married.

But still, you would have thought I’d notice … something.

So now I just assume there are other couples I don’t know about yet, and that someday I’ll look foolish if I run into them somewhere.

I’m going to guess all the people in this photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash recognized each other on sight, but you never know.

6 thoughts on “Hey … I think I know you

  1. I have prosopagnosia, also called face blindness. It’s the inability to recognize faces, and it occurs in two percent of the population. Most people find it hard to believe that such a disability exists. It will certainly inhibit your social life. Ronald Reagan probably had it–he was unable to recognize his son at graduation. Wikipedia has an excellent article.

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