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The biggest blooper of my life 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Katia works for Francesca and is also friends with friends of ours. I first met her and her husband at the birthday party of our mutual friends, and we’ve also spent a weekend together at our mutual friends’ wedding.

Last week I visited Francesca’s office for the first time. I hadn’t seen Katia since the wedding, and characteristically, I forgot her name. Names are my kryptonite. I forget them often.

I greeted Katia with the customary cheek kisses and while we were speaking in the hallway another of Francesca’s co-workers, Sofia, heard my voice and came out to greet me. I’d met Sofia at a few of their work parties.

After Francesca gave me a tour of her office, just before leaving, I pointed out her office door and across the hall toward Katia’s room, whispering into Francesca’s ear, “What’s her husband’s name?” I had said “her” instead of “Katia” because, as I said before, I couldn’t remember Katia’s name.

“Andrea,” Francesca said.

“Andrea?” I asked, the name not ringing a bell. “Are you sure?”

“Of course.”

After stepping into the hallway, I popped my head into Katia’s room, and said, “Great to see you again. Tell Andrea I said hello.”

Katia pursed her lips and her forehead wrinkled. Stumped, she looked at Francesca, then back at me, then at Francesca again. I felt the blood drain from my face as an icy discomfort chilled the air. I figured Francesca had heard me wrong. Perhaps instead of “What’s her husband’s name?” she’d heard only, “What’s her name?”, which meant her name was Andrea, even though in Italy “Andrea” is a guy’s name.

“Do you mean Dario?” Katia asked.

“Right!” I said, beads of sweat popping up all over my face. “I’m sorry. It’s early. I’m tired.”

I left the building with nerves on fire, furious with myself for always forgetting names and with Francesca for telling me her co-worker’s name when I’d asked for her co-worker’s husband’s name. Francesca was already laughing before I mentioned this fact, but afterward she doubled over, laughing like a lunatic.

After she’d calmed down and managed to catch her breath, Francesca said, “Her name’s Katia. Andrea’s the name of Sofia’s husband.”

Unfortunately, Shaw, I have a history of making a sap of myself. Another recent episode occurred when I ran into a friend of Francesca’s on the street below our apartment. Her name is Manuela. But when she said goodbye and told me to say hello to Francesca, I’d mixed up her name with her husband’s, and said, “Will do, and give my best to Manuele.”

But for all the times I’ve forgotten people’s names (including the time I forgot my godfather’s name during my speech at my own wedding), I did have one redeeming moment last week at the café around the corner from our apartment. One of the waitresses had a baby two months ago. I’d seen the baby’s name on a blue-papered announcement that was taped to the cash register for a few weeks after his birth, and I had made a mental connection with a famous person. After finishing my cappuccino, before leaving the café, I said to the newborn’s aunt and uncle, “How’s Leonardo?”

Their faces brightened as they explained he was well and thanked me for asking.

Francesca was astonished as we walked out the door. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “You never remember anyone’s name.”

“The incredible thing,” I said, “is that I remembered his name was the same as da Vinci’s, but it took me the whole time I was drinking that cappuccino to remember da Vinci’s first name was Leonardo.”

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