You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘cocktail parties’ tag.
Here’s an inquiry from a Facebook Friend
Sometimes when you see someone in person after you haven’t seen them in a long time, you might not recognize them right away. Whether we want to admit it or not, some of us have changed over the years 🙂
Hair changes. Cheeks change. Jaws change. Teeth change. Anything can change, hour by hour, day by day — even without the assistance of a surgeon or a hair-dresser, even without the assistance of a well-meaning :).
A glitter in the eye remains the same, always, as a means of welcome. A nod or a mild wave across the air can most often cover the reach of an uncomfortable room.
If a gentleman friend appears healthy, and has trimmed down, it’s always right to cheer him on by saying, “Well, Eric, you’re certainly looking fit.” To which he will usually respond by saying, “Thanks. I’ve been working on it.” If such is not the case — and if he has lost weight for some reason he’d rather not talk about — he will say, “Thanks. And how are you?”
If a lady friend has lost weight, or if her hair color has changed, or if her jawline has been joisted up to a point where she is virtually unrecognizable, she is usually aware of that fact, and will go ahead and re-introduce herself, even to some semi-intimate acquaintances. If one is forced into the most discomforted of corners, where there is no possible means of remembering the lady’s name, the only appropriate greeting is a quick kiss followed by, “Don’t you look wonderful?” or “I love you in purple!” or “You’ve got to tell me about that pin!”
“I’m on my way to the bar. Will you come with me?” provides a ready escape from almost any awkward encounter, in passing, with a lady left alone.
Then one can only pray for another person to come along — a person with a name one actually knows — so that one can say to his lady-friend, “I want you to meet my friend Bobo Highsworth.” To which one can only pray that the re-done lady will pitch in and say, as she would appropriately do in any social situation, “Hello, Bobo. I’m Angela Taughtely. It’s so nice to meet you.” If the introducer is left foundering in absolutely desperate straits, his last resort (or his first resort, if he sees trouble brewing, from afar) is to chat amongst the three of them, for just the space of a breath, and then say, “I’m sure you know each other.”
In the most potentially awkward of situations, a gentleman’s only out is to say, “You’re going to have to forgive me. I fear you’re going to have to introduce yourselves.”
But a gentleman can only do that once in a lifetime, with any one pair of acquaintances.
Otherwise, he will have to find a corner where he can stand by himself, until his friend Angela Taughtely draws him into the room and says, “You do know my friend Bobo Highsworth. Don’t you?”
I had absolutely no idea who you were, the other night at a cocktail party.
It was probably my mother’s fault.
Sometime last week, NPR reported “the results of a recent scientific study” indicating that the gift for recognizing the faces of others, at cocktail parties and elsewhere, may be inherited. In that study — if I understood it correctly — some relatively newborn babies were presented with a chart consisting of a square, a triangle, and a smiley face. First time around, nothing much happened. Second time around, the selfsame babies slapped on the smiley face.
I wish I could be as lucky as those babies. And I wish I could politely slap your face at a cocktail party, as well, if it would help me remember your name.
Reconnecting with faces may be a gift, but remembering the names to go with them is a craft.
Once you’ve been introduced to a person, repeating that person’s name, over the course of the conversation, early on, usually helps. (As in, “Yes, Jared, I was wondering, Jared, what you were doing with your poodles, Jared”; or ” Yes, Jeannette, I was wondering how you, Jeannette, made that happen with your hair, Jeannette”; or “Yes, Morcum, I was wondering whatever happened to my 401K, Morcum. I thought you, Morcum, were taking care of it.)
Mnemonics (the trick of memory games) may help. For example: It helps if I remember that “David,” of a couple, is “dark,” as opposed to Michael, who is “mild.” It also helps if I look at my friend Callie and remember that she and her husband live on Bittersweet. (Bittersweet is a flower; so is a calla lilly; every connection boosts.)
But if a face and a name don’t click — particularly if the face has been reworked or the hair has been re-colored — there’s no embarrassment in saying what my good friend Henschel usually says to people he may have met before : “I’m sorry; but I fear you have the advantage of me.”
Worse things might have happened. The research reported on NPR also involved chimpanzees, and their handlers, most of whom were wearing masks. No faces were ever recognized.
I’ve been to that party, too. Haven’t you?