Unknown ~ The Story Of A Man With A Memory Leak

By W R Jones


    I could not remember the name of the woman I painted in Cold.   Then I started looking at other portraits I have drawn/painted and found several more whos names I can’t recall.   I’ve got a black hole in my brain that sucks names never to be revealed to me again.   Actually,  some of them return, 35 years too late.

    When I meet someone that I would like to remember I write the name down on a scrap of paper along with some information about that person, e.g. teacher, short, black hair, 3 kids, back of spin class.   This method is ok as long as I see that person on a regular basis, but if more than a couple of weeks goes by, I can no longer connect the info to a face.  I have to call out to the class, “any short, fat, teachers in here with three kids?”  Generally no one answers so I chuck that scrap of paper and try to meet someone new.

    I once dated a woman regularly for 8 or 9 months.  Then we drifted apart.  A few months later I saw her in a restaurant with friends.  They invited me to sit with them.  The panic started.  I could not remember her name.   I could not concentrate on the conversation as I was trying to recall the NAME.   Why would these idiots keep talking to her without once calling her by name?   I went to the restroom to search through my wallet for one of those little notes; nothing.   I left still unable to think of what to call her but, unknown female.  Now, of course, 35 years later it comes to me, Frances.  That was helpful.

   Another moniker blackout occured when I saw a woman I had worked with for several years, and had coffee with every day.  I spotted her in line at Cosco.  I slunk out to the parking lot with my memory tail between my legs to hide until she left the area.   Out in the lot I went through the alphabet; Ann, Amy, Alison, Barbara, Betty, Cara, Christine,…., Zumpelfist  in a futile attempt to revive the woman’s name.  Ziltch (no, not her name; the results of my search) .  Now, of course, it comes to me, Gloria.  That was helpful.

    A man I worked with for several years refused to believe I could not remember his name.  He wouldn’t tell me after I admitted I couldn’t remember.  In my mind I was telling him, “Oh, ya, now I remember, I always called you Moron Corn Nut eater.”  Goddamn noisey things.  His name was/is Tom.  What the hell?  Is there a conveyor belt of names.  You put a name on it and it rolls out of view in a few weeks to return 35 years later?  The product is useless by then.

   I put the image of the woman from the Cold post on the portrait page of my paintings site.   I gave her the name Sharon.  I don’t like the idea of having a series of portraits titled Unknown_1, Unknown_2,…, Unknown_n.

   Help me out here, name this child.

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25 Responses to Unknown ~ The Story Of A Man With A Memory Leak

  1. Doraz says:

    She looks like a Natasha, to me.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!
    Have fun blogging and remembering names!

  2. Rhonda says:

    Bill, your brain is full of painting facts and figures and potential paintings to come – you don’t have time for everyone’s name you ever met. Just let it go and pretend you are even more eccentric than you are – and start calling everyone Baby, Sweetie, Honey-Pie (for the females) – for the males, just call them Kid.
    BTW, she does look like a Natasha, good call, Doraz!

  3. Dar says:

    wow, natasha (if we’re all in agreement) looks wonderful.
    I say that name tags should be mandatory!

  4. Jala Pfaff says:

    She definitely looks like an Abigail.

    Great one.

    Next time you’re trying to remember a woman’s name, you could always do like Jerry on Seinfeld (“rhymes with part of the female anatomy…”).

  5. Just last week I was at a get-together and we were all introducing ourselves and one lady called herself by someone else’s name.
    Those of us who knew her name all just looked at her slack-jawed until she corrected herself… You see she had been concentrating so hard on trying to remember the name of the person she couldn’t think of that when it came to HER turn… she named that name!
    It was actually pretty funny.

    (guess you had to be there.)

    By the way… I know this is an art blog but your posts are always so funny I sometimes don’t remember to mention your art which is really quite wonderful!

  6. Nice portrait. Have you ever suffered any head trauma?

  7. lbtowers says:

    I really like this portrait Bill. I am going to call her Meg Ryan.

  8. wrjones says:

    Doraz – I like that name, thanks.

    Rhonda – my brain is full of something, but Mom used to call it other than painting facts.

    Dar – you carried the swing vote, Natasha it is. If I could remember who her mother was I would contact her to let her know.

    Marian – I bet it wasn’t funny to the lady who slipped up. She must be wondering what the devil happened.

    Bertha – Well, I’ve been turned down a lot, is that what you meant?

    A whole nation? That must have hurt. No wonder you don’t have time to paint.

    Thanks, Lisa. You can call her Meg if you like. She probably won’t answer since her name is Natasha.

  9. Barbara Pask says:

    You are not alone with this name thing, I think sometimes we worry so much that we won’t remember that we don’t. I think everyone should have to wear name tags all the time, lol. Could be a fashion statement. Love this portrait of the little girl, really excellent.

  10. Dawn says:

    Glad to know other people have that problem!
    Your painting is so good I thought it was a photo when I first looked at it!

  11. wrjones says:

    Barbara – thanks. Good idea with the name tags.

    Dawn – thank you. If you forget names, you are definitely not alone.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Natasha looks good. And I think, um, sharon was very nice too, even if the subject was a little cold.
    I am eagerly awaiting my present in the mail. I hope its signed so Ill never forget your name.

  13. Lori says:

    Its a lovely painting Bill, Natasha is a sweetheart. I can’t remember names either. Makes me wonder why we even have them, they just make trouble.

  14. ivdanu says:

    Bill, we are painters! we have visual memory and stuff… and then, what<s in a name? it’s just a label anyway, and I bet (my a…) you remeber every little rincle (?) on their faces…

    And even if we are visuals, you have a way with your words – almost as good as Mark Twain – «I slunk out to the parking lot with my memory tail between my legs»…man, that,s genius!

  15. 100swallows says:

    Funny as always, Bill. I agree with Danu and loved the “memory tail between your legs”–“genial!”, as we say in Spanish. Clap, clap!

  16. Nava says:

    Hmm… how about Lucy?

    Or Zumpelfist. It’s a gloriosu name, too.

  17. Susan says:

    She’s a Trudy. And you’re a goof ball. I’ll tell you my trick when you have to introduce somebody whose name you don’t remember – wait til they do it themselves. They’re more likely to remember each others names that way anyway. Meanwhile, smile and look pretty. You’re pretty. It works.

  18. wrjones says:

    Rebecca – I don’t think my name is Bob. However, I could be wrong on that; it does sound familiar. I did sign the painting and I think correctly as I copied the name off the driver’s license I found in my wallet.

    Lori – Thanks. You don’t have to remember my name, I won’t be hurt. Just make the check out to cash.

    Ivdanu – Wow, thank you. Compliments don’t get better than that.

    100swallows – Thanks. When that memory tail goes between the legs it doesn’t feel so humorous. Later, if you have escaped detection, it can give a chuckle.

    Nava – I don’t have fond memories of Zumplefist. She didn’t treat me right.

    Susan – Thanks, sort of (is this payback for the “cool, neat” fiasco? Here is my way of working that: “You two introduce yourselves, I’ve got to pee like a racehorse.”

  19. kimiam says:

    Bills, you are so funny. I like this painting, too.

  20. You did a great job with this portrait. I bet her nick-name would be Sunshine.

  21. wrjones says:

    Kimiam – Thanks.

    Preston – Thank you. Sunshine or maybe Sunflower.

  22. kevmoore says:

    Now look, you made me read all the way to the bottom, where I was going to very cleverly write sunflower. just for that, I’m going to call her grotbags. Lovely painting, Bill.

  23. gypsy-heart says:

    I like the portrait, but I don’t think she looks like a Sharon..she looks like a Samantha. :)

    Don’t worry about forgetting names..I do too. In fact, I forget who I am sometimes. :O

  24. wrjones says:

    Kev – So sorry. The general rule of thumb is if you see the by WR Jones you can stop reading there as everything following is nebulous whiffledust. Grotbags is quite an attractive name. Should I have another daughter I may go with it.

    Gypsy-heart – don’t worry, the rest of us remember you.

  25. I have a solution for this, but it hasn’t caught on yet. Tattoo children with their names on their foreheads in the year of their birth in a formula that everyone understands.
    Simply “Gloria” for instance. But later on, if she prefers to be called Ria, Sweetie, or Glore, you might be out of luck on the memory thing.
    Of course, if one has multiple names like one poor individual I knew who legally inherited the first names of all her grandmothers – Evangeline Katherine Gertrude Alice – and then had a double barreled, hyphenated last name, it might be a bit much.
    She was tagged Ocean when she was a babe and we never called her anything else. When she got to be thirteen she rebelled. She wouldn’t be called anything but Evangeline.
    The tattoo wouldn’t be much help then, would it?

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