Sunday, April 8th 2012
The Endless Identity Crisis

I hope your Easter was as lovely as mine. i really do. I spent the whole day with my sweet mother and by the time Amazing Race came on, I was painted three different colors, head to toe, and she had not a drop on her. Even though she’d painted just as much as I had. I’m messy.

Today started out VERY early with my yelling from the bathroom, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT JESUS DID FOR YOU? HE DIED AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD. AND ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SIT NEXT TO YOUR BROTHER FOR A FEW MINUTES WITHOUT KICKING HIM.”

And then I woke up the rest of the way and made breakfast and was fine. But GEEZ the trivial conflicts started early today. After my mom arrived, we hid eggs and went to church. Where I managed to completely get two people’s identities WAY wrong and in such a way that they KNEW it and then I had to try to apologize my way out of that. twice. And I cried all over a suede dress because, well, it’s Jesus. And Easter. Not because of the people I got all confused about. (Yes. It really was cold enough for suede this morning. Ugh.)

It’s not that I don’t CARE who people are enough to remember their names. I’m very good with names. And voices. But faces…? Not so much. I don’t know how long I have to stare at someone’s face before I really know it. But it’s a long time. When I met and stared at Mysti’s sweet face for 4 hours while we ate tacos and laughed and talked recently… I thought for sure I’d know her face if I saw it again. I mean, FOUR hours?  But i wouldn’t know Mysti if she passed me at Target. (Sorry Mysti. I really wouldn’t. WHAT IS WITH THAT?)

It’s nothing new. Five years ago my mom and I were sitting in the Albuquerque airport and she handed me a magazine article about people like that. Facial Blindness. Or Face Recognition Disorder or something like that. And I handed it back to her and told her how reading that was the first time I realized everyone else wasn’t just like me in that way, too. Epiphany. Right there in Albuquerque. So. I know I’m like this. It just bothered me more today, because i usually keep to myself so much better and it doesn’t really ‘show.’

I think the moment it bothered me the most was when a lovely woman at church said hello and I introduced her to my mother. As “Stephanie.” And?  She said, “Oh. Yes. But actually I”M NOT STEPHANIE. I’m ______”  She was VERY kind about it.

My mom asked later if the two women looked alike. And I was all, “WHY ASK ME? I HAVE NO IDEA. I THINK THEY”RE BOTH REALLY PRETTY BRUNETTES BUT WHO KNOWS GAAAAAAHHHHH?!”

One of the reasons I decided instantly, 16 years ago, that of course I liked Mike very much was his chin. (SHUT UP. I was… 20? I married a man only PARTLY because of his chin. Not ENTIRELY. That would be silly.)

Mike’s chin is unlike ANY other man’s chin. It has a very deep chin dimple thing in it. I remember thinking, “Aha! I would know that man anywhere.” And that was it. I could bypass the hours and hours of studying his face in order to get it into my head and just check the chin. That was immensely convenient.  Comforting, even. Appealing, definitely. It was as good as a name tag.

When in life is there actually time to study someone’s face for all those hours I need in order to recognize someone? There isn’t. You meet someone at church or somewhere else and say hi and maybe talk for a few minutes, and that’s enough for most people to recognize them again in the future, and it will NEVER be enough for me.

Instead, there are mental lists for people. A very good friend of mine is almost 6 feet tall, gorgeous, long blonde hair, and i know how she usually dresses and what her purse looks like. The first ten times or so we met for coffee, that was the mental checklist for picking her out in a coffee shop. (most people don’t need a checklist for picking out a gorgeous 6 foot blonde in a coffee shop. I know. And that right there is my problem.) AFTER those first 10 coffees, I knew her face. Today, I’d recognize her anywhere.

I know her husband. But I’ve never stared at his face for that many hours and I wouldn’t necessarily recognize him if I ran into him somewhere I wasn’t already expecting him to be, unless I heard his voice.

As you can imagine, I just don’t know that many faces. most people are ‘mental checklist’ people – not ‘i know that face’ people. I’m good with that. But right now people at church are waaaaay friendlier than I’d like and I’m suddenly very aware that few of them are actually  the people I THINK they are and that’s just so disconcerting.  The last church I went to was small. I knew everyone. I knew their faces. We were all mostly the same sweet people every week for ten years. That’s completely impossible at this church.

I’d like name tags.

If you don’t have a one of a kind chin, then by all means, slap on a name tag. Or ignore me! hey, let’s just do that.

 

 

 

 

~hm

7 Comments on “The Endless Identity Crisis”

1
michele
April 9th, 2012
6:56 am

Kelsey, there’s gotta be something you can do about this! I mean, this is really a big deal. I can totally see how it’s effected so many little facets of your social life. IT’S NO WONDER you don’t become madame social butterfly when you walk out into public. If every single person was wearing a sack over their head it couldn’t be much more confusing.
I think if I were you, I would go ahead and tell several of these faceless people that I knew best that I had facial blindness and yes it’s real. Ask them to be understanding and maybe help explain it to others. Tell them you LOVE name tags or something. I know you don’t want to trouble people, but this is debilitating. You don’t think so because you’ve managed to cope by becoming a public hermit or something. You’re there but you’re completely to yourself with no intermingling going on.
I kind of relate on some small level because I have car blindness. But there are a lot of ways I cope with that. I memorize dents and license plates. If that fails I look for familiar car seats inside. It also helps to remember where you parked so you can narrow it down. You can’t exactly do that with people.

2
Jan
April 9th, 2012
9:19 am

Oliver Sacks wrote about facial recognition disorder. You might find it interesting. I can’t remember the name of the book, unfortunately. My problem is that although I may recognize the face, I can not remember the name until I have met the person several times.
Jan recently posted..Kindle Touch–Product Review

3
Mysti
April 9th, 2012
12:28 pm

Don’t worry Kelsey – I don’t go to Target that often ;-)

But if I happen to run into you at the grocery store, I promise I”ll introduce myself. “Hi. I’m Mysti. We had tacos for 4 hours once. And a big a** bloody mary.” Will that be enough words for you to recognize my voice?

4
Jan
April 9th, 2012
4:36 pm

Try focusing on hands. I always notice people’s hands. Once dated an identical twin, whose brother tried to fool me one day. I knew immediately which brother it was, because their hands were different.
Jan recently posted..Kindle Touch–Product Review

5
Geekwif
April 9th, 2012
8:43 pm

How is it that some people are able to paint without making a mess? I gave up even trying to paint neatly a long time ago. I just accept that fact that when I paint it will end up all over me from head to toe and all over the floor (drop cloths are my friends).

As for remembering faces, I recognize faces immediately if I’ve ever seen them before in my life, but I can never remember why I know them. My solution is just to smile and let them talk first, hoping that they’ll say something to jog my memory.
Geekwif recently posted..Three Inches Of Snow – And I’m Okay With That

6
Kelsey
April 10th, 2012
11:11 am

michele.

oh…. michele. you are so sweet to me. and my new favorite phrase is “public hermit.” LOVE IT. I embrace that, fully. i have no interest in explaining any of it. i guess i’d rather people think i’m a snot or worse whenever i fail to recognize/ acknowledge them. no need to defend or explain. the important thing is i’m not nearly as nasty as i may appear. HA! Right?! (okay. maybe I SHOULD care. it’s usually hard to be bothered though.) my mom suggested handing out a business type card that explains. And i was all, “WHAT? AND THEN ASK THEM TO BUY A BALLPOINT PEN, TOO?” which was tacky. very tacky of me.

i do not understand the car blindness thing, fully. please enlighten! there’s a chance that was me, too. a giant shiny silver cattle guard thing cured it, though. you might try it. before mine i was always trying to get into the wrong car and it embarrassed the kids a LOT. caden still cringes about the time i tried to put the groceries into two different white suvs (neither of them the same brand as mine) before finding the right one. he was mortified. i laughed until i cried, because his reaction was so funny.

jan,
i’ll look him up! thanks! you remembered his name beautifully! : )

Mysti,
THANK YOU!!! that would be perfect. SO considerate!

geekwif,
you too!!! i like the messiness, except when i accidentally paint gray streaks in my hair! (that was week before last)

you recognize EVERYONE you’ve ever seen. that’s awesome. my mom is like that. i can only imagine the different set of problems that could bring, but OH it kinda sounds good to me right now! i’d love to try on that ‘problem!’

7
Michele
April 10th, 2012
7:33 pm

Hey, I just had an idea for you. Does this church have a photo directory? Maybe you could peruse it while sipping coffee on Saturdays (for ten minutes to an hour) and get a better name/face connection going on.

Car blindness is exactly what you described. I try to get into the wrong white car over and over in parking lots. But I know that stems from just not caring about cars enough and you already said that wasn’t your problem with people.

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