Hello My Name Is…

I have a pathological inability to remember people’s names the first time I hear them.

It’s like my brain has installed a panic button that overwrites the spoken name with static, while the person is still speaking.

I have zero chance of hearing the name, let alone remembering.

if you are a horse, dog, cat, goldfish, lizard, turtle or hamster, I will never forget your name. if you are a horse, not only will I know your barn name, I’ll probably know your six-foot long registered name too. I’m cursed with a strictly human name memory  malfunction. Unless you introduce yourself like this:

With the exception of this name.  I would totally remember this one.
Then, I will totally remember.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it when I coo over Bug the Pug – I’ve only seen photos of him on Facebook – but can’t remember my newly born niece’s name, a FAMILY member, that I’ve met, held, and delightedly played with for six hours….yesterday.

I try the memory tricks: creating an association based on fascinatingly long ear lobes or a strange rhyme. This is a particularly bad idea, as I discovered, after addressing “Ginny” as “Voddy” because she had a red nose and I remembered just enough to get in trouble: her name was something alcoholic and off beat.

Because there really are people in the world named Vodka, right?

Sundays were a relief: I figure I’m in church, so people will be forced to forgive me. Sort of goes with the territory. I can explain as we introduce ourselves: “I have trouble with names. I may need to hear yours a few times before it sticks, but I won’t forget YOU.  Welcome to our church.”

This worked pretty well. Turns out people are slightly more indulgent after a sermon on cheek turning.

Here is how that stopped working for me, and may have made the pastor request I stop greeting people. Which then may have been followed by a suggestion to hide near the back pillar. Or not come back.

In the desperate hope that writing a name down would help me remember, I volunteered to work the Label Table near the entrance. I’m feeling intoxicated by the feelings of petty bureaucratic power (I’m in charge of Magic Markers! “Hello My Name Is” tags!) when a woman I’ve never seen walks up.

Gah! Mayday, Mayday! 

The woman waves off my attempt to helpfully slap a HELLO MY NAME IS…in front of her. Mildly worried, I give my “I’m terrible with names, but I will remember your very special self.” spiel.

The woman assures me I absolutely won’t forget her name. Too distinctive. Which not only  slams my panic button, I become completely deaf and unable to hear the next few sentences out of her mouth. But I do manage to laugh appropriately when she does. I assume we laughed at how absurd it would be for me to forget her name.

Whatever it was.

Oh God. (In church. So counting this as a prayer.) Unless her name is “Bug” we have a problem. Did she have a squashed nose? I can’t remember.

No Jane, NOOooooooooo
No Jane, NOOooooooooo…

After the service, she wanders over during the coffee hour. I elbow my memory for her name. It ignores me, completely clueless, and continues contemplating how Amazing Grace would sound if sung by Elvis Presley. Oh hey, what if Metallica performed it?

Wait. is her name Grace?

I’m not going to chance it. I politely invoke my pre-emptive: “I might forget your name, but never you”.

She laughs heartily, as though I’ve just told the best joke ever. EVer. It’s the first time my pre-emptive strike hasn’t worked. Susan? Jill? Tanessha? VODKA? Oh lord, it must be Ginny. What do I DO?

She stops laughing abruptly, and stares at my face.

“But we laughed about it, remember?”, she says, quite hurt.

Of course I remember laughing. I was covering up the fact I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

“I’m so sorry”, I say, miserably, “remind me, please?”

She looks at me for a long time, certain I’m messing with her.

Finally, she turns to toss her paper cup away, and says with utter disbelief and disgust,
“Jane. My name is Jane. NOW do you remember?”

Because I’m me, I think I’m off the hook. Why on earth should I be expected to remember THAT name above all others? It’s not like she’s named Jesus or anything. Shoot, why should her name be familiar…it’s so unfair to expect…uh…um…

If only John Jacob had come in with her! I would have remembered. I swear.
Right. That’s my name too…

The other Jane is making a bee-line for the pastor.

I mentally cross off church number six.

We live near Temple Beth Ami.  I wonder how hard it would be to convert?

More Fun with Horse Names

You don’t have to sit around with your friends, trying to one-up each other: Wait…wait…I got a good one…how about Checkered Smokestack’s Opalescence?

Check out the automatic Horse Name Generator at The Ultimate Horse Site.  Very fun.  You can add your own ideas to the form below the generator and help them come up with even more wacko names.  Not sure the horse industry needs the help.  They seem to be doing fine on their own.

But then you get one like this:  Wish Upon a Nicker…how cute is THAT?

Use the comments section below to let us know what your favorite horse name would be, or the goofiest one you ever heard!

Registered Names

A Short Course for Spouses:

The name on a horse’s registration papers usually gives you an immediate fact about the horse.  Think of it as an advertising label.  Both the possible hype, and the possible truth.

Knowing a Thoroughbred is named Rough Seas Ahead makes me guess there’s a strong likelihood she’s got War Admiral or Sea Biscuit somewhere in her lineage.  (She has both.)

I’ve already said I had the worst first horse a child could possibly ever have.  If my parents had had a clue about horses and registered names, she probably wouldn’t have been my first horse.

She was a straight legged, hammer headed, strong backed,  roaned out  Appaloosa (stereotypically not known for their affectionate nature) mare (add hormone fluctuations to crankiness) with a nice short ewe-neck set low on her shoulders.  She was built like a tank.

Perfect for the discipline she was bred for.

But they were city people.

Her full registered name?

Spitz ‘Em Out

Sired by:

Chews ‘Em Up

Otherwise known affectionately as “Chewy” on the Pro Bronc Riding circuit.  If my folks had known about the relative truth in advertising that goes with registered horse names (and the practice of unscrupulous horse dealers to sedate the horse right before you’re scheduled to show up), they might have investigated a little more closely.  But hey, the price was unbeatable!  Where are you going to find a deal like $300 for a pure bred horse with PAPERS.   And that’s with 90 days of training.  She was practically free.

Perfect for a 12 year old whose closest horse encounter was sitting stock still on a grumpy Shetland pony seven years ago.

Copyright © 2009. The Literary Horse. All rights reserved.

Barn Names

I’m a teenager and my friend Amy is starting to compete.  It’s her first show.  I look her up on the class listing so I know when to be there.  I run my finger down the rider list until I see her name, then trace across for time and location.

Rider Time Horse
Wilson, Amy 12-1pm Satan’s Flaming Trident

I’m horrified.  I thought she was riding Fatso!  Who the heck is Satan’s Flaming Trident?  Why is she riding another horse, AND WHY DIDN’T SHE TELL ME?  I’m miffed on Fatso’s behalf.  We groomed him to the teeth yesterday.  Did he come up lame?  Did she borrow a horse?  Did she buy one and forget to mention it?

Fatso’s stall is empty.  Using my impressive detective skills (hefty flake of alfalfa still in stall, no horse, missing trailer) I deduce he’s already rolling on his merry way.  Why take Fatso if she’s riding some other horse?

I’m stumped.

Maybe Satan’s whatever doesn’t trailer well, so Amy picked up Fatso on the way?  Possible.  Fatso radiates No Biggie.  “Duuuuuuude, like calm down man.  EAT.”

Fatso would load into a minivan to get the Cheerios your kid spilled on the car seat.  He was frequently farmed out to teach yearlings how to trailer.

I arrived.  Yup.  There was Fatso tied to the trailer, nodding off.  No Amy.  She must be walking the other horse around to get him used to the place.

Fatso could go to Vegas on the 4th of July and yawn.  Flashing lights? Huh.  Different. Shooting water fountains?  Thoughtful…I AM a little thirsty. Fireworks?  Could you tone it down?  I’m trying to get in the zone here.  Hey…those feathers on that lady…are they edible?  Do I smell pizza?

That pretty much sums up Fatso.  It’s why I love him.

Glumly, I go to the stands and wait for the class.  There’s Amy…and SHE’S ON FATSO!!  I want to stand up and cheer.  So what the heck was all that Satan’s burning sword thing?  A typo?  I got this upset over a misprint?  I need a life.

Amy and Fatso put in a respectable performance.  Nice.  Afterward I hug her, apparently a little too long.  “Hey!” she says.  “I wasn’t THAT good, but thanks!”

I relate my dumb ordeal over the misprint.  I feel SO stupid.  I can’t stop staring at my boots.  I finally look up, finishing with “I was SO ready to knock you upside the head for not sticking with Fatso!”

Amy is bright red and strangely puffed up.  She’s shaking from head to toe.  Is this some weird seizure?

She bursts out laughing.  She doubles over, crosses her legs and holds her stomach.  What?!  What is so funny? Between gasps and sentences that keep trailing off into hilarity, Amy manages to get out the fact that Fatso is Satan’s Flaming Trident.

“You don’t know about barn names?” she gasps.  “Of course I do,” I say, with as much dignity as I can muster.  I don’t have a clue.  Not the foggiest.

“His registered name is Satan’s Flaming Trident, but can you imagine?”

I could imagine.

“Hey, hand me Satan’s Flaming Trident’s halter, wouldya?”

How did I manage to be the only horse person on the planet who thought names like Fatso, Gumby, Dave, and Petunia were registered names?  At that point, I’d only had one horse with papers…registered name: Sptizem.  It made sense to me that most horses would have goofy names.  I mean, my horse might as well have been named Phlegm.

By this time we’re back at the trailer.   Fatso is tied up, his entire head wormed happily into the hay net.  Amy sighs.  “I’m gonna have to cut it off him again.”  He has one hoof cocked so it rests on a tire, and is leaning lazily on the wheel well.  This is a horse who wants a sofa.  This is not a horse you’d go around calling Satan, Flame, or Trident on a daily basis.  This is Fatso.

Barn Names.  Brilliant.

Copyright © 2009. The Literary Horse. All rights reserved.