“Hello, My Name Is _______.”
We’ve all seen ’em. Those red and white (usually) name tags that people proudly parade around in at conventions, reunions, seminars, or anyplace else where it’s imperative that everyone know everyone else’s name immediately so they can avoid the awkwardness of actually having to ask.
Well, I fucking hate ’em. With a red and white hot passion. Aside from the fact that they have the potential to damage fabric (if backed with adhesive) or actually ruin it (if the pin-on variety), I just have no respect for them. I have no patience for the immediacy they afford. No tolerance for the laziness they encourage. I have nothing but pure loathing for the chummy camaraderie that instantly arises when two chuckling strangers greet each other with, “Hello … Victoria!” and “Hello … Kathy with a K!” Or, in situations where the participants are a little rebellious, “Hello … Mud (oh, I get it! that’s good!)” and “Hello … King … whatzit … Kamayamaya?”
A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where name tags were passed around and we were instructed to print our names on them and affix them to our shirts. Everyone did as they were told. Everyone took great care to neatly print their names on the tag. It was like being in remedial kindergarten, except without the brainpower and naptime. (It was, after all, an acting workshop.) Everyone proudly placed their tags above their hearts. Everyone, of course, except the one girl who looked around in disbelief at the docile activity surrounding her, and, with raised eyebrow, muttered, “No way. This is so fucking gay.” (That girl, kids, was … Shanen Doherty*.)
At the end of the day, about eight hours later, one of the guys painstakingly removed the tag from his shirt and smoothed it onto the inside placket of his jacket, taking tender care to make sure it stayed in place.
“Why are you saving that?” I asked.
“So I’ll have it tomorrow!” he said, pressing the name tag to make sure it didn’t budge.
“You had it on all day today, though,” I said.
“I know,” he said, “but this is for tomorrow. How will we know each other’s names if we’re not wearing tags tomorrow?”
“Part of an actor’s job is to memorize lines,” I said. “Remembering names should be a snap compared to that. Shouldn’t it? Or, if you don’t remember, you can always, oh, I don’t know … ask.”
“Where’s your tag?” he said.
“It died,” I said.
“So. What’s your name?” he said.
“See? You can do it,” I said. “My name is Jodi.”
“Hi, Jodi!” he said. “But how will I know your name tomorrow if you’re not wearing the tag?”
“Believe me, you won’t have to worry about that,” I said. I took the balled-up workshop “literature” from my pocket and tossed it into the trashcan by the elevator.
As I got into the elevator, he said, “It was nice meeting you, Jodi!”
The doors closed before I could respond. Which was a good thing. Because already I’d forgotten his name.
* Not really. ‘Twas I.