A Case of Mistaken Identity

February 2, 2015

My mother had the most remarkable memory for faces but she couldn’t put them together with the facts. I had the most remarkable memory for facts but I couldn’t put them together with faces.

We would go somewhere and she would see a face she recognized and told me where we met the person. I would then tell her everything about the person that we had ever talked about or that I knew about. We did this for years.

One day, we were coming out of a store and my mother recognized someone but we didn’t have time to share the details. She was such a charming person that she could call everyone dear, and they would feel flattered. It was her way of telling me she wanted me to fill in the details because she could only recognize the face but nothing else. I was never a charming person and I needed her to tell me where we had seen this woman because I could never get away with calling anyone dear.

On this day, it backfired on us. She and this woman talked like they had known each other for years and so, when this woman suggested we all stop off somewhere for lunch, we said yes.

It was a lovely lunch. In those days, Liberace wasn’t too well known and he played to lunch and dinner crowds in his most flamboyant outfits on a white piano. He was great and we were having a wonderful time listening to him and dining in this exclusive restaurant.

After our meal ended, we said goodbye and said that we were so glad we had run into her because it turned out to be such a wonderful day. As we were driving away, I turned to my mother and asked her who this woman was. She looked at me and said, “I have no idea; I thought you knew her.”

I said, “Mom, you know I never remember faces” and she said, “But, darling, you were talking to her as if you knew her.” I asked her if I had, even once, mentioned her name and, of course, my mother couldn’t remember me calling her by anything at all. All she could remember was that we were talking about Liberace and how spectacular he was and how glad she was that we had found this marvelous place for lunch.

A lot of years have come and gone since that day, but every time I think about it, I have to smile. I’ve always wondered if that woman was driving herself as crazy as we were, wondering who we were.

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