A long while back, I was at a sort of industry event that, if memory serves, Entertainment Tonight was putting on. During the course of the evening, a woman came over to talk, and -- being polite -- I put out my hand and introduced myself. She gave me an odd look and then said, "Yes, I know. We met yesterday."
And so we had. I'd been called in for a job, and met with the staff, and she was...er, the executive VP who ran the meeting.
I wasn't totally shocked by it all, though. This sort of thing happens to me. In fact, it's why I so quickly reached out to introduce myself. I'm absolutely great with remembering the tiniest details from the distant past (even if I wasn't present, but the person told me), but I'm lousy with faces. And I've always figured that most people are. When people recognize me from a few years earlier, let alone just months before, I'm always very impressed.
Then, a couple of years ago, during the course of conversation, a friend of mine offhandedly mentioned a condition called "face blindness." Something I'd never heard of. There are different levels -- she said she has a mild case. When she first starting dating the man she eventually married, she said that she didn't immediately recognize him at first on their initial three dates. She said that, apparently, Brad Pitt has a bad case of it.
And suddenly, so much of my own past became clear. I've never had it tested or talked to anyone about it, so it's possible that I'm just incompetent in recognizing faces, but I suspect not. It's just been too pervasive all my life. I'm not "blind" with it, and I do a passable job recognizing people. But I know it's always been something I've had trouble with and often try to prepare if I know I'm going somewhere with people I only slightly know. (I've even been known to as surreptitiously as possible write down names when I'm at a big gathering of people.) And it certainly explains why I'm so impressed with others when they remember me.
Anyway, to confirm that it is an actually-real condition...60 Minutes has a report on face blindness tonight. It airs at 8 PM in Los Angeles -- an odd time for the show, since it's usually on at 7 PM, but they have back-to-back episodes tonight. Alas, I suspect it won't get as big a viewing audience as usual, since there happens to be some other program on at the same time around most of the country, having to do with movies and awards, I'm told. Though that's why God invented the DVR.
Also, there's something whimsical about people not seeing a report on face blindness. I sort of know how they feel...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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