I’m bad with faces. For the last four years, I lived in a leafy suburb where I would see mothers, fathers, and children at school or around town, and I just could not remember if I’d met them before, or if I could actually remember meeting them, I would generally not know their name, or if I actually remembered their name, I had no idea (in the case of parents) who their kids might be. I found this to be a bit of a social liability.
We’ve just moved to a slightly less leafy suburb, and I’m determined not to repeat this mistake. I do not want to be rolling the dice on whether to say “nice to meet you” or “nice to see you again,” for example. Or to not know that their son was at my house 12 times for playdates, that my kid went to their kid’s birthday party, or that, in fact, we’d had their whole family over for dinner.
An even more compelling motivation for remembering people is that I’ve just started a new job, and there are lots of people there. Not only do I need to remember names and faces, but I need to remember what it is that people do, and how they fit into the organizational picture. In other words, is this person in the elevator someone whose ass I need to kiss, or not?
So I’ve been trying really hard to remember people’s faces, and to connect those faces with names.
As I’m doing this, I’m finding something really interesting (at least to me) about how this problem arises in the first place. I see that I’m much more able to remember someone if I bring myself fully into the encounter — to really meet someone’s eye. I find it sort of scary to do that. Bottom line is, I’m uncomfortable looking for more than a moment into the face of someone I do not know. I hide. I do not want to be seen. Yet I’m practicing trying to pull myself back, because I want to remember. And I want to show up this time.
And I find that as I do this — as I open myself to a stranger, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, without hiding — I can get flooded with sexual thoughts. It’s like we’ve both briefly taken off our clothes and are letting the energy flow between us. And I realized that it’s always been like that for me. Anyone who’s even remotely friendly, I want to sleep with them. Generally that means women, but it’s happened on occasion with men as well. My life would probably be much messier if the feeling was ever mutual.
What I experience is not sexual in the sense I’m used to. I’m not checking out her body, or letting my eyes caress her full lips, or imagining my hand running up her thigh — nothing like that. It’s just like a little door opening, and it’s hot inside.
I don’t mind that this happens. It’s just something that I noticed, and I suspect that as I continue to “show up,” that this will continue happening. It’s not like I need to do anything about it, although I suppose that I need to watch out that I don’t go too far with it. I don’t want to be known at work as the guy with the boner.