The trouble with names

For the last several days in dreamland I’ve been working in a large, beautiful log cabin. Along with a group of cohorts — I can’t call them coworkers — we’ve been giving a series of presentations to a group of visitors.

Before my presentation this morning I went out into the audience to talk to a couple of people I had recently met. They were talking about their plans for next weekend, and invited me to join them on Saturday.

Just after this I turned around and saw that one of my cohorts had scribbled a large collection of new notes on my blackboard. Yes, a blackboard with chalk, not a whiteboard with markers. I would later think about this, and wonder if it was influenced by a Columbo episode I watched recently — the one about the architect who likes classical music and kills the millionaire cowboy who likes country-western music. The architect also teaches at a local college, and he and Columbo spent several minutes wiping off chalkboards during one scene.

So I walk up to this cohort who has written notes all over my chalkboards like a mad scientist. I read what he has written, and he asks, “What do you think?”

“It’s good,” I replied. “Really good. Do you want to present this?”

“Can I?”

“Sure, no problem,” I said, trying to remember something. “Just give me a minute and we’ll get started, I have to check on something else.”

So I walk over to a couple of other cohorts, two women who I’ve known for almost 30 years now. They were seated at a table on the side of the audience where they could see my presentation, but not take up any good seats. I asked one of the women, “Do you see that guy at the chalkboard?”


“What’s his name? For the life of me I can’t remember it.”

“Oh, that’s Andy.”


“Yes, Andy Brown.”

“Andy Brown,” I said to myself, trying to embed it in my memory. “Thanks, I appreciate it. Sometimes I can’t remember things here.”

Then the other women chimed in: “Don’t worry, I can’t remember a lot of things here either.”

I smiled, patted her on the shoulder, and thanked her as well. Then I walked back to the presentation area. “Hello everyone. Let’s get started. I was going to give a talk this morning, but my friend here, Andy Brown, has developed some ideas that are better than what I had to say, so he’s going to give this presentation this morning. Let’s welcome Andy.”

The people in the audience gave Andy a nice round of applause, and I looked over at the two women I had talked to, gave them a thumbs-up sign for the help, and then listened to Andy’s talk.