Say you meet someone you’ve spoken with before and this someone has already told you their name, but SHIT! you don’t have the slightest clue what their name is and you don’t want them to know that you’ve forgotten their name. What do you do?
I’ve been to so many parties with so many new people that I find it fair for me to not remember a couple of them. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. The world works like this: I understand if you forget others’ names but don’t you dare forget mine.
Which means, nobody gives a shit if you don’t remember other people’s names as long as you remember theirs. But with my lack of memory space in my pre-frontal cortex (futile attempt at sounding smart), I tend to forget more people’s names than I remember them especially when every party I attend has at least 20 people I do not know.
Over time, I’ve developed a trick of my own to not get caught having forgotten people’s names and you can use this trick too. It always works in Japan where people tend to have nicknames. When I revealed this trick to a few Japanese girls recently, they were so impressed, they literally clapped for me at the company cafeteria, because I don’t even need to ask others for the person’s name I forgot. I ask the person themselves directly without them having the slightest clue I forgot their name.
Are you ready for the secret?
Say you forgot this girl’s name is 朋子 (Tomoko). Ask her, “いつも何って呼ばれます？ (What are you usually called?)” If you’re lucky, they don’t suspect and tell you their nickname this time, go ahead and start calling them by their nickname.
Unfortunately, the usual reaction is that they would correctly assume you forgot their name even though there are occasional aberrations. But it doesn’t matter what they think because using my technique, they would soon feel ashamed for “wrongly accusing” you.
If they say, “朋子だよ (I’m Tomoko),” even with a look of being upset, you’ve achieved your goal. Here, you follow up with, “違う、違う。それは分かるけど、あだ名とかないの？「ともちゃん」とか「ともちん」とか (No, no. I know that. I mean, do you have like a nickname like Tomo-chan or Tomo-chin or something.)” They’d almost 100% glow with a mix of joy that you didn’t forget their name and turn red with embarrassment at the “misunderstanding.”
But what if they already introduced their nicknames to you? All the better! If instead, they say, “ともちゃんだよ (I’m Tomo-chan),” and at this point you realise they’ve told you both their real names and nicknames, you can go, “あ、本名で呼ばれないんだ (Ah, so nobody calls you by your real name).”
* If you would like to share this with your Japanese buddies to help them out, I’ll write a simpler Japanese entry