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What's in a name?

Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007, at 9:28 PM

Yesterday on the CBS Morning Show, they had a memory expert teaching the crowd how to remember names. As usual, I had pushed my favorite button on the remote ("pause"), so I missed most of it - which is too bad, because I need all the help I can get.

I've always been bad with names, but - like most things - it gets progressively worse with age.

When I was in high school, we had a sweet, dignified teacher who wore her hair in a thirties style, but she had the misfortune of having jowls like a bulldog. I lived in fear of calling her "Mrs. Bulldog."

Of course, having taught high school for 32 years should have given me plenty of opportunity to develop memory skills, but it doesn't seem to have done that. I was notorious for all the misnomers I gave the kids. Once I had one kid from any given family, all the rest of the siblings were hopelessly cast into that first name. They gave up trying to correct me and just went along with it.

The secretary in the office used to confer with the student worker when they got my absentee slips. They'd say, "Okay, who do you think Mrs. DeJournett means on this one? It says, 'Crystal Jones,' but she graduated last year."

Some communities are especially bad about naming kids alike - In my last school, we had two Terry Eftinks, two Jeff Eftinks, two Jason Harrises....etc... As if they're not hard enough to keep up with!

Over the years I came to develop an aversion for some names, like the "Jasons." This should have been a favorite name for me - "Jason and the Argonauts," you know. However, I had a cousin whose son Jason would push my just-walking son Todd down the stairs in their Seattle home. I came to associate the name "Jason" with evil.. And there was the year at school when I had six Jasons in my first hour mythology class... Dr. Seuss has a book called "Too Many Daves," and that's how I felt about Jasons. Each one had his own devious habits. On one, I had to stop class when he blew his nose. It sounded like a fog horn.

Absentee slips were a trial for me, for some reason. One day, I did what I knew I would do one day -- I filled out an absentee slip for a kid named Patrick Gilbert....only my mind did one of those little ridiculous skips -- and I put "Patrick Henry" instead.

Of course, the name game still plagues me in the newspaper business, as I never know what name I'll come up with in the cutlines for photos - or the stories, either. A first name will trigger an old memory, and without even knowing it, I'll put someone from the past into the story. I think the residents of Advance are beginning to get used to it. They must say, "Oh, there she goes again..." Good thing they know practically everyone in town....In a town this small, they don't really even need me to give them the names - They already know who they are.

I suspect that I may not be the only one with this problem. Question is - Anybody have a solution?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Sorry Ms. Madeline. No solution. I've tried Ginko Biloba with no success. My own dear sainted mother used to go down the whole line of children "Fred, George, Sarah, Martha, Tilley, Mark, darn it! Mary." The really bad one was when she called my brother Mark, Max. Max was the cat.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 2:03 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I tried Gingko Biloba several years ago, but I don't remember if it worked!! I probably forgot to take it.

Well Maddie I think as we Get older we forget names if we do not see that person very often, I am a retired postman and now I meet people at the store or on the street I know their address but not their name ,before I knew their name and address, sorry can't help.

-- Posted by rusty nail on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 4:44 PM

O! Maddie I forgot to ask if all your goats have names.

-- Posted by rusty nail on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 4:45 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
The only one that's important is Patsy, the goat I raised in the kitchen.

I wish I could tell ya how I can remember stuff. I just do. Although the older I get the better my forgetter gets.

-- Posted by scotswoman on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 5:32 PM

The solution is to just call 'em all "Sweetie." Works every time, perhaps not in the newspaper business, but face-to-face, works like a charm! Everybody's happy!

-- Posted by bringwine on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 7:26 PM

Bringwine is on to something. It reminds me of an article that once appeared in Madeline's new fav magazine, Psychology Today. It reported that if a waitress or waiter lightly touches a customer on the shoulder or arm they get measurably bigger tips. Probably also works to make them feel "special" with a term of endearment like "Sweetie" or "Honey," or ....

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 8:39 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I believe I'll die my hair pink and dress in purple. I'll be able to call anybody anything, and they'll just say, "Ooooh, what a sweet little lady!"

I do love "Psychology Today"! Fascinating studies! But on the touching business, you have to watch out these days, or you'll be up on sexual harassment charges! That's sad.

I said "touch" not grope! Actually, they said just brushing someone's shoulder will do the trick to increase tips.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 10:13 PM

It would increase MY tips! Of course, so would "supersizing' my wine order!

-- Posted by bringwine on Mon, Aug 20, 2007, at 11:10 PM

Hahahaha! Big difference between "touching" and "groping"!!

Good one, FJGuy!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 4:47 AM

Groping works.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 7:01 PM

I can just see it. Food servers around Stoddard County start to brush customers to get bigger tips, and if a customer says something they'll say -- "But I read about it on Madeline's blog, so it must be OK!"

-- Posted by FJGuy on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 7:40 PM

Hahaha! You guys are never predictable!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 8:55 PM

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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