Well it's up and happened. You're staring at some dude whom you've definitely met before, and you're totally blanking on his name.
Not only is this embarrassing both you and your ancestors, but it's also a real missed opportunity. Knowing someone else's name generates a certain amount of goodwill with them. Think of how you react when someone remembers your name. You're happier, and now think more favorably about that person, don't you? At minimum, you'll be on slightly better behavior now that you know you're not anonymous. You check your fly, stop stealing forks -- that kind of thing.
So let's never let this happen again. Let's start remembering names right now! Starting with this guy!
You probably only touched a hot stove four or five times before remembering that it's a bad idea, and there's no reason you can't apply the same principle here. Repetition is one of the most reliable ways to memorize something. So the next time someone introduces themselves, repeat their name back to them.
"Robert. Robert. Robert."
To make it less creepy, add a "Welcome," or "Nice to meet you," or some other appropriate follow-up.
"Robert? Come with me if you want to live."
Doing this again at certain natural points in the conversation will help as well, but just be careful that you don't take it too far. You don't want to repeat their name to the point where they'll worry that you're going to write it in blood somewhere.
Though you should definitely do that! Obviously you'll want to keep this a secret, but this is a very memorable act, which will make it far easier to remember someone's name. And if you have any demons or familiars who accompany you on your travels, a blood rite like this can help them remember your new chum's name as well.
"It was T-something. Ted. Tred. Trandy. Trandy, I think."
If you want to avoid any risk of saying their name aloud like a crazy person, or just don't like speaking in general, you can try repeating the name quietly to yourself. A good opportunity for this is while this new person is talking about their stupid life.
"Blah blah blah blah cancer survivor blah."
The trick is to do this while still listening to them, just in case you need to respond to anything they're saying. This usually isn't too hard; because it's your first meeting with this person, there are only so many possible topics they could be talking about. Nine times out of ten, they'll be talking about their job or their weekend at the lake. If you need a quick response, try "Huh!" or "I hear that!" or "My cousin drowned there."
Does their name remind you of anything? Can you force it? Because if you can associate their name with some other, more memorable thing, you'll stand a much better chance of remembering it.
"You look a lot like an aunt I'm way too attracted to."
There are a lot of ways we can get this to work. Does their name rhyme with something? Can you make an acronym out of it? Or just take the first letter of their name and find a descriptive word that begins with the same? Gaseous Gary is harsh, but so long as you don't mention the first half of it when seeing that gassy fucker, you'll probably get away with it.
Name tags exist for a reason, so if you're in a position to make someone wear one, like if you're a manager or event planner or benevolent warlord, go for it!
This isn't quite the same as remembering, because you'll still forget this chump's name as soon as he leaves your sight. But that doesn't matter, because he is, as discussed, a chump, and now you've conserved valuable mental energy that you'll need to defeat your enemies.
Similar to but more permanent than name tags, but only really an option for non-benevolent warlords or C-level executives, searing the name of your underlings into their flesh will ensure you never have to worry about forgetting their names again.
Also they will never, ever, forget yours.
OK, again, this option is mainly for despots, and I'm sorry if that doesn't apply to you. But according to our web stats, at least 70 percent of all Cracked readers aspire to be a despot some day, which is why I'm cautiously presenting these tips to you here.
Humble advice servant that I am.
The trick to this is to simply give people new names, ones you do remember, ensuring that you'll never forget a name again. Admittedly, we're well past the stage where you'd even notice the conventional benefits of remembering someone's name, but you can be sure your subjects will feel a different, no less valid type of gratitude upon receiving a new handpicked name for themselves.
"Yes, sir. My parents should have named me Trashass in the first place."
In the same way that repeating a name helps you remember it, repeating a rename means you'll only have to memorize this once.
Soon, you shall all be Trashasses.
Be careful picking something too clever here. A joke name will be funny the first or second or 30th time you hear it, but it will eventually wear out its welcome. I'd suggest, master, that you consider something a little more mundane. "Barry," for example.
A Barry in the streets and a Barry in the sheets.
Now you'll never forget anyone's name again -- meaning no more memorization, awkward pauses, or writing names in blood.
You still will, though, for despot reasons. You've got work to do, after all.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist, and will respond to whatever you want to call him. The author of the science fiction novel Severance, his next novel, Freeze/Thaw, is available right now! Holy shit! Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
Learn how to deal with fast food chains Bucholz-style in Greatest Customer Feedback Ever Sent to McDonald's, and you might want to start saving for retirement now so that you never end up like the people in An Apology to the Residents of My Illegal Retirement Home.
Also follow us on Facebook, and maybe Bucholz will give you sage life advice directly.
We will continue to see one of the most common (and lamest) storytelling tropes for a long time.
Businesses still have no idea how to market themselves to women.
We're moving toward an entirely delivery-based economy ... but there may be some people you WON'T want knowing your address.
How exactly do you get gigs like these?