Life with Prosopagnosia – My Name is…

Santa empty eyes

“My name is Cristina,” I said.

I introduced myself to the man across a large cardboard bin at the thrift store, as we both dug through the pallet of books, adding, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”

“Of course you don’t,” he said, “I never gave it to you.”

I often tilt my head to one side or the other when I’m wondering, confused or trying to remember something. I paused in my search and looked at him carefully: Gray hair, probably in his late 60’s or early 70’s, white, the medium build of a life-long intellectual, a direct gaze.

He took in my appraisal for a moment, then said, “What made you think I gave you my name?”

“Your story,” I said. “As you talked, I recognized your story about your daughter’s highly successful Los Angeles restaurant and remembered that you are an artist who loves food.”

“Yes, my daughter says her restaurant is a place where beautiful young people go to sit on stools.” He paused again, this time, he tilted his head to his left while looking at me carefully. “You have some sort of aphasia,” he stated.

“Yes,” I said, a bit startled that he had noticed. “Prosopagnosia – face blindness.”

“So,” he said, “you had no idea who I was and who you were talking to?” 

“Well, not at first,” I said, “but I kept listening for your story and when you mentioned food, I remembered you and your story about your daughter, the chef and restauranteur.”

“I’ve always wanted a form of aphasia,” he said. “I’m jealous.”

“No you’re not,” I said. “You’re just a romantic. There is nothing fun about it. Most of the time it just gives me a lot of social anxiety and I have to be more trusting than is probably good for me.”

“So,” he said, “you didn’t really recognize me, not even my voice?”

“Your voice was familiar,” I said. “I thought I might have met you, so I just waited until you had said enough for me to remember that I really had met you.”

“Do you remember my body?” He said, moving his hand gently in the air from his chin to crotch in a delicate swipe.

“I could,” I said, “If I saw it more often.”

He looked surprised, tilting his head again to look at me carefully.

I rushed my words together to explain, “Then I would know you by your gesture and form.”

He considered that for a moment.

“So,” he said, “do you always know who it is you are having sex with?”

“Well, I said, “considering how my 20+ year marriage ended, I’d have to say, ‘No’.”

“My name is David,” he said.

Note: Life with Prosopagnosia, aka Face Blindness is a way for me to process what it is to have the condition and the wonky twist it gives many interactions in my life. Cristina Acosta.