Saturday, December 01, 2007

Give and Take.

Ring.

Ring.

Ri-

QUINN: Hello?

CONSORT: Hi, it’s me.

QUINN: Hi, you two still at the grocery store?

CONSORT: No. Long story short, we were going in and she saw her best friend from school and her dad, and the other girl has to stay out of the house all afternoon because they’re refinishing their floors-

QUINN: This is the short version?

CONSORT: Anyway, we’re taking the kids to the park.

QUINN: Oh, nice.

CONSORT: So, keep writing. I just have one question. What are their names?

QUINN: You mean Rachel?

CONSORT: Rachel, right. And her father?

QUINN: We had dinner with them last month. You two talked for an hour.

CONSORT: Right, him. What’s his name?

QUINN: Tom.

CONSORT: And the little sister?

QUINN: Ruby.

CONSORT: And-

QUINN: Jennifer. The mother’s name is Jennifer. If it comes up, their rat’s name is Hermione.

Because in my house, I keep the proper nouns. I know the name of the movie starring That Guy from That Show We Don’t Watch, I know the name of the neighbor Consort has talked to and I never have, I know the names of Daughter’s stuffed animals, which is no small feat, being as they change every eleven days or so. Consort can keep his mind of larger issues, because I remember names. What I don’t remember is faces. Correction: I remember nearly all the faces of actors of shows whom I will probably never meet, and can tell you every single time I’ve seen them on a television show, no matter how obscure. What I can’t do is remember certain peoples’ faces, no matter how many times I meet them. Sadly, they remember me:

QUINN: Hi, it’s nice to meet you.

COMPLETE STRANGER: Actually, Quinn, we’ve met before. Six times. We sat next to one another at a wedding and talked all evening.

QUINN: I’m so sorry, I just have the worst memory for faces.

I SWEAR, I’VE NEVER MET THIS PERSON BEFORE: Yes, I know. You’ve told me that the last three times we’ve met.

This is what could turn me into an agoraphobic. But if I stay home and never leave the house and never say something stupid to someone new who turns out to be someone I’ve shared a weekend house with, I’d have to listen to Consort tell me whose voice is on my television. In Consort, the part of the brain usually set aside for retaining names has been completely annexed by the auditory recognition sector. From no more than a single sentence in voice-over at the end of a commercial, Consort can recognize the actor. He’s insanely good at this, while I am bad at it and indifferent to being bad at it. What Consort keeps hoping will be a crackling volley of voice-identifying becomes nothing more than a tragic game of Solitaire:

TELEVISION: See your Los Angeles area Cadillac dealer now.

CONSORT: You have to know that one.

QUINN: No, I don’t.

CONSORT: Come on, it was easy.

QUINN: I don’t know.

CONSORT: I’ll give you a hint. She’s on that show.

QUINN: (SIGH)

QUINN: What show?

CONSORT: (SILENCE)

CONSORT: Oh, you know. That show about the White House and all those people were on it like that guy from the sitcom I never watched about the family.

[Owing to years of practice, I somehow know he means John Goodman.]

QUINN: That was Stockard Channing’s voice?

CONSORT (Delighted): YES! You can hear it now, right?

QUINN (Lying): Oh…yeah.

(Silence as a commercial plays.)

TELEVISION: Call your doctor about the little purple pill.

CONSORT: I know you know that one.

You see where I have to go out. But if I go out, I need a working car, and if I keep the nouns in my head, Consort keeps the car maintenance records in his. Yesterday, it rained for the first time this season. We who are tired of breathing smoke and despising arsonists are very grateful. Consort had gratitude, but Consort also had windshield wiper-replacements. He replaces them every winter. He does this because he loves me; I let him because I tried replacing the windshield-wipers once, in a fit of female empowerment, and the thought of it still makes me eat my own hair. I started to pull out of the garage yesterday, and Consort ran into the garage, waving a box at me. I stopped.

CONSORT: I need to replace the wipers.

QUINN: Sweetie, I’m running late. I’m sure it’s fine until tonight.

CONSORT: Pull out into the driveway and use the wipers in the rain.

(Quinn pulls out, hits wipers. Consort runs out and pokes his head in the passenger side of the car.)

CONSORT: Oh…no. Just come back into the garage for a second.

(Quinn pulls in. With a few deft moves, the windshield-wipers are off, and new ones are on. Consort gets into the passenger seat.)

CONSORT: Now, back into the rain again and then use the wipers.

(Quinn backs out, uses wipers. Consort relaxes.)

CONSORT: Much better, much safer. Isn’t it nice to be able to see without all that streaking?

QUINN: Why, sure!

Readers, please believe me when I say that nothing had changed. I moved the water around, he changed the blades, I moved the water around. The fine details of life escape me. If Consort is the princess whose sleep would be spoiled by a single pea, I am the peasant who can catch a good eight hours stretched out on a bed of sea anemones. But even we peasants appreciate a loving gesture, and we’re not unkind. So, yes, the new wipers made all the difference.

He got out and stood in the rain, smiling at my dazzlingly-wiped windows and I felt a surge of affection; he really is the kindest man, I thought. A public-service announcement came out of the car radio, suggesting we do something about Darfur. Feeling generous, I said to Consort, “That’s Paul Newman, right?”

He laughed in disbelief and said “That’s…the guy from the movie about the newscaster!”

“George Clooney?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh.”

We kissed goodbye, confident in the knowledge that the other person couldn’t survive without us.

6 Comments:

Blogger OHN said...

New wipers..and it is not even Christmas yet!

Consort sounds like he is cut from the same cloth as my husband. He has actually awakened me in the middle of the night to tell me that he remembered the name of someone he was asking about earlier in the evening. Yeah, that is way more important to me than sleeping.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

OMG. i SO am with you on this one. the Husband is almost on the same par as Consort, but you and i are out of the same cloth.

and i'll fake it too. which works, until he trys to test me, dammit.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Truly...that is a beautiful love story if I ever read one.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I have a similar affliction for not remembering faces but usually only under pressure. I was a waiter in a very busy restaurant in my youth and had arrived on my shift spying a woman in a group already sitting at a table. I knew this woman was a friend of my mothers, if only I could remember her name. I hid from her knowing she would recognize me first and I would be looking like an idiot trying to remember her name. Next my boss takes me aside and points in her direction asking me if I saw Jackie Onasis. Oh sure! (My mother did not know Jackie Onasis BTW)

2:35 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

very sweet. my aunt would say you and consort are

"opposite sides of the same penny."

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Mad Librarian said...

Not being able to recognize faces is called prosopagnosia. It's a neurological disorder, and I definitely have it! I have unintentionally insulted so many people by not remembering their faces, and changing jobs, which I did three times in five years, is just torture.
Anyway, when I meet someone now, I just say, "Sorry, I have a neurological disorder and I may not recognize you next time I see you, so just remind me who you are, okay?" Next time I meet them, they usually introduce themselves! It's made life a lot less embarrassing.

12:45 PM  

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