I’m sure this has happened to you: you go to a social occasion, bump into people, start cracking jokes, etc. etc. Days later, you keep bumping into them, and you keep giving them a nod of recognition.
You’re now .. umm .. “friends,” at which point you realize… that you have no clue about his name. (We’ll get to the “her” parts later.) Either you haven’t asked, or you have just plain forgotten. But now it’s too late already, it’d be rude to ask him his name now.
How has this affected me in the past: 1. The Nameless Friend addresses you by name, at which point you realize it’s not a two-way problem, and a deep guilt starts building up, and you return a … “Hey…. you.” After this, he knows you do not know his name, and makes sure to use your name even more often to make sure you feel the guilt even more. 2. There’s a possibility that the Nameless Friend doesn’t know your name too: this is an ideal situation, although every time you meet there’s this awkward, “Hey” that both of us would prefer to avoid, but social etiquette demanding that we go on with it. 3. The worst is: You need to address him, and he’s not looking at you. “Hey, move out of the way of that car.. hey, … you.”
Being in grad school at UPenn, you’ve got a whole lot of classmates. Really, I’m not used to so many people at one go. My brain just doesn’t have enough gigabytes to register so many faces, and so many names. Of the hundred names that I had heard in the first few days, less than five might have actually registered.
The invention of the elevator has brought with it lots of potential awkwardness. Being on the 21st floor doesn’t help: probability of bumping into people are higher. It’s hard to avoid your Nameless Friends — and sadly for them — they can’t avoid you. And among the others: you begin to hate those single-serving friends who take it their duty to comment on, “Oh, you live on the 21st floor? You must have a great view from there!”
Pretty girl moves in next door. The Damsel in Distress calls me for help with setting up her ethernet. The brave hero that I am, I puff up my chest and say, “Don’t worry, I’ll use my PennKey to activate your ethernet.” (Heh, the networking setup at UPenn absolutely sucks.) She also can’t access the wireless without a PennKey. “Don’t worry, you can use my PennKey whenever you want.” Some chats later, we say goodbyes. Now my question is: exactly what would have been the correct time for me to have asked her her name? She’s now my Nameless Girl Next Door. Oh, and I’m her Nameless Guy Next Door.