Sometimes the song in my head skips.

Years ago, I saw someone wearing one of those billboard T-shirts declaring, “I’ve lost my mood ring. I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

We all lose things. We become lost while driving. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Not all who wonder are lost either. But mix wandering and wondering and the chances of you and your car becoming lost are multiplied manifold.

We lose keys, sunglasses, cellphones, innocence, our way, minds, patience, sense of humor, marbles, coffee mugs, TV remotes, money, phone chargers, gloves, track of time and umbrellas. I lost a shoe in a mountainous pile of cow manure once. My mother declared it lost forever. Nothing was lost until Mom couldn’t find it.

Research done by a company that does research found that one in five Americans misplaces something important each week. The other four lie, claiming they hadn’t mislaid anything. The same research discovered the average American, a creature that doesn’t exist, spends three days a year looking for misplaced items.

What is the thing that is lost the most often? A name. Not your name. Someone else’s name. That’s a shame. Names are important. Even if someone dislikes his name, he responds when you call him. If you could remember the name of everyone you’ve met, you’d be elected president of this fine country in a landslide, even if that was all you could remember.

I’ll be sitting in a chair or standing without one, thinking important thoughts all the while, such as: Does my head come to a point that is too sharp to look good in a cowboy hat, whatever happened to all those treasures I once kept in Sucrets tins or where would I take my great grandfather for lunch if he came back from the dead? I was thinking Great Grandpa might enjoy a pizza place with a good thin crust and unlimited toppings. Right then, a fellow greeted me. He was too young to be my late great grandfather. The guy brought a smile, but no name. I shook his hand. I still couldn’t recollect his name.

That’s a lump in my life’s mashed potatoes. I’ll run into someone somewhere because that’s where I run into someone and I can’t remember his name. It’s so unfair, he’s more memorable than I am, yet he remembers my name and I don’t recall his.

I wanted a time machine at the tips of my fingers, so I could run the clock backwards with the snap of my fingers. That would give me more time to remember his ephemeral name. Instead, I was stuck with a deer-in-the-headlights look as the quest for a name did a fruitless full lap of my brain cells. I realized I needed to update my files.

Making a list of things to do helps a humble human remember. It helps me to remember to make a list of things to do, but it doesn’t help in remembering a name. I know, I’ve tried. It was No. 11 on my list of things to do. I wrote “remember everybody’s name” on my list. It didn’t help. If you are going to do this, move it into the top 10 on your list. I think making it No. 4 would be best.

Losing a name in the mist that enshrouds a mind isn’t a new problem. Eve likely forgot Adam’s name on occasion. It’s not a problem to be solved. It’s part of life, albeit an irritating part. We can improve – notice more and listen better – but the problem will never be resolved completely.

It happened again today. I saw someone I recognized, but couldn’t remember his name no matter how hard I tried. It was like sandpapering soup. I knew I knew it. I stopped trying. Many smart people have claimed that’s the secret. Stop trying to remember and you’ll remember. The problem with that approach is that I typically recall the name long after I’ve finished visiting with that nameless soul.

That wasn’t going to happen this time. I was keeping an eye on this guy until his name came to me. We had a nice talk. He was a good listener. Not once did he attempt to shift the conversation to himself. He was obviously a gentleman who measured his words.

I finally gave up. It was then that I remembered his name.

I wish my wife would tell me when she puts up a new full-length mirror in our home.

Al Batt is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist from rural Hartland, Minnesota. He can be reached at

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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