Ogden Nash





The Case of Identity

Some people achieve temporary fame
Because they never forget the face but never remember the name,
and others set a dizzy pace
By never missing a name but never recognizing a face,
And still others are sharpshooters for both names and faces and can at at
        glance fasten them to their proprietors in their proper positions.
And you want to look out for people with these charming social gift
        because they are either salesmen or politicians,
And finally there is a fourth unfortunate class of people who are con-
        stantly so embarrassed that they wish they could be swallowed up
        by a dozen Atlantics or Pacifics.
Because to their stigmatic eyes and wandering minds, faces are but a
        bouillabaisse of features, and names but an omelet of hieroglyphics.
And if you too, dear reader, belong to this unhappy group,
I fear your life contains more woe is me than boop-boop-a-doop.
People come up to you and say You don’t remember me, do you, and of
        course you say you do, and of course, you don’t,
And the first two or three times it happens you think maybe they will
        eventually identify themselves but finally you get to know that they
        consistently won’t,
And then when you walk along the street you are never off the horns of
        a dilemma,
Because you are always seeing somebody that you think you know but
        you can’t quite rememma,
And if you don’t speak to them they invariably turn out to have been
        somebody you like or somebody you like’s wife,
And they get very angry and tell everybody you aren’t speaking to your
        old friends any more and they are off you for life,
And if you do speak to them, of the nearest policeman you are in danger
Because they invariably turn out to be a suspicious feminine stranger.
Then if you ever do happen to get a name by heart
It generally belongs to some single lady who immediately gets married
         or some married lady who immediately resumes her single name and
         you have to go back and make a fresh start.
And another thing you have to get used to
Is introducing people to people when you can’t remember either the name
         of the people who are to be introduced, or the people they are
         supposed to be introduced to,
And I wish all the people who are good at names or faces or both would
         retire to St. Helena or Elba or Taos,
And leave the rest of us to live quietly in cozy anonymous chaos.