Thursday, February 18, 2010

Social Graces and How I Have None

Here's a news flash for you: Sometimes I'm a bit socially awkward. Not incredibly socially awkward and not all the time; just a little bit and on occasion. I've gotten pretty good at covering up for my social awkwardness with self deprecating humor and gratuitous use of swear words. It's kind of a smoke and mirrors trick.

Okay, so I have the neighbor. Nelson used to refer to her as the Mean Lady because she has a stern look about her. But I've gotten to know her and she and I are friends of a sort and I've come to know that she's not at all mean; she actually very nice and her kids are nice and she's a good neighbor. I mean, she has two teenagers that are respectful and not obnoxious. That's some good parenting right there. So, I asked him to stop calling her the Mean Lady. Then Nelson started calling her the No Eyebrow Lady, and while this IS true, it seems kind of mean to me so I nixed that name too (I never let him have any fun.) Now we just call her Neighbor Lady.

You may be wondering why we don't just call Neighbor Lady by her name. That would be because we don't know her name. It's not like I've just forgotten her name. No, I never knew it. We just started chatting one day when I was walking Nora to school and she was walking her youngest son (she has three) to school and we never really formally introduced ourselves. This was two falls ago, when I was very pregnant with Miles. Her two older boys are in high school and are 18 months apart like my boys, so we were kindred spirits.

After Miles was born, she delivered two gigantic bunches of bananas, which are really good for breastfeeding moms (everyone, really) and then came by to meet the baby. She is so, so nice. When all the neighbors were digging each other over the past two weeks, she came over and gave me a big hug. Then, she told her older sons to help her dig out the vehicles of the older people on our block. It was on this occasion that Nelson heard our other neighbor address her as Miss Jeanie or Miss Jill, but he wasn't sure which because his particular neighbor has a very, very thick Jamaican accent, and even after living next door for nearly five years we still have trouble understanding him sometimes. (It's SUPER DUPER thick; his U.S. born children told me that even they can't understand him half the time either, and they've lived with him for 20+ years.)

So, what to do? I really want to know her name, but it has been way, way too long for me to ask. It's been like a year and a half. What's the protocol here folks? Is there anyway for me to get out of this situation without looking like a total moron? I'm really hoping someone can help me out with this social dilemma. (Becky? Anyone?)

(If you get to meet me at BlogHer this year? Get ready for all kinds of social gaffs and inappropriate jokes on my part. It's gonna be awesome. They shouldn't let me out of the house. I apologize to my roommate in advance.)

25 comments:

Strawberry said...

All you have to do is wait for her to leave and then check her mail :)

VandyJ said...

You could always ask her how she spells her name. Of course this approach back fired for Nick when he couldn't remember a friends girlfriend's name. When he asked how her name was spelled the friend yelled to her,"Hey Amy, how do you spell your name?" Nick was busted.
Or you could just suck it up and ask her.

Michele R said...

I was going to say the same thing as Strawberry above.
Or, beg your husband to be the "bad guy" and if you see her when you two are together, have him say, "I am so bad with names--please tell me yours again". Or have your husband say to one of the teenage sons, "I am so bad with names, pls tell me your mom's name again".
Do you see the theme I'm going with here?

Becky said...

Research the hell out of it. Ask other neighbors. Do a reverse city lookup on her address. Look at her mail. If nothing works, find a way to ask one of her sons, maybe the youngest. He won't know who you are and it won't seem weird to him.

Bananas, hmm.

Jamie said...

Um..it's not cool to call the neighbors by their made up names?

We have Mr & Mrs. Jones(whose sons are #1 & #2), Mr & Mrs Detail, Single Mom, Heidi Ho, The Renters, etc.

Kate said...

Use Maryland's Real Property Search:

http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/

Put in her address and it will give you the name of the homeowner, among other things.

If she's not the owner, I've got nothing.

Susanica said...

Maybe you could tell her that you think it might be a good idea if you had each other's contact information in case of emergency (locked out of house etc... probs). Then proceed to write your full name, number and e-mail and hand her a scrap of paper to do the same. I think that's what I'd do. -M

nutella said...

Kate and Becky suggested what I'd do. If taht doesn't get you her first name but you do have her phone number your could always crank call her and address her by a name that's similar but not quite right and see if she'll correct you.

Keely said...

Interwebby stalker! I'd second the reverse lookup etc. Otherwise, are there other neighbours who might know that you feel comfortable revealing your social awkwardness to?

Sprite's Keeper said...

Ooh, some good suggestions! Mine's illegal, so I'll refrain from adding my 2 cents.

Jenn said...

When I've forgotten someone's name or want to know it, I'll say, "By the way, I'm Jennifer." Usually, people understand this means, "Now it's your turn." And that's that. Everyone knows each other's name. Only works once, though, I guess. Have to actually REMEMBER the name after that. Children seem to have eaten that "remembering" part of my brain, though.
Good luck!

thebearandroo said...

Ooh. All good suggestions. I would say either the "look up online" or the exchanging emergency info.

Aliceson said...

I would get all sneaky and snoop in her mailbox. You could even make it look like the mailman goofed and gave you her mail by bringing up the piece of stolen mail right up to her front door. Unless of course you have those locked mailboxes, then you're screwed.

Veronica said...

I would do what Sunsanica said - exchange emergency contact info.

Mrsbear said...

I think you've got all your bases covered with the suggestions. I agree, it would be weird to ask at this late juncture. Just make sure you don't get busted rifling through her mailbox...whoops.

Pamela said...

sure. apologize to one blogher roomie, but not the other.

or wait... maybe you just forgot my name?

WarsawMommy said...

Ooooh. Awkward!

I really like Susanica's idea - because not only would you get her name, you'd actually get her contact info in case of emergencies (and she'd have yours). So win-win-win, all over the place!

gretchen said...

I'm afraid I have some experience with this. I seem to always know the names of all the neighbors children and dogs, but not the names of the neighbors themselves. Sad but true. And I've always gone with the mail bit. Just wander over when she's not around and root around her mail.

elizabeth said...

The "emergency contact" details are good.
I'd say no to the mailbox, because what if it's her formal name and she goes by her middle name or something...then how do you explain it?
My personal favorite is the "using your husband to get the name thing".

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I really like the idea of having your hubby be the 'bad guy' and finding out her name...I'd make my hubby do that! In fact, I did with our neighbor, whatshername... ;)

WooHoo! You're going to BlogHer and you're rooming with Steenky Bee? How FUN! I look forward to meeting you - and I'm so relieved that I won't be the only one with all kinds of social gaffs and inappropriate jokes on my part. ;)

Captain Dumbass said...

Get Oscar to ask.

Frogs in my formula said...

Bring her some bananas and an eyebrow pencil. She'll be so grateful she'll sing like a canary.

Casey said...

I was gonna say check her mail too. Oh, can you look on zillow.com or your county tax site to see who her house is registered to? Or google her address?

Stimey said...

I'm late on this and I haven't read the other comments, but have a friend who doesn't know your neighbor come over when she's bound to be out of the house. Then run into her and chat. Have your friend say, "Hi, I'm X. Jenni is so bad at introductions." Your neighbor will then say her name. And there you have it.

I have made Alex do this for me many times.

anymommy said...

I saw that you were going to NYC on Keely's blog. I so want to meet you! You do not have to know my name ;-)