What’s in a name?

Randy, Joe, Mary Sue… What is your name again?

A reader asked an expert the following question: “I sometimes call my children by other family members’ names. Is this normal?”

The expert replied that this is normal. He told the worried person to relax. Many of us mix up names occasionally, especially with the names we use most often. I have done it numerous times. I am not proud of that, but at least I can stop fretting that I am losing my marbles. I only have 2 children and yet I call Adam Daphne and vice versa. I have even called them by my niece’s name. Now, when I get the names confused, I just say, “Whoever you are” and point. I have done this with coworkers, too. But, if I do this and have only two children, how did my friend with 11 children do? She confessed that she mixed names, too. I can understand that.

But at least I haven’t made the serious faux pas of calling my lover by another guy’s name. The only reason that has not happened is the fact that I don’t have a lover! What I have is two adult children, 2 grandchildren, and my daughter’s pesky Chihuahua! I don’t recommend that you make this mistake if you have a spouse/lover. It doesn’t end well. A week or so ago, my son slipped and called his girlfriend by his ex-wife’s name. OUCH! She was steaming mad and left my house in haste, (Which was okay since I think she is here way too much. When she’s here I cannot lounge around in my baggy nightgown. Kind of white trashy, I know. But so comfortable. At least I don’t go out in public in a muumuu with rollers in my hair. I leave that to Wal-Mart shoppers.) leaving not only my son, but my 2 grandchildren hanging. My grandchildren came to ask me why she got so mad. My granddaughter said, “He just made a mistake. Why would she leave?” Ah, the innocence of youth. It took the girlfriend 3 days to get over it. (Which meant more nightgown time. Hurray!)

But here is the theory of how people goof up names. According to neurologist Richard Isaacson who is the director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital the mind is like a library. People close to us, such as family members, are grouped together for ease of retrieval. Sometimes we inadvertently grab the wrong name.

Neurologist Liana Apostolova of the Indiana University School of Medicine says age is also a factor. It seems to me that age has a lot to do with just about everything, including a lot of the unpleasant effects of going over the hill. Anyway​, she says that our brain cells are connected with pipe-like structures. As we age the “pipes” can clog a bit. Retrieving information, like people’s’ names, for example, slows down when a person is tired, stressed, sleep deprived, and or multitasking. I am all of those things. I am not old!!

Her advice: “Slow down and take care of yourself. A relaxed brain works better.” I think I will stick with pointing and saying, “Hey you!” to avoid any embarrassment.

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