Sunday, October 9, 2011

Name Tag

My daughter takes a dance class. Modern Dance. Sort of Mummenschanzy, but more princessy. Her teacher is named Karen, which happens to be my name. I am unclear as to whether she is supposed to be called "Ballerina Karen," "Dance Teacher Karen," or, the dreaded "Miss Karen." Apparently children's instructors in non-traditional teaching settings (such as "Toddler Tots" and "Kinder Musik") have not come to a consensus on what to be called by their students and families, because the use of "Miss"--or on those rare occasions that an "enrichment" program is led by a male, "Mister"--appears to be the awkward default. No, we are not in the South, so "Miss Daisy" or for those of you reared on 1980s TV, "Miss Ellie," doesn't seem quite right to a Northerner like me. Maybe they are trying to put the "South" in South-ern California. Personally, if adult females feel the need to conceal the fact that they have first names to children, I would hope they would opt for the Gloria Steinemesque "Ms." But that's just me.

Fortunately the name of my daughter's dance teacher was fairly easy to commit to memory, given that I have a working familiarity with the name. And of the parents (moms, duh) of the other three girls in the class, one is a dear friend whose name I long ago committed to memory. The other two moms similarly knew each other, so I didn't waste limited brain resources on learning their names, because, like my friend and me, the pair seemed to have signed up for the class together, perhaps hoping for a little one-on-one adult friend time while the children are left to pirouette.

In the second week of dance class, mom supervision had dwindled from four to three, because the nameless moms apparently live near each other and one of them took both girls to class. No problem, the three of us had a lovely 55 minutes of chat about parenting, travel and art. The fact that I had not encoded Mom #3's name into my brain (please, do not ask me to remember which region of the brain stores information) did not weigh on me heavily because at least this week my mom-name-identification average had improved from .500 to .667, since there was one fewer mom in the mix.

The next week, however, Mom #3 again brought both girls, establishing a carpooling pattern that worked for them, but left me in the lurch socially. As it became clear that I might not eyeball Mom #4 until the dance recital, the horror dawned on me that I knew details of Mom #3's family life, health history, and finances, but did not know her name. It was too late and too much information had been shared for a casual, "Uhhh, what did you say your name was?" And this intelligent and thoughtful woman, with whom I enjoyed sharing 55 minutes of sophisticated Mom Talk, added insult to injury by mentioning that she was going to enroll her daughter in the class for the entire year. Damn, I was going to enroll MY daughter in the class for the entire year. Another 30 or so weeks of anxiously scanning the recesses of my brain to see if her name comes to mind? Thirty weeks of hoping she shows up after class with a "Hello, My Name Is.." nametag on, as if she just came from an office-supply convention? Thirty weeks of hoping she starts to refer to herself in the third person, NBA-style? Its going to be a long year.


  1. Conversational solution: "Sometimes it bothers me when celebrities have the same name as me (for whatever reason you can think of for this strange condition). Like Karen Carpenter.

    "Let's see... who has your name. I guess (fade out)..."

    Hopefully she will jump in.

    Or you can just steal her purse to get a look at her I.D.

  2. Hi, Doug--That might work for you, since you have both Doug Henning and Doug E. Fresh to share your name... I'm a lot chunkier than Karen Carpenter, and can't sing at all... oooh, but there's Karen Valentine from Hollywood Squares and Room 222! I like this! Thanks! K:)