"You Remember Me, Don't You?"

   Well, it's Back To School time for students, and during this special time, there are many recurring questions that can be heard echoing from the streets and buildings of Boston's Back Bay.

   There's the ever popular "What's Your Major?", which is usually followed by the only slightly less popular "So, Where Are You From?"  These are most likely to be called from herds of over-excited, I'm-Genuinely-Excited-To-Meet-You Freshmen.

   For everyone else it's usually "How Was Your Summer?" and "So, Where Are You Living?" which is either followed by congratulatory or sympathetic sentiments.

   If you live in Danielsen Hall, you may also hear questions like "Why Is My Carpet So Ugly?"  "Why Is My Bathroom In My Hallway?"  and "Why Did My Windowshade Attack My Roommate?"  These questions are most likely coming from my room.

   While all these questions are commonly heard, none of them carry the same sense of overwhelming dread (although the Danielsen phrases can come pretty close) as the question, "You Remember Me, Don't You?"

   This phrase has several frightening effects on the addressee, which I like to call The Three Points Of Conversational Terror:

   1). It Puts You On The Spot - When someone utters this question, they may as well whip out one of those industrial strength police interrogation-style desklamps and shine it into your eyes as you search your muddled memories for a glimmer of the person's face.  

   2). It Brings A Mix Of Emotions - An unfortunate mix of emotions, that is, especially if you don't remember who your interrogator actually is.  First, you become embarrassed because your faulty memory has been put on display for all the world to see.  This embarrassment rises exponentially with each additional person who can hear the conversation.  Next, you are shamed, because this person recognized you, and you couldn't even be bothered to remember him or her, you terrible, terrible person.  I call this mix of emotions "Embarrashame."  

   3). It Causes An Immediate Awkward Pause - Conversation is a delicate art, filled with subtle nuances and mannerisms.  The Awkward Pause that usually follows this question has the subtlety and grace of Rosie O'Donnell in neon spandex (i.e. none), and almost guarantees the destruction of any hopes for a decent conversation.

   This weekend, I became the unfortunate target of this unholiest of questions.  I arose from the Kenmore T stop to be greeted by a moderately sized group of people.  I knew some of them, but most of the faces I saw were completely unfamiliar to me.  One of those unfamiliar faces approached me and uttered, "You remember me, don't you?"

   After the girl hugged me, I squinted my eyes and tilted my head from side to side, hoping that a blurry, slanty image of her would make her features instantly recognizable.  It didn't work.  So, instead of pretending I knew who she was, I tried to tactfully admit that I did not remember who she was.

   "Sorry," I said regretfully, "I don't remember you."  I get right to the point.

   "Oh, yes you do," she replied, for she clearly had better access to my memories than I did.  "You probably just don't remember because you were really drunk."

   Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts.  We may be experiencing some turbulence.

   "I think you might have the wrong person.  I -"

   "Oh, are you Straight Edge now?"

   "No, I just -"

   "Well, that's fine.  Your name's Harry, right?"

   The masks dropping from your overhead compartments will allow you to breathe despite the sudden change in cabin pressure.  Please help those near you if they need assistance, and let's have a moment of silence for whoever just got sucked out the emergency exit.

   "Well, no, actually my name is Casey, and -"

   "Oh, sure you remember me.  We met at that frat party last year and ..."

   Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you've all had good lives, because our wings just fell off.

   And so, the embarrashame fell away as I realized that neither one of us actually knew who the other was.  I grabbed my conversational parachute.  "Well, it's getting late," I said, not even making an effort to look at my watchless arm.  "I should probably be getting home."

   And with that, I was floating gently down Beacon Street, preparing to touchdown on my nasty green carpet.