So what’s in a name? Nothing really, it doesn’t say anything about who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or what you can do as a person. It is, in many ways, just an arbitrary label that means nothing, unless you happen to be from one of those random island cultures where everyone’s name is actually the story of their life and goes on for days. Hell, my real name isn’t even Charlie. You might as well call me “He-who-travels-the-world-playing-music-drinking-partying-high-banging-exotic-women-and-hating-hipsters-fat-people-etc.”
So there’s nothing intrinsically important in a name except that many many people really care about their name. That’s why if you want to get along with people it is a very good skill to be able to remember people’s names and call them by name often. So when you’re you’re in Russia, and you’ve already met four other Olgas at the bar but to Olga #5 her name is as special and as beautiful as she is, and she’s a pretty smoking hot 6 foot tall blonde. So treat her name like it’s important and she will feel special and she will make you feel special. Names matter to people.
It’s so easy when you meet people for their name to go right in one ear and out the other. This is bad form. I often had this problem often so I developed a system remembering new names:
1. Ask their name.
2. Repeat their name and clear up any spelling confusion, “Hi Sarah! Is that Sarah with an “H” or without?” This lets them know that you’re serious about actually knowing their name and not just asking their name to be polite or make conversation.
3. Then after I’ve fully processed their name that’s when I say, “Hi, I’m Charlie.”, as I look them in the eye (important).
4. Write their name down or make a note on your phone. If I have a wingman with me and we’ve just met people, especially a group of girls, I let him step in and talk for a second while I pretend to send a text or something, while I really have opened up my notes on my Blackberry and put in everyone’s name along with some identifying characteristic. We also discussed in Boris’ team equipment entry the usefulness of having a very low-tech pad and pen for this sort of thing.
A couple other tricks I use include:
1. Boris, ¡Raul!, El Matador and I all know the Cyrillic alphabet and find it very useful. It’s fun and easy to learn and has paid big dividends for us. When I meet a girl from a country that uses the Cyrillic alphabet I always write their name down for them. For some reason girls are often super impressed by this! I have had fairly long chats with Bulgarian girls in Bulgarian, and then when I write down their name for them they are much more impressed by that than my ability to actually speak their language.
Another use for this alphabet for us is in other countries is it serves as a secret language for us. English is fortunately spoken worldwide, which is good for us dumb gringos, but not good if you want to have a private conversation. This is where Cyrillic comes in handy. I will write down a girl’s name right in front of her when we meet without her having any idea what I’m doing. Or I can write Boris a little note like, “Her boyfriend is over there!” or “Easy target!” or whatever in English but in the Cyrillic alphabet and pass it to him without fear of detection. This comes in useful when you have a notebook full of girl’s names and don’t want it to be obvious how many girls you’re been hitting on. Learn Cyrillic, it’s easy. I taught it to Boris and ¡Raul! over two or three drinks when they first got to Bulgaria and they had it down immediately.
Also Cyrillic is a good way to remember the pronunciation of new difficult words. The problem with English is there is no standard way to pronounce anything. There are so many ways to pronounce the letter “A” for example. So when I am trying to repeat what I learned earlier – “You’re beautiful, want to come to my hotel” in Farsi, when I look back on my notes in the Latin alphabet I will often have no idea how to pronounce again. This is where Cyrillic comes in handy – each letter has its own sound that never changes, so you can just sound it out and have reasonable success with pronunciation.
2. Another trick for remembering names I use if I can’t make a note easily is to think of someone else I know with the same name. For me this works great – if I just picture the face of the other person with the same name I will always be able to call up my new future ex-wife’s name. This obviously works only with names you are already familiar with. When I meet girls from places like India or Israel where the names are very unfamiliar I am shameless and write their names down in front of them or even ask them to write them down for me. “Wow, you’re my first Flapkina!”
3. If you forget a name, don’t worry. Just ask again, and be shameless about it. Just say, “I’m sorry what’s your name again?” The keys are to do it with confidence and do it early. If you are direct you may even gain points for forthrightness. Just don’t act embarrassed, and remember this time, you dumbass. Write that shit down! If I’m winging for a friend who forgot a girl’s name I will be extra shameless and ask for it right in front of him.
A funny story about this: When ¡Raul! and I were in Guatemala, I went out with a hot Guatemalan girl and after dinner and drinks took her back to our apartment. When ¡Raul! and our friend the AZZ got back from the bars that night, my girl called a couple girlfriends to come over and we had a little Guatemalan after party. When ¡Raul! took his new girl to his room and started banging her, in the middle she said, “I’m so sorry, I forgot your name.” He told her and he was not at all offended, after all he was fucking her, and as she was coming one of her many times she kept saying, “¡Raul!, ¡Raul!, ¡Raul!, I’ll never forget that name ever again!”