There’s a great line in “The Princess Diaries” where the main character, in all her bad-hair, bespectacled blandness, laments to her friend, “Somebody sat on me again.” (It happens early on, before she gets a makeover and turns into beautiful Anne Hathaway.)
- A woman at the YMCA, with whom I shared a 40-minute conversation, looked at me with ZERO recognition the very next week — and even stuck out her hand to introduce herself to me. I could recall her name (first and last), her kids’ names and ages and how she met her husband, but she didn’t remember speaking to me face to face for 40 minutes!
- The chick in a small-group meeting, who, after sitting across from me every week for 18 consecutive months, asked if I was joining the group for the first time.
Is it me? If I were more dynamic in conversation or more striking, or spoke with a cool accent, I’d register enough impact so people would at least remember my name, even incorrectly. Right?!
But now there’s some relief for me — and you, if you’re a fellow invisible — in the form of an actual medical condition called prosopagnosia. People who don’t like words with more than two syllables call it “face blindness.”
Essentially, the condition impairs a person’s ability to recognize faces. Prosopag…, er, face blindness can render the afflicted unable to identify even people they’ve known for years. According to a study published by The American Journal of Medical Genetics, as many as one in 50 people have some degree of face blindness. (And it so happens many of them are clustered in my township.)
Sadly, there’s no medical treatment. Those who have it rely on cues like hairstyle, voice or context to recognize family, friends and neighbors (or perhaps fellow YMCA or small-group members).
So the next time an acquaintance flashes you that offensively blank look of non-recognition, you can chalk it up to prosopag …, uh, face blindness.