I went to a wedding last night (for friend who's shower I attended a few weeks back). I went alone and found myself unable, or unwilling to engage in standard small talk and so ours was an awkward little table, divided between two sets of two who knew each other and ignored us, and four women on their own--three single and me, sans husband. Three of us knew each other and one of the three knew the fourth, so we had strange lopsided conversations all night. I did try to be like another single at another table (whom I'd met before at other events with the marrying friend). She markets for a living (rather as I do now) and knows how to work a room. The art is not (as many people think) in presenting oneself well, but in being or seeming to be, fascinated by whatever drops out of others mouths. That is what people say of the great courtesans and geisha--not the beauty, not the sex, but the ability to make the person they were talking to, the center of attention, no matter how dull or how secretly uninterested. Now that a part of my job will be the glad handing and comfort making I was a little worried at how I really didn't want to do it. I tried the basic, "And what do you do?" but it was only when I discovered a mutual interest in similar films that I really made any effort. Once there were rules of etiquette for how long one chatted with the person on one's right before turning (gracefully) to the person on one's left, but that is a lost art.
I am not proud of the fact that I could not muster energy. I also fear that I am bad at names and since I have a good memory I can only guess that it is because I really DON'T care when meeting people. I certainly remember actors names, and obscure trivia. In my defense, as I said, I don't remember sound as well as visual (but I don't always remember faces either...) and preferably I should get both together. I think we should adopt the Japanese custom of presenting cards (as we once did ) with the name written phonetically if need be. It would certainly save me a lot of trouble with the mispronunciation of my name. Then I could later add the memory devices (good and bad) that would help me remember that person again--smells of mothballs, owns a dachshund, has two kids, works for AT&T, etc.
EDIT: I changed kinetic to potential. Sorry about that.