June 18 2010

Never Nice to Meet You

So not too long ago, I met up with a bunch of people and I kind of assumed I was meeting everyone for the first time. Some people said, “Nice to meet you…” to me. I said my hellos back or whatever. But with one chick I said, “Nice to meet you…” And her smile turned serious on me. She came back with the dreaded slightly annoyed, ‘Oh we’ve met before… Remember at so-and-so’s?‘ (or whatever). I had no recollection of meeting her at all– but I gave the big lightbulb reunion style hello.

Of course, by this point I had been distracted enough to forget her name altogether (again) even though we were just introduced (again). And she probably knew I was totally lying about re-remembering her. In that moment I was probably summed up as a self-absorbed wanker and a liar…

And when people I’ve met before say it to me I can’t help thinking, ‘How could this person not remember meeting me? I mean, forgetting other people is one thing but… nice to meet moi? I’m ME! You can’t forget ME! Illegal!’

So I’ve been struggling to completely remove ‘Nice to meet you’ from my social phrases. There’s really no point to it anyway. Like, if you spoke with someone on the phone before but never met them face to face– it’s more about, ‘Nice to meet you face-to-face…’ And if it’s definitely someone you’ve never met, ‘Nice to meet you’ seems like something you should say after you have a conversation. In which case it probably should be, ‘Nice to have met you.’ How they hell are you supposed to know if it’s nice to meet right off the bat? Is this something you can honestly say to someone with a sweaty handshake and something stuck in their teeth? (aka me)

Nice to meet you? What’s nice about it? In my head I’m simply struggling just to latch on to this person’s name– let alone sum up if the person is ‘nice’ or not. What’s so bad about, ‘How are you?’ It’s a safe zone and if that person reminds you that you’ve met previously– it’s much easier to spin into ‘I knew you looked familiar!!’ or something… But once you throw out the ‘nice to meet you’ to someone you’ve met– you gotta play huge catchup to get back in the person’s good graces.

So that’s it. I’m done ever saying, ‘Nice to meet you’ to anybody. There is no upside. Especially to a self-absorbed semi-dick like myself who can’t keep anything straight in his own head because I’m consciously distracted by insecurity combined with fascination with non-important details. (‘Is that a ladybug clip in her hair? What is that? Looks like Strawberry Shortcake or something.’ As her face and name float past my brain…)

I can’t trust my dumb self to lead the way in first impression situations so I’m finally learning to set up ground rules to I avoid any additional awkwardness.

If I really want to be safe, when meeting anybody– I should go with, ‘Hey! Awkward to meet you! Whether I’m meeting you for the first time or if I’ve met you before it’s still awkward for me– and now for you. If I met you before I absolutely may or may not remember you of course but if I haven’t met you please understand that I have to go through this whole speech thing because it’s the only way I can get into some comfort zone of not offending you and making things all awkward. Please tell me your name again and give me some sort of trick way to remember it so we can get started on the more formal weirdness of trying to present ourselves in the best light possible…’

ok bye!


Crombie says:

Nice to meet you Odd!

Crumbles says:

Nice to meee… WHAM

WTF?!?!?!?! says:

Or, you could become some kind of Brooklyn hermit- never come out of your apartment again, become some kind of Howard Hughes- wierdo.

Of course then you’ll have less excuses for NOT COMING UP WITH NUMBER NINE HAHAHAHAHAHA

the REAL weeze says:


Angry Man says:

Here’s my solution to that very problem. When being introduced to anyone, the first thing I say is “So, what’s in it for me?”. It works equally as well whether you are meeting them for the first time, or have met them before. Also, the awkward silence that follows gives you a few seconds to make up a mnemonic to remember them next time.

Also, it’s always weird to hear an American use the term “Wanker”. It just doesn’t go with their accent. It’s more of a British/Australian thing. e.g. “Shut up, you pommy wanker”. Yeah, that sounds right.

hebba says:

I think you should totally go with that….”Awkward to meet you. And now awkward for you.” It could be your catch phrase. And then nobody would forget you. Ever.

CaptainBob says:

So, what’s in it for me?

That just makes you sound like a dick. Believe Todd is trying to avoid that, thus the reason for this post. Guessing you missed it.

Yellowdog says:

Oh, so what if you get the occasional frosty “We’ve met before” line from humorless people? After a quick ‘sorry,’ use it as a springboard to crack a few jokes about having a brain like a sieve. You will be the life of any party, and may score the occasional one-night stand.

Jimmy the Juicer says:

What was your name again?

Anonymous says:

I’ve done the “We’ve met before” thing and realized that it’s a guaranteed conversation stopper so I’m trying to break the habit…I never meant it as a slam, just a reminder and an attempt to ease the awkwardness of a first meet….oops! Now I just comment on people’s shoes….:)

Odd Marc says:

Hi Todd, Bruce Campbell covers this in his first book, “If these Chins could kill” by telling a story about how Sinatra handled the situation. Apparently Sinatra met everyone and meeting Sinatra was a big deal and he was really cool about it. He had this blanket phrase “good to see you” that worked on first or multiple greetings… and Sinatra didn’t need to which was which.

Its good to see you today Todd. You rock.

JV says:

I agree with Yellowdog and Anonymous. Either crack a joke about you being stupid if you do forget, or for the receiver, just don’t say “We’ve met before.” I too do this because it doesn’t seem to accomplish anything but make the person feel bad for not remembering me (and it’s a conversation stopper). If it comes up later in the conversation, great, discuss it then but not right when you are being introduced. If it doesn’t come up in conversation, who cares.

Rae says:

I never remember names. I sometimes remember faces, though. When I get the “we’ve met before” line, I say something like – I thought your face looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to assume. Then, if the person actually seems peeved about the whole thing, I explain how I have a terrible memory for names. If they still seemed peeved, f ’em.

Unknown Comic says:

“Hello ladies and Germs, Nice to be in Peoria” works for me.

And if someone acts all dickish because you don’t remember them, pause, take a good look at them and say, “Ohhh…. NOW I remember you…” without smiling. It will get them thinking about what kind of messed up thing they did that you’d remember.

Dave says:

Why not a simple, “Hi, how are you?”

oddtodd7 says:

lol crumbles

schmooze says:

“good to see you” has become my new standard… covers all bases.

Angry Man says:

To CaptainBob: You are really thick, aren’t you?

Kate says:

That’s why I always just say, “Good to see you” or plain old “Hi there” when I’m shaking hands with people to avoid the whole “You don’t remember meeting me?” thing.

Also, if you have a hard time remembering names, it can help if you repeat their name at least once when they introduce themselves. “Oh, hi, (insert name). So, (insert name) what do you do?” It may sound funny in your head, but really they won’t notice that you’re repeating their name and it really does help you remember it later on!

Imogen says:

Todd – I tell everyone “it’s nice to see you. I promise I will forget your name and when I ask again be sure to embarrass me so I don’t forget again” Then they get a chance to tease me later when I do forget and the humiliation helps me remember their name! Works great.

Ginger says:

Everyone I meet they always remenber me!!! And people I have never met, they know me. Crazy. It’s the boobs. I think. Hehehe

MsM says:

You can use “Nice to meet you” when introduced to the Brazilian soccer team. Pretty sure you never met them.
I never remember names, but sometimes faces do look somewhat familiar sometimes, so “haven’t we met before? ” comes out. I have to meet some people about 5 times before I MIGHT remember their name. Awkward moment waking up…

emt training says:

this post is very usefull thx!

R N says:

Yes indeed. This post is very useful. I like Imogen’s suggestion.

Sawtooth Kenobi says:

I am terrible with names too… you would think I’d learn by now to make a conscious effort to remember someone’s name when introduced to them.

Now, with Facebook.. it’s even worse! I have a bunch of friends on there that I’ve worked with in the past or gone to school with. If I run into one of them at the grocery store or the coffee shop, it gets a little awkward. I look at them and I feel obligated to say *something* to them because we’re “friends” online after all. But, unless their name is floating under their face as it does on Facebook, I generally struggle to match the name to the face. So, I have to keep it real quick and casual as if I’ve got to be over in the freezer aisle in 2 seconds.

I’ve got another awkward name-forgetting story: I was out with a friend at a local bar and I saw this girl who I knew I went to highschool with but couldn’t remember her name. She looked great, and she remembered me and we began talking and I was hoping for something in the conversation would tip me off as to her name. Eventually, the conversation got well beyond the point where I could ask her her name. I’d be exposed for pretending I knew who I was talking to this whole time. So, I thought up and ingenious plan. I’d introduce my friend to *her* but not introduce her to my friend. That way he would have to say “nice to meet you, what’s your name?” and I could just be apologetic and say “oh, I’m sorry, yes this is so and so”. This move should be page one of the wingman handbook by the way.

However, I didn’t have time to brief my friend on my plan. I just said, “Oh! This is my friend Steve” and I stepped back and waited for my plan to unfold. “Pure genius,” I thought. Things immediately derailed when he said “nice to meet you” and then turned and glared at me like “aren’t you going to introduce her?!?”.. at which point, I was busted. I had to fess up that I didn’t remember her name. She immediately turned cold and didn’t talk to me the rest of the night. Turns out, once my friend heard her name, he remembered he had met her once before. Argh.

seriously: says:

You are hilarious! You brain fuck things to death, and are a bit a.d.d., but so freaking funny! I would like to meet you in person, I think it would be NICE. LOL Awkward for you, but nice for me!

Great blog! I actually love how it is simple on my eyes as well as the info is well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a health post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

Andrei Radio says:

Thanks for this insight. I would have been surprised if this weren?t your position. But the manner in which you described it was to the say the least, ambiguous.

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