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Everyone Remembers the One With the Vagina

“Hey, Steph! Good to see you, how ya been?”

Walking towards me is a mid-thirties guy dressed in jeans and a tshirt, and sporting multiple tattoos. I meet his handshake with a smile.

“Not bad, not bad. How’re you doing, sir?”

That’s what comes out of my mouth. But what’s going on in my brain is:

FUCK! How do I know this guy? Shit, I have no idea what his name is!

This happens. At work, mostly. A lot. Someone I’ve worked with in the past, usually many months or a year ago, clearly remembers me, and I have no clue who they are. It’s not that I don’t like them, or I didn’t enjoy working with them last time. I just don’t remember them.

It’s not just my shitty memory, either. Well, I do have a shitty memory; I’ve been known to forget road guys’ names minutes after being introduced. (That’s why I tend to call people “Sir” a lot.) But to be fair, I’m not by any means playing on a level playing field. It’s because I’m the only vagina walking around the joint. Technical theatre has long been a boy’s club. A few generations ago, women were a rarity among stagehands. There’s more and more of us diving in the trenches everyday, and a chick carrying a wrench is no longer an anomaly, but we’re still definitely the minority. And though I have a few sister techs who work overhire for larger shows, I’m the only woman who’s there for every show. Which means that I stand out from the rest of the crew, and often, from other crews in other spaces. They may not remember Kyle the production stage manager or Tom the flyman, but they usually remember the lighting chick. Everyone remembers the one with the vagina.

I, on the other hand, work with a bunch of dudes. Usually in their 30’s or 40’s, they’re all (usually) dressed in casual work clothes, they all (usually) have tattoos, they all (usually) have a wicked and dirty sense of humor, and they all (usually) look like they need more sleep and a drink. They’re also all (usually) great guys who work hard, kick ass at what they do, and are great to work with, and I’d gladly have a beer with (most) any one of them. But when I only work with them for one day once a year (or even less!) I don’t get to know them very well. And when I work with hundreds of these great guys every year, their distinguishing features tend to blur together.

Which leaves me scrambling to sort them out in my brain, trying to place them in  my memory. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes, someone calling their name or seeing the equipment they carry, for the light bulb to snap on and my mind to scream,

Oh! Right! That’s that guy!

And then I stare at him hard, trying to scratch his face on my brain. I say his name and his company or affiliation to myself over and over. And I swear that I will never forget his name again. After all, he’s so fucking cool to work with, and it would be super sweet to work with him again, maybe even in a freelance capacity! And my brain hangs onto his information best it can, until next year when it finds itself once again saying,

FUCK! How do I know this guy? Shit, I have no idea what his name is!

So here’s to you, guys I can never remember. You road dogs, you camera guys, you maintenance men. My respect for you is boundless. I’m glad to know you and thrilled to work with you.

I just can’t fucking remember you.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Camels & Chocolate February 1, 2012, 11:00 am

    Ha! I had this problem at a black tie event Scott and I went to in Nashville on Saturday–a couple people came up to me who knew me from either college or growing up, and who I didn’t remember in the slightest. To be fair, I’ve traveled a whole bunch, lived in a handful of cities (and countries), and have probably met 20 times the people they have in the past decade since last living in TN. I also feel that’s not a level playing field!

    Monkey balls, I’d never thought about that! You must have a spreadsheet to keep track of all the people you know.

  • Charm City Kim February 2, 2012, 11:22 am

    Haha – my husband is very similar to the commenter above. He never remembers anybody because he’s moved so much. We play that game where I introduce MYSELF to the person who recognizes my husband and I get their name.

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