Newsflash: High Society Amnesia Exposed!
Reuters, April 17, 2004 10:07am
After a sudden series of admissions from celebrities and other members of high society, more and more people are coming forward to confess to what has until now been a well-kept secret: millions of Americans cannot remember their own name.
Forgetting to get milk on the way home, failing to remember that one’s glasses are perched on top of one’s head, missing someone’s birthday – these are all lapses of memory that are so commonplace that they have become acceptable behavior. But a different kind of amnesia has been hidden under the glossy surface of American high society, an amnesia so embarrassing that those who can afford it have gone to great lengths to hide their affliction. Now, after the numerous revelations all across the country, their very attempts to conquer their malaise are quite easily spotted.
They reveal their problem to the world without even realizing it, by placing reminders of their identity on as many of their belongings as they can. An entire industry of monogram makers, engravers, and seamstresses has profited from this malaise. Take the shirt cuff monogram. A businessman who suffers from such amnesia can, just before introducing himself to an important client, shoot his shirt cuffs and glance at the monogram stitched there by his tailor. Then, relieved, he can smile at his counterpart and introduce himself with the confidence necessary to succeed in business. And if the shirt happens to be at the dry cleaner, the smart businessman has his back-ups: the cufflinks, his watch, his briefcase clasp, his pen, maybe even his belt buckle.
In their leisure time, these sufferers avoid embarrassing moments by placing monograms on anything that they might use while interacting with others -- golf balls, wallets, handkerchiefs, even luggage. Naturally insecure as a result of this affliction, they tend to assume that others can’t remember their name either. So to spare their guests any embarrassment, they’ve also put monograms where their guests can clearly see them, such as bathroom towels, silverware, or their car’s licence plate (whose name should now be changed from ‘vanity plate’ to the more honest and apt ‘amnesia plate’). Why monograms are also popular on intimate articles such as bathrobes and slippers has not been determined yet, but some experts suspect that waking up and not knowing one’s name is extremely disorienting. They suggest that identity reminders on household items used first thing in the morning can alleviate the stress of trying to remember one’s name quite considerably.
Wisely, these people have stayed away from clothes that feature the designer’s logo or initials prominently. They steer clear of T-shirts with “DKNY” or “GAP” printed on them, so as to avoid the confusion of wondering whether their name might be Danielle Karen Norma Young, or George Alan Phillips. Instead, they always stick to garments clearly labeled with other people’s names, such as Armani, Hilfinger, Cerruti, or Ashley.
Somehow this problem tends to surface in people of high social status, as evidenced by the fact that just about everything one can buy at Tiffany’s – envelope opener, key chain, business card holder, pocket knife, paperweight – can be monogrammed for a small surcharge. They even prepare their children for the possibility of inheriting this memory fault and buy silver baby rattles with their offspring’s initials on them. Walmart, on the other hand, does not offer monogramming service on any item. Afflicted members of the lower classes who can’t afford Tiffany’s have historically resorted to tattoos, a far more efficient, durable, and economical way to remind oneself of one’s identity.
Frauds and wannabe’s, hoping to join the ranks of senior executives through sheer imitation can easily be detected by their misplaced monograms. Their initials on shirt pockets are useless for those in need of a surreptitious mnemonic device, considering the contortions required to decipher the letters while you’re wearing the shirt. Even more idiotically are monograms embroidered on the shirt tail, where they are completely hidden from view, unless the wearer expects to introduce himself in a public bathroom to the person next to him, in which case the exposed shirt tail might come in handy.
This mass-revelation, triggered by several stars who couldn’t remember their names during their moment at the podium of the recent Oscar Awards ceremony, has thrown the nation’s health care industry in upheaval. The American Psychiatric Association has not yet agreed on a scientific name for this affliction, nor does anyone know whether counseling can cure this issue. The nation’s largest HMOs will be conferring at an emergency session next week to discuss what level of coverage this problem requires. Will monogramming costs be eligible for reimbursement? Should hospitals offer free tattoos for low-income patients? The ACLU has already weighed in on the topic with a brief titled “No Discrimination against Monogram Bearers”(www.aclu.org/monogram), fearing that anyone sporting a monogram will be disadvantaged in interviews for jobs requiring mental agility.
So if you have anything monogrammed, ask yourself: Why? Are you afflicted with this same disease, or are you a wannabe? If you can’t remember, this correspondent suggests you throw out anything with your initials and opt for a discreet tattoo to ensure continued employment and respect from your friends and family.
copyright 2004 - Hunter Braum