If you’ve ever met my wife, Joy Mundy, you’d remember. She is beautiful, smart, sophisticated, and, apparently, sometimes intimidating.
She’s also unforgettable. People we have only met once don’t just recognize her, they often even remember her first name. Remember me … not so much. Joy’s star burns bright while I apparently score really high on the “blends in” ability matrix (useful for schooling fish, chameleons, and people on the lam). This is a long-running joke for us and when it happens, we just smirk at each other. Sometimes this recognition is just a simple “Welcome back” and other times it’s much more obvious.
It’s always been like this. About twenty-five years ago we took an adult education woodworking class. About a year later we took the class again. When we walked into the shop for our second time through, the instructor saw Joy, pointed at her and said, “You’re Joy, right?” I got the generic “Welcome” he gave to all the new adults wandering through his class.
And it’s still like this. A few months ago we visited a sandwich shop in the nearby town of Medford, Oregon. We’d been in there once, about two months before. The owner came to our table and said to Joy, “You’ve been here before. I’d recognize those eyes anywhere.” Then, she turned and glanced my way. In the microseconds of eye contact I could read the message, “I have no idea who you are, but welcome, anyway.”
While we usually find it amusing that people recognize Joy, it sometimes gets weird.
Many years ago, while remodeling our California house we visited a specialty lighting store in San Francisco. In our initial visit we spent several hours with a sales consultant talking through the lighting options, learning about low voltage, spotlights, dimmers, track lighting, sconces, etc. A few months after our initial visit we went back to the store to make actual purchases. When we walked in we saw the same young woman who’d been our consultant on our first visit. She greeted Joy, with “Hello, Joy, it’s nice to see you again.” While she and Joy exchanged brief pleasantries, I stood off to the side, examining a set of light fixtures that interested me. After 30 seconds, the saleswoman turned to me and said, “Someone will be with you shortly, sir.” Not wanting to embarrass her, I responded with my standard response for this situation, “Actually, I’m with Joy.” One of these days I plan to introduce myself as Joy’s newest husband.
Joy and I would sometimes go to a lovely restaurant in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco. As sometimes happens, that restaurant fell off our “go to” list. A few years later we remembered the restaurant and I made a reservation under my last name (which is different from Joy’s). When we walked into the restaurant the Maître D’ greeted us with a, “Welcome, back, Joy” which was impressive since Joy’s name wasn’t on the reservation list so there was nothing to jog his memory.
As part of our training for our cross country cycle trip we used to go to the same gym several times each week. The folks there would always greet Joy by name and sign her in before she’d even shown her pass, so she eventually stopped showing her card. They always greeted me by my name, too, — right after they’d scanned my card.
It makes me happy that Joy leaves such a lasting impression. I’m the lucky person who’s been married to her for more than thirty years. And I’m fine with being her “plus one.” It comes with great benefits.