One time I was in a cab with a bunch of friends, including the adorable young daughter of one of my friends. I was sitting in the front with the cab driver, and he was making faces at the little girl, who was interacting with him through the plastic screen, and he said to me, “Awww, what is her name?”
Except I thought he said, “Awww, what is your name?”
So I said, “Elizabeth.”
And he called over his shoulder in a baby voice, “Hi Elizabeth! Are you having a fun night, Elizabeth? How old are you?”
I was immediately mortified, and hoped everyone would be too confused by the general chaos of being crowded into a cab in heavy traffic to notice or point this out, and indeed, everyone was. Thankfully, it was a short cab ride. We got out in a second (he called, “Bye, Elizabeth!” after us), and nobody seemed to really notice or question it.
I was thinking about this this morning, because I don’t think this is a mistake I would make now that I have a child and am very child-focused myself. Not that many people who don’t have children are as self-obsessed as I am; I’m sure most people would have realized he was asking for the baby’s name regardless. Why the hell would he be asking for my name? But it just…wasn’t on my radar at the time.
Now, though, I only care about Edith, so when people ask “how are you” politely and not really caring, I reply, “well, Edith has got two teeth and is sleeping through the night and crawling, and I think it won’t be long before she starts walking….” and twenty minutes later, I remember too late and say, “and you?”