Names Are Smoke and Mirrors

“So there’s this guy who does this weird thing.”

“Who is he?”

“He’s from Guntersberg.”

“Is he the son of the mayor?”


“Is his last name Möller?”


“Who is he then?”

“He’s the best friend of the girl with a twin sister who’s friends with our cousin.”

“The Lanken sisters?”


“The sisters in our dance group?”


“Who are they then?”

This is a common exchange at one of my family gatherings. A colorful “who’s who” of the locale — except half the people at the table, including me, have no idea who’s being talked about. Not just the person in question, but anyone who might even remotely serve as a clue to who they are.

Quizzes are fun for those who know enough to play, but if you conclude you’re ineligible, you’ll zone out. I know the satisfaction of finally finding a piece in your inner archive you know was there, and I’m happy for my family to get that feeling. Meanwhile, the rest of us, however, sit there chomping at the bit: “What’s the weird thing the guy is doing, for Pete’s sake?!”

Names are smoke and mirrors — especially the ones you don’t know. Sometimes, a 10-minute discussion is worth the effort to reveal someone important to everyone at the table. Most of the time, however, it’s okay to just get on with the story.

Don’t get lost in the margins of life. There’s a big book to be written, and you’ve got pages to fill. Keep going, and if a detail eludes you for too long, it’s probably one you can very well do without.