By Pegi Taylor   Published Jun 12, 2005 at 5:19 AM

{image1}On Memorial Day, I took on a sacred cow and asked OMC readers the point of bars and how to enjoy them. A number of people who posted, particularly "Bay View Hopper," gave me a great handle on the situation. "Each bar in Milwaukee is like going into a different culture," wrote Hopper. This makes sense to me. I'm fascinated how pockets of people form "tribes." Thanks!

Of course, the instant you meet people problems arise. One of my problems is that I'm terrible at remembering names. I learn names quickly, but if I don't see someone for a month, even after plenty of contact, whether she was a Vanesha or Veronica fades fast.

Two weeks ago, I attended a family gathering at the home of one of my cousins. I certainly know his name and his wife's name and his kids' names. However, I was stymied when I saw his wife's mother and second husband. In this instance, I was lucky. I could whisper to a female cousin standing next to me, "What's the name of Susan's mom and husband?" and she reminded me.

Most of the time, I'm not so fortunate. I've read articles about memory and have employed various methods. Most recently, I've tried looking away to see if the name pops into my mind. This strategy rarely works.

Sometimes I can finagle an end run around my amnesia and just say, "Hi. How are you?" When not recalling a name seems pardonable, I have two options. I can begin the conversation, "It's Pegi Taylor..." and see if the person responds in kind, or I can confess, "I know I should remember your name, but I don't."

Then there are times when I'm just stuck. The worst was at a high school reunion last year. Even though I flipped through a yearbook beforehand, I still wanted to strangle the planners who decided not to put out nametags.

I feel particularly stupid because in Milwaukee it seems like everybody keeps track of everyone else. Plus, in our small big city, the six degrees of separation are more like two. At the airport, at restaurants, and always at the neighborhood hardware store I'm bound to bump into people whose names should come to mind.

Gotta second? I need your help. What do you do to remember names? And what do you do when you can't?

P.S. If you post, you'll be part of a fairly exclusive experiment. This is the third "I'm Asking for It," and I keep researching whether soliciting advice versus giving it has many precedents. Librarian Brian Williams-Van Klooster at Milwaukee Public Central helped me out a lot. Gordon Hinkley had a local radio show for years where neighbors called in, primarily with household tips. There are plenty of Web sites for consumers to opine on product preferences. Discussion boards have moderators, but generally the moderator doesn't instigate discussion. I haven't found a model for what I'm doing yet.