Who am I? (I’ve watched Les Miserables so many times over the past several weeks that I want to answer Jean Valjean.)

We’ve been at Panera for thirty minutes. Kate is working jigsaw puzzles. I’ve been checking and responding to email. A minute ago, we had the following conversation.

KATE: “Who are you?”

RICHARD: “I’m your husband.”

KATE: “But what is your name?”

RICHARD: (Knowing she wants my full name.) “Do you want my first name?”

Kate gives me a dirty look.

RICHARD: “My name is Richard.”

KATE: “What else?”

RICHARD: “Creighton.”

KATE: “Oh, I knew that; I just forgot. What is my name?”

RICHARD: “Maybe I should ask you that?”

Kate gives me another dirty look.

RICHARD: “Kate Creighton.”

KATE: “That’s right.”

We play this game frequently. I am reasonably sure that sometimes she doesn’t remember her own name. (I know she doesn’t always remember mine.) I am never sure at the particular time if she is just playing the game with me and really knows her name or if she really doesn’t (at that moment). This was one of those times when I’m not sure.

I hope the tone of this exchange comes through the way I intended it. There is a serious undertone because she really does forget my name. On the other hand, the way she enters into this “game” seems very light-hearted and innocent. It is very much the way a small child might play a pretend game. I often wonder if she feels this is a safer way for her to find out my name than to ask me in a more serious fashion. I guess that is one of those things for which I’ll never have an answer.