We have a dear friend who wanted to write a novel about a character with face blindness. She thought it would be a great suspense novel. Unfortunately, the editor she communicated with was not as well-versed in the ailments of the day as we novelists typically are, and she rejected the idea. So I'm here to tell my readers everywhere (all three of you) that faceblindness is alive and well right here in Southwest Missouri. See this guy? He's face blind even when his eyes are open.
We were watching television last night. Eureka, I believe it was. One of the characters, a tough deputy sheriff named Jo, got out of uniform and into a nice black dress and let her hair down. Not only was this NOT the first time last night that we'd seen her out of uniform, but her face was right there, dark brown eyes and all! Mel said, "Sweetheart, is this a new character? Where'd she come from? What kind of writing is this?"
I said, "Honey, this is Jo. You know Jo. She pulled a gun on the sheriff in the last episode."
"Naw, that can't be her. This woman's got dark skin, dark hair. What do you think she is, Native American?"
"Mel, you know who Jo is! She's been in the show since the beginning, she's just not wearing her uniform. She has her hair down."
"I don't believe it! It can't be her."
"Just because she isn't wearing that tight bun doesn't mean she's a different person, honey. That's Jo. Trust me. I know."
He gave me a suspicious look, as if I might be trying to pull a trick on him.
Mel has face blindness. It does make things difficult when he lives in a small town and everyone expects him to know them if he's seen them in the clinic. That can get dicey. And as for church? Mel shakes hands with everyone, calls everyone the wrong name. We've gone to church, and often ended up in the same Sunday school class with an optometrist Mel has referred patients to for nearly twenty years. But Mel doesn't even know Greg when he walks into the classroom.
I can do you one better. A couple of years ago (yes, I know I've told you this, but it definitely bears repeating) I got my hair lightened and cut, and then went to a local restaurant to meet Mel for lunch. I was already seated when he arrived. I smiled and waited for him to walk back to me. He walked right past me to the back of the room, all the time, looking for his dark-haired darling. He had to be led to the right table by a server. THAT is how face blind he is. Our friend who wants to write about face blindness should just go ahead and write the book. I know there will be an editor wise enough to realize that there really is such a kind of person, and the affliction is real, and there could be some really scary scenes in a book like that. You should have seen how scared Mel was when he discovered I was his wife, sitting there all pretty with blond hair.
Yep, face blindness exists. My husband is living proof.