In the last month or so, there have been more TV specials on face blindness. (If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m face blind.) Sadly, I missed these specials. But I did stream part of one yesterday.
In the 60 Minutes episode, a blond-haired female reporter (I have no idea if I’ve ever seen her before) was interviewing a man with face blindness. He told her that he once apologized to a man before he realized the man was himself in a mirror. My kids gasped when I told them the story. And then, they marveled and made comments that at least I’m not that bad. (There are varying degrees of face blindness, and I’m not bad.) That was before the kids realized that I told them that story for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, I have never apologized to myself in a mirror. But I have been in a public place with lots of people and mirrored walls, and I’ve seen a face that seems familiar and a second or two later realize, “Oh, that’s me.”
But before you think, “Oh, that’s pathetic,” (yeah, I admit it is a little pathetic) remember that I’ve developed skills that you probably haven’t. I can pick people out based on the sound of their voice, the cut of their hair, and the way they move. So I was taken aback when we watched the Sherlock Holmes, part II movie. In the movie, Dr. Watson and a woman must find the woman’s brother before he sets off a bomb. But the problem is that the woman’s brother has changed his face with plastic surgery! So—oh my gosh—they can’t tell which man he is. I thought this was stupid. Easy-peasey. Even if we assume that he dyed his hair and cut it in some new style, all the sister had to do was look for his ears, his hairline, and the way he stands and moves. After all, this was her brother, not a stranger or someone she’d met only a couple of times. If he were my brother/parent/child, I could’ve picked him out in a minute or less.
The moral of the story is if your ever need to find a bomber who’s had plastic surgery, pray that he has a face blind relative.