Times Columnist, Tuesday, March 25, 1997, page C3

Sense of direction is missing

Dear Ann Landers: In just finished reading your column about people who have no sense of direction. Please make your readers aware of another even more embarrassing glitch in some people's neurons. It is the inability to recognize people.

I have suffered from this curse ever since I was a child. When I was in college, I used to be humiliated because I could not recognize my professors on campus, just hours after I had been in one of their classes.

Even today, if I were to bump into my next-door neighbors while in another city, I would not recognize them until I heard their voices or saw their beat up car. Just this morning, a neighbor from down the block spoke to me, and I thought he was the furnace repairman until he mentioned something about my lawn.

Since misery loves company, I was delighted when I heard others have this problem, too. I was comforted when I read that novelist T.S. Stribling couldn't recognize his next-door neighbors either. Soon after he won the pulitzer prize, he was seated next to Eleanor Roosevelt at a dinner. He had no idea who she was and kept wondering why so many people kept coming over to speak to her.

I always try to look for clues, either by listening to people's voices or letting them do most of the talking, hoping for a clue from the dialogue. I'm sure some people think I am a snob or extremely unfriendly, but the truth is, I have this problem that is impossible to explain, so I have stopped trying. Please print my letter so people will be more understanding.

                                            Finger Lakes, N.Y.

Dear F.L., N.Y.: Your letter illustrates yet another example of faulty cranial wiring. Your problem is probably a second cousin to dyslexia--which few people knew about until fairly recently. Children with dyslexia were thought to be stupid until research proved otherwise, and in fact, they re often brighter than average.

Thanks for a letter that is sure to make a lot of people feel better.

Dear Melynda: Thank you on behalf of all senior citizens you have informed today. I'm sure you've cheered them up considerably.