still don't know that name...

I could never figure out exactly why I liked Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name” so much. I mean, it’s a fine song, featuring beautiful production by Kanye West. And it just popped into my head the other day…

Back when I was about 18, I was just getting started with my first company. I was starting to wear a tie regularly, had cut my hair into something resembling an adult haircut, and I was working on a networking project that I didn’t yet know was well beyond my abilities. As part of the death march on that project, I’d been going to the client’s office every day, more than an hour and a half drive each way.

Because it took so long to get home, I was stopping for food on the way home each time I drove out, and I ended up talking to the same girl every time. And corny as it seems now, she did have braids, and sometimes she’d hook me up. Extra fries, maybe lingering a little longer with the small talk after I ordered. A couple times she just refused to take my money when I tried to pay.

But one of the last times I went in there, she took her time giving me a receipt, and on the back she wrote her phone number. I remember it distinctly because at the time, still being young, I thought immediately, "Whoa, this is a 215 [area code] number, I can’t call this girl long distance!"

I’m sure she must have written her name on there, too. Hell, it was probably on a name tag on her, but somehow that part never stuck in my memory. I just remember the first time I ever got a phone number from a girl, and that I hadn’t even asked for it, and that the whole episode had slipped from my mind into my subconscious. And I guess it took a cheesy spoken interlude in a pop song to remind me of what should be one of the sweetest memories I could have.

Of course, being young and dumb, I never called. But I felt so grown-up in my tie, getting a phone number while on the road for work. And I guess it must’ve stuck in my brain somehow, because I sure do like this song. Hell, I like just about any song with that old-school spoken-word bridge. I probably like this one just a little bit better, though.