‘30 Rock’: I don’t know if you remember me, but . . .

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Last night’s 30 Rock carried an ongoing gag from last week’s episode, and watching it again really made me realize how annoying I must have been in college. Yes, that’s a weird parallel, but just wait until you see the completely insane circular logic that led me to it.

Emily Mortimer began guesting last week, playing Phoebe, the Christie’s auction house employee who quickly developed a relationship with Alec Baldwin’s Jack. Throughout last week’s episode, every conversation she started with Jack or Liz began with the character introducing herself as if they’d forgotten who she was.

The bit is delivered perfectly by Mortimer, as it’s not even noticeable the first time she did it when she’d just been reacquainted with Jack, but then only a few hours later she did it again. And then, again. And again.
The audience must have started to wonder: does this woman have a problem with low self-esteem? Could people really forget her that frequently, and that quickly? She seemed far too haughty and frigid to either believe that she was inconsequential, or to admit it publicly. (Admitting it makes it true!)

Phoebe developed new affectations as she went: she explained that she had “Avian Bone Syndrome”– hollow bones–and that she’s fragile. Far be it from me to advocate mocking anyone who may possibly have a condition like this–brittle bones?–but when an aloof British woman tells Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey that she has “bird bones” in a voice that sounds like it might break, there’s no getting around it. It’s funny.

So what does this have to do with my college days? I am not British, nor do I have bird bones. But I did have what must have been the most forgettable face. If I talked to you at a party, or after class, I would remember where you were from and what your major was, if not your name. And chances were that you wouldn’t remember ever having seen me before in your life.

I developed the annoying habit of telling people that we’d met, then trying to prove it by telling them whatever personal bits of info I remembered about them. It seemed like a defense mechanism at the time, but wow, how weird must that have been?

At the end of last week’s episode, Jack proposed to Phoebe right in front of Liz. At the start of last night’s episode, Phoebe again prissily introduced herself to Liz, and informed Liz yet again that she had “bird bones,” at which point my 20-year-old self started screaming at the TV, “She remembers you! She remembers you! For the love of Pete, you weird little woman, she remembers you!” It was awesome.By Liz McKeon

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