Do I apologize, or do we all just pretend this NEVER HAPPENED?
April 7, 2014 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I "met" an internet friend over the weekend who it turns out is someone I actually dated in high school. I am really embarrassed and hate that I've been an accidental jerk, and I'm not sure what to do now. You know, other than feel like kind of an idiot.

Some background:

I am a moderately successful creative professional, and as such, I'm occasionally followed on social media by people who're interested in my work, or by other people in my professional community. Sometimes, I end up striking up a friendly dialog with these folks, and follow them back, and become internet friends with them over time.

One of those people -- I will call him George -- was in my city this past weekend for an event we were both attending. I told him he should come by and say hello, and I could meet his girlfriend, and maybe we could hang! I like to get to know new people and I'm trying to be more active about it.

George did in fact come by, I said something to the effect of, "Hey, it's great to meet you in person!" I chatted with him and his very nice girlfriend for a bit, and they went off to do their own thing. We didn't end up meeting up for a drink or dinner like we'd planned, but they seemed tired and over-booked for the weekend and I didn't think much of it.

This morning, when doing my weekend social media catchup, I saw some things that George and his girlfriend had written. She had been nervous about meeting George's ex-girlfriend, but George had assured her it would be okay, and then...George's ex-girlfriend had said something to the effect of, "Hey, it's great to meet you in person!"

Due to some context clues -- and some thinking back on my teenaged years -- I am 99% sure that I am George's ex-girlfriend. I dated a guy named George who looked basically like him about 15 years ago (I'm now in my 30's) and after a few weeks he broke up with me. I hadn't been friends with him previously, and we didn't know any people in common, so afterwards I just lost touch with him entirely. And then I left for college in a different state. When he internet-friended me, he didn't say anything to indicate we had a history together, and...well, there are lots of people named George in the world who aren't guys I dated in high school!

So anyway, now George and I are internet friends and I was inadvertently pretty rude (or at least, embarrassed him in front of his girlfriend) and I have NO IDEA what I'm supposed to do! I feel like such a jerk!

Do I send him an email? Do I message his girlfriend? Do I pretend like I didn't remember? Do I just act as if nothing happened? I haven't dated very many people, I've never been in a situation like this one, and I haven't a clue what the etiquette is.
posted by Narrative Priorities to Human Relations (48 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It was 15 years ago, just let it go. Don't mention it or bring it up unless he does. I don't see you not remembering someone being rude to either party so I wouldn't mention anything to the girlfriend either
posted by lpcxa0 at 10:49 AM on April 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't think you were rude in the slightest and have done nothing to earn the "idiot" tag - he could have mentioned it when he first contacted you but didn't so I'd just let it drop. If you see him/them again, ignore it. It won't be long before you'll be able to use it as a great dinner party tale!
posted by humph at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

What exactly is it that you are embarrassed about? Are you thinking that maybe you should have remembered who George was and now you're afraid he's all "huh, she doesn't remember me"?

If that's the case, I think you're okay, but if your conscience is still plaguing you, maybe dropping George an email to ask "you know, something's been nagging me - did we meet once before? Are you the same George who [insert something that distinguishes your ex-boyfriend George here]?" And then if he says yes THEN you can apologize for not having recognized him and go on to "wow, funny we ran into each other again".

Although, if it was only a couple weeks that you were dating, this REALLY isn't a big deal. I doubt HE even remembers it. I think you're fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

You dated a guy for a few weeks over a decade and a half ago, with no other contact? George didn't remind you of this, at all? No references during the time leading up to the meeting? I think you're fine not remembering.

Act like nothing happened, because...nothing happened.
posted by RainyJay at 10:54 AM on April 7, 2014 [36 favorites]

I'm struggling to figure out what you did wrong. This guy assumed that you'd remember him from eons ago. You didn't. He's kind of a jerk. You can't remember everyone, and it's not like he was the love of your life. He never promted you, or even hinted that he was THAT George.

It's a shame he set himself up like that, but it wasn't anything YOU did.

I'd wait for him to email you or something. If you feel the need to contact him, you could write him and say, "Nice to see you and to meet Girlfriend."

File it away.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:55 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, you can certainly do nothing - that is absolutely a viable option and you couldn't be faulted for going that route.

If you want / need to do SOMETHING about it, I would send whatever sort of message is most casual-feeling for you, whether it's email or FB message or whatever, saying something along the lines of "oh WOW, it's so funny that was you, I totally didn't recognize you! You should've said something. I feel like a dope - sorry!" And then be prepared for basically any response, including (probably the most likely) no response at all and no further social media contact. I mean, presumably you're trying to soothe the guilt / embarrassment of this awkward moment rather than trying to invest in re-developing this friendship, right? If so, I wouldn't go any further than a casual message with no pressure on him to follow up.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:56 AM on April 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I'd just send a quick private note to him, mention that it was great to see him, his girlfriend was interesting because [something] and that you are kind of embarrassed to even mention it but he really resembles a very nice George from your past that you remember fondly but due to how common the name is you weren't sure if he was that George when he connected with you. If he isn't, it is okay, that means there are two awesome George's walking around. Say you hope to see him and his lovely girlfriend again, g'bye
posted by saucysault at 10:57 AM on April 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

That's so funny, because I think they are totally rude!!

It sounds like he totally had some weird drama going with his gf that has nothing to do with you.

Ignore them and don't socialize much in the future.

It is beyond the pale that this guy has been socializing with you online and NEVER mentioned your history from highschool.

He's Weird Sauce.

Avoid him and pity his poor girlfriend.

Stay away. Stay far far away.
posted by jbenben at 10:58 AM on April 7, 2014 [39 favorites]

Can you confirm that it is him by his last name, or some other social media based info? If so, I think you just let it pass as if you misspoke when you said great to meet you, and feel free to talk about old times naturally as they come up. If he does mention it, you can just say something to the effect of "Did I say that? My word, I hadn't even noticed. I guess I'm just used to meeting new Internet friends as strangers. Funny! Of course I remember you. The time we saw blah blah blah..."
posted by Rock Steady at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2014

He broke up with you so you're 100% in the clear. Don't worry about it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:01 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can see how you feel dumb and embarrassed and jerky, but if he didn't bring anything up, then he is also partially responsible.

I'd drop him a small 'Holy crap I'm sorry I didn't recognize you' email, then go on with your life. If he's going to sit around and pout about it any further, its totally not your problem.
posted by Fig at 11:02 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The worst part about all of this is that I don't actually REMEMBER the last name of the George I dated in high school. I met him outside of school in a random context (think tour group) and we only knew each other for a couple of months at the very most. I just remember his name was George and he looked basically like this other George, and is from the same part of my home state.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:03 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't worry about it, but if you were to say something (don't) go more along the lines of "oh man I'm an idiot; I just realized I knew you already. Wow!"
posted by michaelh at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

george kinda got the drop on you there, information-wise, and it sounds like he set it up from the beginning - kinda stalkery. it would have been nice for you to know in advance that you were an exhibit in his "zoo of previous girlfriends" he was showing off to his current. i am actually most sympathetic to the current if this is his idea of entertaining her.
posted by bruce at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2014 [14 favorites]

I find it really odd he wouldn't mention this to you when he first got back in touch (like "Oh, hey! I wondered what you'd been up to since high school!") and his girlfriend being nervous about meeting you, a woman he dated 15 years ago for a few weeks as a teenager, is ... odd. I'd be inclined to ignore this and say nothing.

I don't think you did anything wrong, and I think you can absolutely be forgiven for slipping up and saying "good to meet you!" in this situation (I said that to my cousin's fiancee once, even after having met her several times before). I think George had time to correct this and it's more on him to do so, even now. You're fine.
posted by darksong at 11:05 AM on April 7, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I would apologize and just say what actually happened, which is that you didn't realize he was THAT George.

This is especially apropos if you didn't have George's full name or know many other details about him (where he grew up, where he went to high school, etc).

I am also in my 30s and have had a few "a thousand lifetimes ago" people pop up, where I totally didn't recognize them or remember that I knew them at all. (This is way harder when you're female and a lot of people friending you on social networks have different last names and prefer to put their children in their profile photos.) It happens. It's probably more likely to happen when you also have fans, and have been through the ritual of meeting virtual strangers through the context of your work.

One nice thing to do to signal that you want to move past it and be closer in the future would be to go out of your way to hang out (even virtually, with a skype session or something) or do something nice for them. Maybe send a care package? A mix tape? An exclusive example of whatever it is you do, if that applies here? Going forward, try to be a more active presence in their lives to signal that you know they're not just random fans.
posted by Sara C. at 11:07 AM on April 7, 2014

This is just one of life's amusing glitches. Make a story of it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 11:11 AM on April 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

and his girlfriend being nervous about meeting you, a woman he dated 15 years ago for a few weeks as a teenager, is ... odd.

I guess this depends on how successful you are, and in what vein, but a lot of people talk up their connections with perceived celebrities, and make more of these kinds of relationships than corresponds to the facts.

It's also possible that you meant more to him than he meant to you, which, eh. Nothing you can really do about that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on April 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think it is socially more unacceptable to tell him you did not recognize him after the fact, even if this was a normal mix up!

That said...

I can not understand anyone telling you to reach out to this guy further in any context.

It's not worth delving into his reasoning, but really, he talked about you at length to his current GF such that she posted about it on social media where you and others would presumably see it...and then your IRL interaction with them was posted about on social media, too...and not once has this guy said directly to you, "Hey - remember me from way back at xyz??"

It's immature and gossipy at best. bruce is right it may be stalkery. Avoid.
posted by jbenben at 11:12 AM on April 7, 2014 [16 favorites]

So this George you dated briefly in high school, he doesn't sound like he's particularly a big deal to you. Ask yourself how you would have treated him (or his girlfriend) differently if you had known that the guy you were talking to was him. From your summary, I can't imagine that you would have said anything much differently other than the verbal difference between "good to meet you in person" and "good to see you again, its been so long". But you barely remember him, it's not like you'd be up for much reminiscing, so the conversation would be basically the same. And you treated this guy totally politely, there's nothing to regret there. So I guess I don't really see what the problem is.
posted by aimedwander at 11:17 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would not trouble yourself about this further. The most generous interpretation for both of you is that this was not the guy you dated half a lifetime ago. If you move forward with that assumption, he's not a) being a weird guy who neglected to mention your past experiences together at all or b) hyping up your very minor past relationship to his current girlfriend, which seems maybe weird. If you move forward with that assumption, you also don't have to feel as awkward about this! If he was your long-ago ex, you wouldn't really owe him an apology or anything anyway. The generous thing to do to both yourself and this guy is to not worry about it.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 11:18 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think you did anything wrong or rude but I don't really understand George here. George (assuming it's the George you dated) at some point during your internet friendship must have realized you didn't recall knowing him previously. At the very least when you said things along the lines of being great to finally meet him (not "see him again" or "catch up on old times" etc.) preceding his visit. That was the time for him to clarify that you had already met - and dated - not just to his girlfriend but to you.

I guess it is possible that even though you never mentioned past dating, the old neighborhood, mutual acquaintances, etc. during your online friendship that he thought you realized it was him but just didn't ever talk about the past, or only like to talk about your creative career. Either way, you did nothing rude.
posted by mikepop at 11:28 AM on April 7, 2014

So you never mentioned it. Neither did he. You did the exact same thing as each other when you met. No source of embarrassment there.
posted by penguin pie at 11:34 AM on April 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As a chronic over thinker I totally understand why you're mortified. However, you really don't need to be. If you had been posting here before meeting him saying "should I pretend I don't remember him?" then your part of this may have been dickish, but as it stands it was a 100% genuine mistake. The thing you don't know, is how the gf meant her comment. You might be reading it as her saying "I was nervous about meeting George's ex as she's a big fish in her field, and then she said to him 'nice to meet you in person' as if she didn't even recognise him! Imagine her nerve!!" Whereas she might have been saying "George made a big deal about NP being his ex, but when we met her she said 'nice to meet you in person'! Ahahaha she didn't even recognise him, he's such a loser, totally caught out!" Basically, you're assuming you're an idiot because you did something idiotic, whereas maybe the idiot is George, who thought you'd remember him when in reality you had wiped him from your mind.

I don't think he sounds remotely stalkerish - good God people - and I'd probably lean towards a friendly "Oh crap it was you!! Was it? Man, I'm sorry. Was nice to see you both in any case." But you really don't need to if you don't want to, your hands are clean.
posted by billiebee at 11:34 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

You went out with a guy for a few weeks 15 years ago and you're the EX GIRLFRIEND that is making the current one nervous? You must have made quite an impression, lol. I wouldn't give it another thought.
posted by Dolley at 11:41 AM on April 7, 2014 [15 favorites]

Best answer: About ten years ago, I was on a dating site and ran across the profile of a woman who was a high school girlfriend. We hadn't kept in touch at all in the intervening decade+ since I'd broken up with her, but when I saw she was available for chat I was curious and decided to start a conversation.

I simply assumed it was as obvious to her who I was as it was completely obvious to me who she was.

After something like an hour of chatting, she asked something like "So... you look familiar." In the conversation that kicked off, it became apparent that she while she'd developed some idea of who I was over time, she hadn't immediately recognized me.

The differential is smaller in this story (and the time we dated was longer), but I think it illustrates that sometimes, people who haven't seen each other for a long time simply take different amounts of time to recognize one another (which is what you and my ex-GF experienced) and that an unspoken assumption of immediate recognition can be pretty wrong (which is what I and perhaps George experienced). It all sounds like pretty normal human stuff and nothing to particularly fret about.
posted by weston at 11:46 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think you did anything rude, but I don't quite understand the rush to judge George here, either. He might well come from a social media milieu where people don't just internet-friend each other out of the blue, so it's entirely possible he saw your acceptance of his request as a recognition of your shared history (in which case pushing it as a conversation topic might feel unnecessary or even rude/creepy.)

Then you met up with him and said "it's great to meet you in person" which to him could've looked like you mistakenly thought you had never met in person before, but might've just meant "after such a long period of internet-only communication." He may even now have no clue that you didn't realize who he was until after your brief meeting. The fact that he gave his current partner a heads-up that you were an ex seems like a totally normal and above-board thing to do. The apparent mismatch (to you he's just some guy you dated for a couple weeks, to his current partner you're an intimidating Ex Girlfriend) might have to do with the way he talked about you to her, or it might be her being insecure generally, or any number of other things. I see no reason to assume George is being at all weird here, everything described could arise from his presuming you recognized him and that any further "hey hey remember when we used to make out?" nudging would be gratuitous.
posted by contraption at 11:48 AM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

No, don't apologize. If you want to clear your conscience, send him a message along the lines of "great to chat with you the other day! By the way, did we know each other a million years ago? You seem familiar in hindsight but my memory is awful!"

If he gets offended by that, well, then it's not really someone you should worry about appeasing.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:57 AM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't see any harm in sending a short message that says "Oh my god. I honestly didn't realize until just now that you are George from summer camp. Total /facepalm/. Thanks so much for coming by to say hi. Sorry for the brain fart! It was good to see you."

It doesn't give any more weight to your former relationship than there actually was (hint: almost none), but it will make things less awkward if you ever see/interact with him again.
posted by MsMolly at 12:06 PM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

He broke up with you after a few weeks in high school and he built this up to his current girlfriend to the point where she's nervous to meet his "ex"????

Dodge this bullet.
posted by thebazilist at 12:07 PM on April 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Are you sure it was the same George, and that you were the girlfriend referent in the facebook post? Not everyone remembers things (and faces) the same way, but 15 years wasn't so long ago that you generally don't remember someone that you spent weeks/months with.

Even if it is the same guy, though, you were not negligent in any way. There are social cues that were dropped that could have helped this along a bit on his end (assuming it was the same guy).
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:10 PM on April 7, 2014

And if it is the same George, it strikes me as a bit odd that she would talk about meeting you in the third person on facebook, knowing full well that you would be able to read it. That alone makes me wonder if you were the intended referent, although if so, it confirms a weird vibe over the whole thing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:13 PM on April 7, 2014

Response by poster: Quick update: further social media updates have made it 100% certain that it is the same George.

All the advice and thoughts are very much appreciated -- thank you!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:14 PM on April 7, 2014

Response by poster: Also, George never said anything about meeting an ex on his social media account that I follow -- his girlfriend did, which I only saw because she seemed nice and does the same sort of work I do and I had gone to go check out her account and learn more about her. So I technically still have "plausible deniability" and am now figuring out whether or not I want to maintain it.

Anyway sorry, don't mean to thread sit!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:16 PM on April 7, 2014

I still think the least socially objectionable stance is that you totally recognized him, you just had a brain fart when you said nice to meet you. Depending on your ensuing conversation, that may not be defensible, but if you didn't talk about your past or background or something, as if you had no idea who he was, I think you are fine. This has the advantage of the fact that, as far as you are concerned, no faux pas has happened, and if he does bring it up later, you can pretend like this is the first you are hearing about it and just apologize for the slip of the tongue, rather than suggesting you didn't recognize him, which seems particularly harsh if you loom large in his dating history (for whatever reason) to the extent that his current gf should be nervous about meeting you.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:21 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Now that you know it is THAT George, I would definitely say something. It seems shitty not to, unless you really dislike this guy and are looking to burn this particular bridge.
posted by Sara C. at 12:23 PM on April 7, 2014

Wow. I was pretty sure that standard protocol when facebook-stalking someone from your past is to re-introduce yourself by saying, "Hi, I'm George from [tour group]! I'm sure you don't remember me! Ha ha!"

To which you can reply, with your memory appropriately jogged, "Oh, yes, George, of course I remember you! How nice to hear from you again!" and proceed appropriately.

Either George was just kind of awkward in failing to follow this protocol, or he is so arrogant that he thought he SO ROCKED YOUR TEENAGE WORLD that he was unforgettable, or he slipped up at the beginning and then suddenly realized after a while that you didn't remember him and didn't know how to broach the subject, or he was setting some kind of weird trap to catch you out for his and his girlfriend's amusement... However you slice it, that's his foul.

Also, George's girlfriend should learn about privacy settings and not posting catty things where they are visible to the general public.

So, major gaffe on George's part, minor gaffe on the girlfriend's part, even minor-er gaffe on your part... and I don't see anything promising coming from this relationship, and I would forgive you completely if you decided to forget it and move on.
posted by BrashTech at 12:31 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I dated a guy named George who looked basically like him about 15 years ago (I'm now in my 30's) and after a few weeks he broke up with me.

Wow, I totally wouldn't remember him either. Thinking back to my teenage years (about the same time ago) I can think of three or four dimly remembered guys that I dated for a couple of weeks and then stopped dating. I can't remember most of their names. I'm just impressed that YOU remembered his name was George!

Definitely a little strange that he and his girlfriend put this much emphasis on your former connection, it seems like a stretch to even call it a relationship. I wouldn't do anything, just continue being casually friendly and chatty online as you might have if you hadn't seen the social media post. If he wants to make a point of saying "Oh actually we knew each other" (which he probably should have a while ago) he can do that.
posted by arnicae at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ha, you are living the dream -- the dream of completely forgetting an ex to the point that when you come across him again, you sincerely say, "uhh, who are you?" It's almost too bad that it wasn't some ex who did you wrong!

But don't feel bad. You weren't rude, you were sincere and pleasant. Obviously there was tension there between George and his girlfriend, but that's on him. (It sounds you like you have social status in your sphere, and I bet George played up his connection with you to his girlfriend, to make him seem higher status to her. "Oh, yeah, she was my girlfriend back in the day ...") I think it's weird that he never mentioned the shared history to you. I would just act like nothing happened.
posted by stowaway at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'm voting for not feeling weird about it. You didn't do anything wrong, you were friendly and polite. The weirdness comes from this dude who used to know you when you were a teenager, making contact via social media and agreeing that he and his girlfriend would meet up with you at an event and telling her all about you the long-lost ex without ever bothering to tell you who he was. That's really weird. If you wanted to be super awesome, you could send them a message saying that you're sorry, you hadn't realized he was THAT George until you saw his girlfriend's social media postings and blah blah blah... but you don't have to. You're not the one who created the weirdness. George started it, his girlfriend added to it by posting about the incident publicly enough for you to see. Reaching out to make an apology to either or both of them is above and beyond the call for this situation, all that is really required of you is to be polite and cordial if you ever run into them again.
posted by palomar at 1:25 PM on April 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We don't know what is going through his head. He could be the creepiest creep that ever creeped or just could just be guy who happened to roll out the rekindled acquaintanceship in the an awkward way. Either way a simple "I totally didn't realize it was you. I am so sorry but it was great to meet you and GF's name." isn't going to cost you anything. I know I have made the same apology for forgetting that I know someone. If George does end up being a creep it wont be because you were polite for the sake of politeness.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

"I totally didn't realize it was you. I am so sorry but it was great to meet you and GF's name." isn't going to cost you anything.

Actually, it costs a lot!!

- The OP might now come off as catty to this weird couple

- The OP will be further engaging with this weird couple

- Even if this weird couple did not already show a propensity for reading into things and posting about them publicly on social media, saying, "Oops!" to them now is just throwing a blanket of Awkward on top of the whole mess.

This has been a fun episode of the show "OverThinking Social Interactions - Monday Morning Edition" but unless you like the dramaz, OP, laugh it off.

(Personally, this would become my new fav cocktail party story about a year from now, but I'm immature and still sometimes like to make fun of silly people. Don't be like me!)
posted by jbenben at 2:18 PM on April 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am the kind of person who, if something like this happens, I need to acknowledge it to make myself feel better. I wish I could shake it off, and not care, but I know I would harp on it in my head for a fair length of time. Not because it's a big deal, but because I'm just like that. I also know that once I talk to the person about it, I'd feel 100% better.

So I want to put a vote out there, in case you're like me, to acknowledging this using one of the many very well-written scripts people have given you so far. If it is going to make you feel better, reach out to him.
posted by violetish at 6:54 PM on April 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't jump on blaming the girlfriend, maybe HE built up some story about you that isn't true.
posted by eq21 at 7:27 PM on April 7, 2014

And have you considered that maybe it isn't the George you oh so briefly dated a decade and a half ago but is a George you'd never met before in person who has told his girlfriend he use to date "moderately successful creative professional" you? I have personally experienced this myself. I'm just saying, there are strange people out there that do stupid things when trying to impress others.

I'd just let it go. Either it's some weirdo you have never known, or it's some weirdo you briefly knew ages ago when you were a kid. Either way, you did nothing wrong. On the other hand, this guy comes off as kind of ... weird.
posted by Orb at 1:35 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm surprised by how many people are saying not to contact him and making seems a little unfair. It was an honest mistake and I don't think you should feel guilty about it, but it may have been a slight blow to his self-esteem. To me it seems reasonable to assume that someone you dated for a few weeks would remember you. It also seems reasonable to not say anything if it becomes clear the person doesn't remember you...he probably didn't want to add any awkwardness to the situation.

Unless you have hostile feelings about him, I think a brief message would be appropriate. I think it would even be okay to contact his girlfriend if you like, although I'm sure few would agree with me. In general I think honest, open, kind communication is a good thing regardless of whether it's conventional or expected.

If you send a nice message and they respond with disdain of any sort, then I would say drop the situation and ignore him.
posted by cosmicbeast at 4:57 PM on April 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ended up messaging him this morning to apologize for not recognizing him and to express my hope that I didn't make things weird for him and his very nice girlfriend. He admitted to being surprised but said it wasn't a big deal. So that's that!

Thanks for helping me calm down about this a little -- as many of you suggested, it was an easy enough thing to handle in the end!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: (I marked a few "best answers," but really, this entire thread was very helpful!)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2014

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