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Matt Gamber | Thursday, October 4, 2007

The art of the name drop is a tricky one, but from what I’ve seen so far, Notre Dame students are more than capable of mastering it – with the help of a quick crash course.

There are, of course, certain situations in which a well-executed name drop is appropriate. When trying to gain entrance to an exclusive party, for example, you shouldn’t be shy about telling people you know someone inside.

But the way in which you do this is critical to the success of your name drop.

The primary goal of any name dropper is much like that of a poker player: don’t get caught bluffing. And if you do, jump ship as quickly as possible.

Varying levels of name dropping exist, and the differences between them should be duly noted.

Beginners consistently fall into the trap of the third-degree name drop, which is about as subtle as wearing an “I know Golden Tate” T-shirt.

Perhaps a real-world example of a third-degree name drop I heard during the Michigan State game will help illustrate.

When Golden (did you catch the name drop?) received a kick-off in the first half, an over-zealous fans in front of me exclaimed, “Golden! He’s my boy,” not realizing that sitting right behind him (note the more subtle name drop, implying a connection with Golden without outwardly stating it) was Golden’s roommate.

Considering we had never seen this kid around, it’s a pretty safe bet that

Golden was not, as this name-dropping newbie claimed, his “boy.”

Caught in the act.

If you’re convinced you can pull off a name drop of this magnitude, do yourself a favor and avoid one of the tell-tale signs of a third-degree dropper: unnecessary Facebook shout-outs.

So obvious.

Once you progress past the blatant, third-degree name drop, you’ll reach the tamer, more effective second degree. With less exaggeration of the truth and a more natural integration into conversation, this type of name drop can be disguised to the novice name dropper but is still relatively easy to spot for a veteran.

Look for second-degree name drops to appear as casual responses to questions like “Who did you hang out with last night?” Getting tricky, but still very detectable.

The sign of one who has mastered his craft is the ability to drop a name in the first degree. Like the Cubs winning the World Series, it may take years to happen – but when it happens, rest assured that it will be worth it. A true name dropper can read the situation so well without tipping his hand (back to the poker analogy) that any suspicion of name dropping is all but erased.

Don’t get too cocky, though; one misstep and you’re right back at square one.

So, my fellow aspiring name droppers, remember one thing: it’s not about what you know, nor is it really about who you know. It’s about who you say you know – just don’t get caught.