I entered the restaurant and asked for the Petry party (I wondered if it was supposed to be reminiscent of pity party). I was led to a room with four tables with six chairs each. The room was half full of people. They looked up, said hi, and looked away. We were not looking to become friends, apparently. A man approached, “Hi! I’m Bill.”
We shook hands, “Hi Bill, I’m Ralph.”
“Oh, Ralph. Let’s see, you sit over at table 3,” he pointed, “on the end. Bob isn’t here yet. He’ll introduce himself when he arrives.”
Bill walked away and I went to my seat. I looked at my watch, it was 6:55. Just then, three waiters came in with trays. They set a variety of sandwiches, salads, and drinks on a table along the wall. Bill said, “Help yourselves.”
I got my food and drink and returned to my seat. By the time I got back to my seat the chair to my right was now occupied. “Hi, I’m Bob.”
“Hi Bob, I’m Ralph.”
“Ralph, my role here this evening is to explain what will go on. The first thing that will happen, after we’ve eaten is one of us will share his story. I want you to pay particular attention to what he says. These presentations take a particular form. One day you will be asked to make a similar presentation.”
“When will I be asked to do this?”
“Ralph, this is all a bit bewildering. Information is doled out to you. It is doled out for a reason and while it is uncomfortable to go through, as you are asked to do various things, I will assure you that you will never be asked to do anything that gives you pause.”
“Bob, I am worried. A man came to my apartment…”
“Ralph, I want you to hold that thought. One of the things which is absolutely necessary in our process is anonymity. You must never share with anyone any part of this process. Let me offer this. You have a concern that you will be asked to do something that is outside of your own moral code. I cannot guarantee you won’t be asked, but I can guarantee you will never have to do anything you are not comfortable doing.
“Oh, here. The presentation is about to start.”
A man stood, walked to the front of the room, and announced, “Hi everyone, my name is Mike.”
Everyone responded, “Hi! Mike.”
“I want to tell you my story. I am 46 years old. I was married for 24 years. Just before our 25th wedding anniversary, I came home and found my wife and my brother in bed together. They had been lovers for years. We had three children, the oldest and youngest were mine, the middle child was my brother’s.
“We had a family business. It is still run by my father. My father always favored my brother. I told the family I would no longer be a part of any business which included my brother. I was basically told not to let the door hit me in the ass as I left.