Teaser 016: An Introduction to Confidentiality

When I emerged from the bathroom, I intended to reclaim my seat, but I noticed a bottle of Pacifico sitting on the table at the end of the sofa near Serena and there was enough space to sit without crowding her, so I walked toward her end of the sofa. I listened to the discussion still raging about what the two of us were doing on the patio.

When I reached the open space of the sofa, I asked Serena, “I see a bottle of beer on the table here, so I suppose you'd prefer I sit next to you?”

She looked up at me smiling as everyone grew quiet. “I would prefer that, yes.”

I smiled back but before I sat down I remarked, “Okay, but you have to promise me: no hanky-panky.”

Serena's smile grew wider. “No hanky-panky. I promise.”

“Good.” I sat next to her. “I believe you are a woman of your word.”

“Thank you.”

I snagged the bottle on the table. “You guys are still trying to wear down Serena?”

John spoke for all. “Well, it's not that we're trying to wear her down, Gregory. This is kind of an open, let's get to know Gregory type of meeting, you know. Everything out in the open sort of thing and you two go off and have a private conversation?”

Looking in front of me to no one, I responded, “I don't really have anything to hide, John, but when I said the magic word 'confidentiality,' Serena took it seriously, as she should. I thought she would, and you can try to badger her, but it's hopeless. You all know her better than I do, but I'll bet money if you piss off this woman, you have triggered a life-long vendetta, so my advice is: don't piss her off.”

Serena patted my thigh. “Good advice.”

John took the path of rationalization. “Gregory, if you don't have anything to hide, why hide it?”

I glanced to John. “Good question, but let's examine confidentiality first. I like the word. It has a cousin, confidence, and both are derived from confide. You wouldn't confide in a known gossip something which you didn't want to share with the rest of the world, would you, John?”

“No, and I can see where you're going with this.”

“Not yet you can't, because, while I expected Serena to get it, I wasn't completely sure she could tell the difference. Most of you couldn't, you really thought I was joking, but Serena, in her defense, at least guessed correctly. When you maintain confidentiality, that what is said and done in private, in a private space or behind a closed door, and it remains private, the result is an amazing thing. People actually have confidence in you, they will confide in you, because they trust it will never go past you. I try to live my life like an open book, that I have nothing to hide, but I have learned, sometimes through painful experience, most are not like me. They bear thoughts, feelings, experiences they may consider embarrassing, maybe even shameful, and it would crush them if it became common knowledge, but they're bearing a true burden, alone, and this is sometimes harder than the embarrassment, the shame, because they have no safe way to release the burden, unless they can confide in someone they trust. But if your reputation is as a known gossip, that you cannot maintain anyone's confidentiality, they have no hope of release through you. Many people who commit suicide are often driven to it by carrying some burden for which they have no one to help carry it, to help release it. How would you like to have that on your conscience?” The Great Room, this huge open room, was so quiet I could hear noises of everyday life outside, even miles away. I put the bottle to my lips and took a huge gulp. “Ah! The pause that refreshes.” Silence was instantly replaced by chuckles and murmurs. “Well, let me finish this long-winded explanation, since it's keeping us from our screenplay compensation discussion, which will become a negotiating battle between me and John Drury, my business adversary, and I am definitely looking forward to that conversation.”

“Somehow, Gregory, I'm not looking forward to it at all.”

“As well you shouldn't, John, since when it's all said and done your wallet will be lighter.”

“Among other things,” John added.

“I said I try to live my life like an open book. I have done some crazy shit in my almost sixty years on this planet, crazy shit most if not all of you would never believe possible. I would match my crazy shit with your crazy shit any time, one after the other after the other, and when all the crazy shit is exhausted, I will win the insanity race. But there is not one thing I've said or done for which I'm ashamed. Not one! I regret a lot of them, but I'm not ashamed of anything I've said or done…”

- Just Desserts, Segment TwoDog Grooming” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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