A home play script for up to six actors
You: Hello everybody, welcome to our first meeting of Erroneous Anonymous, the conversation group which aims to make you admit to mistakes. We all know how difficult this is, the anxiety and pain you can go through when you feel pressed to acknowledge you may have been wrong. I believe I am correct when I say that most of you here have found it particularly hard to go this path, hence your presence in this room today. Perhaps you are aware this resistance to admitting can sprout from a variety of reasons. There is guilt, shame, loss of face, or simply fear of the consequences when what one has been trying to supress turns out to be true after all. These are common reactions and nothing to be afraid of. We are here to openly talk about our feelings and learn to manage them and hopefully one day we will all be able to stand up for what we have done wrong in the past. But let’s start in a simple manner, is anybody willing to tell us an innocent anecdote where they had difficulty conceding their mistake? Yes, Mr A?
Mr A: The other day I was at a petrol station where you have to pay before you fill up. So, I gave the number of the dispenser and paid and when I went to my car, the pump didn’t work. I checked my slip, it was the wrong pump number. I went back inside and got angry with the girl at the counter. Why did you type in the wrong number, I asked her, I happen to be in a hurry. She stayed calm and said it was my mistake, I had given her this number. Now I almost exploded, but she remained as cool as ice and told me she did this hundreds of times during a shift and she never made a mistake. I was about to hit at her for her arrogance, but then this voice inside me asked, what is the fuss all about? Isn’t solving the problem more important? So, I gave in and she changed the number and I filled up and was on my way.
You: Now isn’t that amazing, people? A voice told Mr A to calm down. That is the voice we are all looking for. Glad to hear it didn’t get so far as to have you do anything criminal, because it might have landed you in all sorts of trouble. Ms B?
Ms B: There was this insurance salesman at the door and I told him I wasn’t interested, which is something of an automatic response I have. He told me we’d been in contact over the phone and it had something to do with damage I had reported and he was here to see whether the insurance would cover or not. I knew at that instance he was right, that I had forgotten he was coming that day, but I just couldn’t admit it. I played all surprised and said I didn’t know him and in the end he went away, leaving me to pay up for repairs. It was so stupid of me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to admitting my bad.
You: Such a minor incident, but with major financial consequences perhaps. That’s why you are here with us at Erroneous Anonymous, B, to help you avoid such reactions in future. Ms C?
Ms C: This is a biggie, I’m afraid. It’s about those injections against Covid. You see, I was afraid, I’d heard so many stories, and when it was my time to come and get the shot I just didn’t go. I was alone at work for a few days, all my colleagues were sick at home with a bad reaction, and when they came back they wondered why I hadn’t had any problems and I told them I hadn’t had mine. They all freaked out and now they don’t want to talk to me anymore. They avoid me, even at the coffee machine, as if I were some kind of a leper. I could have come up for the second round and tell them, look, I’m one of you again, but somehow I couldn’t. I was afraid they might make fun of me and that seemed worse than them being angry. This is quite a big deal for me, as I have no relatives in this town and my co-workers are basically my family. Were, I should say.
You: Gosh, that is a big one indeed. Luckily, you are never alone at Erroneous Anonymous. Mr D?
Mr D: My situation is similar to C’s, though it’s just the other way around. I have had my shots, two boosters included, but my wife hasn’t. She’s got this girlfriend who’s been telling her stories, and she got all scared and then she backed out. I couldn’t, as my workplace left me no choice, and wouldn’t have anyway. I believed in collective guilt as a positive force, so I joined up with the programme. Then my wife didn’t want to have sex with me any longer. Soon we stopped being romantic. We are ready for divorce, but housing is expensive and our budgets are tight. I spend most of my time in the spare bedroom. We’d been consciously waiting to have children and I guess they’re out of the question now.
You: That’s a sad but well-told story, D. I think some people here will relate to that. What was it in the end you couldn’t admit you were wrong about?
Mr D: I still can’t. That’s why I’m here. You see, I have begun wondering myself, lately, that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to have all these shots of a new approach to immunisation, untested on humans and with poor results in mice. I wonder, will I be fine? I know some people who have fallen ill at the wrong stage of life, and it’s not a pretty thing. I am sorry, I don’t want to scare you all with my stories. But you see, I will have to tell my wife that she was right and I don’t know how to. I don’t want it to be true, I guess. I’m afraid to admit to this particular mistake.
You: That is an interesting take you present here, D, but I don’t think politics should be a topic to work with for all of us.
Ms C: I wouldn’t mind talking about it.
You: Yes, but there are more of us.
Mr D: It’s okay, I’ll keep quiet. But I want to learn, see if I can come up with an idea. I’ll leave when I’ve seen enough.
You: That’ll be fine, thank you. Your entrance fee allows you four sessions. But we really mustn’t speak about such things. That would be erroneous. Let us continue, then. Ms E? What has brought you to Erroneous Anonymous? I hope it’s an honest character weakness this time.
Ms E: I fear I can’t help you either, ER. I have been campaigning for Ukraine, you know, bring refugees here and send weapons over there to resist the ghastly Russians. I felt good about myself and was cheered on by many. I was the it-girl of my town at forty. Forgive me for enjoying that.
You: Enjoyment is always encouraged here, my dear.
Ms E: But now I see the war dragging on, with those new weapons only prolonging the suffering of the Ukrainian people. The only way to fight this war is directly confronting Russia, but that is madness. There is no point to this war, apart from emptying up a nice piece of fertile land in the heart of the European peninsula. We need peace, but I’m afraid to say so. It’s not who my friends think I am, and I’m not known for changing my mind a lot, if ever.
You: Well, a strange first meeting it is. We are used to having stressed and anxious people, arrogant, stubborn and damaged people, a whole lot of those, as you all as well may be, but for the moment I sense a defiant anger here with little room for negotiating. It makes me wonder whether all of you have understood our lemma Erroneous Anonymous correctly. Perhaps I should change the name to Dickheads, as was suggested to me by a friend who is well-known for his ironic wisdom. Yet, let’s not talk about me. Back to our session. If you could all get one of those hand mirrors from the table and then look at yourself and say: I am wrong. Have a good look first and then say those painful words. Take your time. I will be passing round to assist you.