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My Small Group, Anonymous

Where nobody knows your (last) name.

A year ago I joined a small group of men and women that meets in the early morning every day. The group is affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous.

I started attending not because I have a problem with alcohol. I don't. But I do have friends who are recovering alcoholics and who often speak of their AA experiences in the most intriguing ways. So I decided to see for myself what they were talking about.

Going online I discovered dozens of nearby gatherings to pick from, available around the clock: noon, dinner time, midnight, or—like the one I chose—6:30 A.M. Each meeting is held in rented or borrowed facilities (AA owns no property), is convened by volunteers (AA pays no one), and is never advertised (AA attracts, never promotes).

When I confided my intention to go to an AA meeting, a few friends had concerns. "What if you meet someone you know?" one asked. "What if you're seen coming out of the meeting? What will people think? Aren't you worried about rumors that Gordon must be ...

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