So let's say I wanted to have a dinner, or a "last supper", with 12 of my closest friends.

My very first thought - do I even have 12 close friends?

Well, that might be a stretch...

For the benefits of this story, let's assume I do have 12 friends. How would that dinner go?

First, of course, I'd have to invite those 12 friends.

It's April 1, 2022, so I guess I send out a group text:

"Hey, guys, it's Joe Kelly! Long time no talk, right? Hey, I would really like to get together with you and the guys for a nice dinner. I'm looking at April 30 in Atlantic City, at 6pm. Let me know if you can make it!"

I push send.

Withing moments, I get these responses on the group text:

"Sounds great!"

"Count me in!"

"That's awesome!"

"Can't wait"

Plus several more just like it. Two hours after I sent the text, I received 9 responses and so far, so good - it looks like everybody's in.

Uh oh, I get a bounce-back response. Apparently 2 of the recipients' numbers no longer work. Ugh. Also, no response from #10.

The next day, April 2, I hunt down the email addresses of the two bad phone numbers - #11 and #12. I send them emails almost identical to the text invitation I sent. #11 responds that he's in, almost immediately.

2 hours later, the email to #12 comes back: "no such email exists." Ugh.

April 3, I track down #12 at his work. Well, former work - he's no longer there. Strike again.

That same day, I send another text to #10: "Hey, wanted to make sure you got my text about dinner on the 30th - you in?"

No response.

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So, recapping, on April 4, I have 10 yeses and 1 missing-in-action, and 1 no response.

On April 5, I track down #12s brother on Facebook and send him a direct message: "Trying to locate your brother - do you have a way I can reach him?"  No response. I can see he read my message, but he doesn't respond.

Still nothing from #10.

Jump ahead one week later to April 12. No new responses. I happen to be in Cape May where #10 lives, so I stop by his house and ring the bell.

He's home, answers the door and greets me with a handshake and hug. I ask him about the dinner on the 30th.

"Oh, yeah, man, I told you I was going!"

Actually he didn't - he never responded - but, I don't say anything and let it go.

"OK, great", I say, "Just double checking."

So  - forward to April 16: dinner in two weeks, I have 11 yeses and 1 still M.I.A.

I call and make a reservation at the restaurant - and they even give us a private room. Sweet!

The next week goes by quickly, and we're up to April 23 - the dinner is one week away.

As a stroke of luck, I run into missing #12s mother at the grocery store. I ask about her son. She tells me #12 is away but he'll be at her house on Monday, she'll tell him to call me.

Great, this is looking good!

Monday, rolls around and we're 5 days away from the big dinner - it's Saturday night.

Sure enough, #12 calls me Monday afternoon! Apparently, he's been in jail(!) and just got out. Something about a fight with his ex-wife's new boyfriend a few months back. He says he'll be at the dinner.

Monday night - we are 12 for 12, baby!  I send out a reminder text to everyone:

"Reminder: Dinner Saturday Night 7pm, Atlantic City!"

Uh, oh, spoke too soon.

Tuesday morning I get a text from #1.

"Hey, man. Saturday night, I'm really looking forward to it. I have a favor, though, can you seat me not near to #12? We got into a big thing a couple months ago, and we aren't getting along right now."

Wait! #1 and #12's ex-wife? Ugh!

"All right", I tell him. "Just be there and we'll keep you guys apart, Thanks!"

Tuesday afternoon, about 3:00. I get a call from #2. He's now living in Texas, if I didn't know. (I didn't know.) He's flying in Saturday morning, but needs a place to stay. I tell him he can crash on my couch for the night, as he's leaving the next day. It's only one night.

It's now Wednesday, four days away from the big dinner!

11am: I get a text from #3. Apparently he's got his kids for the weekend and his ex-wife is out of town.

"Is it OK if I bring my two kids? I don't have anyone to watch them?"

Ugh. I tell him that the dinner is really just a "guy thing" - no kids. He promises to find a sitter.

Wednesday 2pm: A text from #4:

"Hey, Joe, my wife wanted me to ask what time you think we'll actually eat on Saturday. I know it's 6pm, but what time do you think we'll actually be served? She's got to take a pill exactly an hour before she eats."

Wait. What?

I look back at the original group text: nope, no mention of spouses or guests. I text him back, "Hey, #4, the dinner is a guy thing only - no women."

He doesn't respond.. Jeez.....

Thursday morning, 10:30am, I get a call from #5's wife:

"Hey, Joe, about this dinner Saturday, what kind of food are you serving? #5 is having a cholesterol problem and he really needs to watch what he eats."

What? I mean it's a restaurant. They have a menu. Can't he pick something he can safely eat on his own? (I don't say this to her, but I think it!)

Finally I tell her that I'll watch what he orders and keep tabs on him. (I'm rolling my eyes the whole time.)

Thursday night 7:30pm: I get a text from #6:

"Joe Joe! Where's the dinner Friday night? You never told us."

I reply that the dinner is actually Saturday and I remind him of the place and time. He says "See you there."

Friday morning, a text from #2 - who you remember is now in Texas and is flying in Saturday morning, and sleeping on our couch Saturday night. Can I pick him up at the airport - in Philly at 11:30am Saturday. Ugh. Yes, I tell him, yes.

Saturday, 8am, my phone dings. It's #6, wanting to know how expensive the restaurant is, because he's a little short this month and doesn't know if he can afford it. No problem, I tell him, I'm paying for all.

Saturday, 10:30am, on my way to the airport to pick up #2 and the phone rings. It's the wife of #7. She's calling just to check and make sure there's actually a dinner tonight. She says she thought her husband was lying because she thought she was going out with some "trash-whore."

WTF?

So, I get to the airport and wait in the cell phone waiting parking area for #2's flight. My phone rings. It's the wife of #8.

"I don't know if you know this or not, #8 just stopped drinking. He's been going to AA. Will there be alcohol there tonight?"

I roll my eyes. "Yes, there will be, but just some wine with dinner. I'll make sure #8 doesn't get any."

Wow, I am now responsible for 12 human lives!

Finally I get a text from #2, and I drive up and pick him up. Wait. Who's that with him?

It's his girlfriend - she came too! Isn't that nice......

I quickly text my wife and tell her to get the sewing room/guest room ready. She quickly responds with a bunch of emojis.

We head home from the airport - the three of us - not mentioning the whole time that SHE is with him. (SHE, by the way, has a big mouth and is kind of rude....)

So, we get to my house, and we go in and are greeted by my wife. Commence the eye rolling from her.

I ask #2 to step outside with me and ask him about his girlfriend.

"Isn't she great?"

"Well, of course, but this dinner - it's just the guys."

"Oh, I know, she's just going to hitch a ride with us. She's a poker player, so she's going to play in a tournament while we're at dinner."

"OK....."

So, fast forward to 5pm, it's time to head to Atlantic City. I kiss my wife goodbye and the three of us jump in the car. The three of us.

How's my anxiety level right now?

Ugh.

Anyway, we get there, park and walk into the restaurant. (SHE jumps in a cab and head for the casino.)

Well, that's one worry gone.

So, #2 and I walk into the restaurant and they take us back to our private room. There we are greeted by #1 - and #12 on the opposite side of the room, each standing along. (You remember these are the guys who fought over the ex-wife, with one going to jail.) At least they're not fighting now!

It's quarter to six and there are four of us there, and I find myself checking my phone for calls, texts, and watching the time.

I look up and here's #1! Woohoo! Wait. He brought his wife.

"Hey, I hope it's OK, Jamie came with me. She was bored and I said you wouldn't mind."

"Oh", I say, "Well ----"

I freeze my sentence as #3 walks in, with his two preschoolers in tow.

"Sorry, man" he says as he shakes my hand. "No sitter, but they'll be good, you won't even know they're here!"

I nod, and check my phone. It's a regret text from #4. And  #5.

Ugh. Just then, #6 walks in - with his father.

"You said it was a guy's night, so I brought my dad - hope it's OK!"

I smile.

I'm still smiling that crooked smile when the girlfriend of #2 walks in. She tells #2 in a loud voice that she got screwed over by four of a kind in the first hand and she's out of the poker tournament.

Wow. The more the merrier.

Hey look, #8 just walked in. Waddled in is more like it. I think he fell off the wagon.

"Joey!"

Yep, so much for AA.

So, it's now 6:15. Let's take roll:

#8 is here, so is #2 and his girlfriend, #6 is here, with his father. #3 is here - with his two little kids. #11 and #12 are here - got to keep them apart.

Finally, #1 is here with his wife.

That's 12!

The rest of the guys - they never showed up.

Dinner is served! (with some chicken nuggets, too!)

It must have been easier 2000 years ago.

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