Anonymous Tip: You Are the Worst, Peter

Anonymous Tip: You Are the Worst, Peter July 15, 2016

A Review Series of Anonymous Tip, by Michael Farris

Pp. 328-331

Labor Day has arrived, which means it’s time for Peter’s annual party.

Every year on Labor Day, Peter hosted a barbecue at his home on Liberty Lake. Over fifty people were invited to this year’s event for an afternoon of swimming, boating, and, of course, eating.

Farris tells us that Peter “wasn’t much of a cook.” This likely helps cement Peter’s manly man status in Farris’s eyes—real men are only capable of grilling, which is just what Peter is going to do, of course. What’s weird is that Peter doesn’t let any of his guests bring the other dishes—salad, or deserts, or what have you. Instead, he bought everything else “from Rosauer’s deli section.” I’m not entirely sure why, and late run the passage, one of his guests chides him for not letting them help out with the food, but Peter objects. “Oh, we’ve been through all that before,” he says. “Just go and have fun.” Okay then, but where I come from, it’s typical to ask everyone to pitch in for a party of this sort.

But we all know the really important question—did Peter invite Gwen to this party? By rights, he shouldn’t. First, he has crossed a hell of a lot of ethical boundaries as both Gwen’s lawyer and her potential suitor. Second, he told Gwen he was going to keep his distance and not pursue her while deciding for sure whether he believes marrying a divorced woman is biblical. By both standard ethical rules and his own rules, Peter should not invite her to his party. But come on. We all know he did anyway.

Aaron is there, of course, and he and Peter have a chat about Gwen and her case. Peter updates Aaron on how the case is going—summer schedules have cut down on their meeting time, so they haven’t seen each other in a while—and thanks Aaron again for discovering the computer tampering. But Aaron says what he really wants to know about is “the personal side” of things. He wants to know how things are between Peter and Gwen.

“Reasonably well. I told her a little too much one time, but by the end of the conversation I made ac commitment to her that I would keep an appropriate distance while I seek the Lord on this whole issue. I have given myself until the end of October. If God doesn’t make something clear by then, I am going to come to the occlusion that my original views were God’s leading me, and I am going to stop hoping and wishing—I’ll simply cut things off in my mind.”

And presumably keeping “an appropriate distance” means not inviting Gwen to this party, right? Right?

Peter says he’s been sticking to that commitment “pretty well” and that he’s been praying for Gordon’s salvation and his reconciliation with Gwen. He tells Aaron that Gordon showed up in his office “and told me to keep my hands off his wife” and that “when I tried to witness to him, he freaked out, called me names, and literally ran out of the office.” He says it was “a really strange incident” and I have to admit that I would find it strange if my ex-wife’s lawyer attempted to proselytize me in his office, too. Very strange.

We also learn that the thought still crosses Peter’s mind, sometimes, that it would be simpler if Gordon would just die. Because yes, the belief that you should never marry a divorced person whose ex is still living does indeed lead to wishing people dead.

Then there are kids running into the lake, and chatter about the food, and we learn that as “the crowd slowly trickled in” Peter began to wonder when Gwen would arrive. Because yes, he invited Gwen. And finally, when Peter is nearly done grilling, Gwen arrives, with Casey in tow.

“Sorry, we’re late, Peter. We ran into a little trouble. . . . Gordon showed up and made a scene as we were leaving. Casey mention dot him that we were coming out here when he had visitation on Saturday. He arrived about an hour ago and said he was going to stop us. He is insanely jealous of you, Peter. . . . He thinks we’re involved. And he thinks you are the reason I won’t go back to him. I was really afraid of him. There’s a real change in him. Something strange and uncontrollable has come over him. I’m just glad my dad showed up when he did.”

The next words out of Peter’s mouth should be “you need to get a restraining order.” I mean good god, he’s a lawyer, he knows how these things work! But no. Because of course no.

“I’m really sorry to hear that, Gwen. He showed up at my office a week ago and made a scene with the same basic message. He made it clear that he wanted me to stay away from you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I couldn’t think of a gracious way to bring it up without violating my commitment to you.”

WTF. For serious?

Peter may not realize it, but his unethical behavior just put Gwen’s life in danger. It is possible that Gordon would have been jealous of Peter even if Peter had done nothing more than be Gwen’s lawyer. Gordon seems unstable like that. If Peter had been an ordinary, ethical lawyer and Gordon had come to his office and told him off like he did, Peter would have contacted Gwen immediately to tell him that her ex is exhibiting signs of instability and threatening behavior and that she should get a restraining offer, or at the very least be very careful. But no. Because Peter is unethically involved with Gwen, he doesn’t even tell her, thus putting her at risk from an ex who is clearly becoming increasingly unstable and dangerous.

I can’t even with this. But of course, Gwen accepts Peter’s excuse:

“If he says anything to me again, I’m going to call the police immediately.”

“Good idea. And call me too.”

Gwen gave him a piercing look.

“Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t be offering to be your knight in shining armor.”

“Not unless you can make the offer with a clear conscience.”

And yet, in spite of pushing him here, Gwen also says this:

“I like your spunk, Peter Barron. Don’t you dare stop fighting for me.”

Lovely. Just lovely.

And no one gets a restraining order. No one even mentions a restraining order. Because, as we know, Peter Barron is the worst.

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