Every prayer group meeting starts precisely the same. Men in shirtsleeves rolled to their elbows (when the temperature rises above seventy), or wool sweaters politely folded back against their wrists carry crockpots while the women walk behind in a single line, carrying lighter plates. They place the dishes down delicately and then slowly backstep away as if the food might suddenly demand their penance or refuse to participate in the weekly meeting. There is reverence in their counterfeit kowtowing (low and slow) as each woman tries her best not to bump into the other. The hot dishes become veiled in regency.