Monday, November 1, 2010

Diseases Induced by Dancing Early in Life by Mary Long

The support group was a front, of course. Chip loved cookies but was terrified of turning on the oven. He liked other men, but was afraid of leaving the house. By putting out the support group ad, both came to him, each week, free of charge. It was a credit to his internet friend Sal for thinking it up. Sal abused many legitimate support groups. The one he attended most often was Cutters Anonymous, because he really dug seeing other peoples’ scars. The ones he had he’d gotten from his step dad, or so he told Chip, but people believed him when he told them they were self-inflicted. Sal’s favorite anonymous cutter was a girl whose problem had led her to cover almost every inch of her body with tiny, razor fine lines (“Even her mutherficking eyelidz, man,” Sal had typed). Chip shuddered at the thought. No one who came to his group had anything quite so obvious.

When he’d first put the ad into the Community/Groups section on Craigslist, he didn’t expect anything to happen: nothing did when he made up Missed Connections stories. However, within the first day, he’d received three responses:
>>Dear Chip,
I believe I fit the requeerment, ha ha for your group. I cant believe there is such a thing but it makes so much sense to me now that i have a name for it. Could you plz let me know when your next meeting time is thanks,
Sid brought snickerdoodle cookies that he made from his mother’s own recipe. He usually baked them for too long or forgot to take them off the baking sheet soon enough, so that they turned out crispy instead of soft, but with coffee, they were all right. Sid wasn’t exactly a looker, but he smelled like Dial soap and his nails were clean, so Chip felt pretty confident about eating his cookies. Sid was sure it was doing the funky chicken with his dad to “Doo Wa Ditty” that had done him in. He’d demonstrated the dance once and the group agreed that it couldn’t have helped.
I think maybe you are crazy, but I’d like to learn more. Please call me.

Dan made different kinds of cookies, but they always had silver dragées on them. Chip worried about the metal content of the decorations, but he ate the cookies anyway. The dragées were to Dan what the nicotine patch was for a smoker who was trying to quit but still snuck cigarettes in between patches. Dan had Pica, and had a particular fondness for BBs and 16 gauge body jewelry ball fasteners. Dan’s single cop mother had worked late and worked often, so he’d spent the majority of his childhood with his babysitter Grace rockin’ out to The Bangles and Cyndi Lauper. Every other week or so his mom would take him to the shooting range with her, and he’d wish to be home with Grace. He and his mom stopped going to the shooting range after he ate a box of bullets in one sitting.

I used to dance with my uncle on his feet, you know how kids do? Anyway, that made me really think my uncle was a fun guy and trust him and think he was great but then it turned out he wasn’t so great, you know? Anyway, I’d like to come to your group please let me know ASap because my therapist is really expensive and I think groups are always better, plus I live in your neighborhood already and my therapist is all the way across town.
Chip made sure to order in extra napkins for the week that Kirk was bringing the goods. Kirk was like his baked goods: gooey and a little sticky. He usually brought brownies or blondies or lemon bars. Even though Kirk was kind of, well, profuse about things, he was still a great dancer, and Chip dug the way he shook his hips to Scissor Sisters, among other things. Sometimes Kirk would stick around after the others left and let Chip lick his fingers clean. Kirk was really happy to not have to pay for therapy anymore.

Others joined the group, and some left, but the first three were its foundation. They were the believers. When the group dwindled back down to the four of them, Chip reposted the original ad and hoped for new faces, new tastes.

Support Group for those who suffer from diseases induced by dancing early in life

>>Potential friends:
My name is Chip. As a child, my mother put me into ballet classes. For years, I did not connect this with my current afflictions. I have agoraphobia, among other often debilitating personal issues. I recently made the connection between my experiences with dance and the problems that plague me today. I could be wrong, but I think there may be others like me. If you agree, or are curious, please email me. I would like to host meetings in my Normal Flats home (agoraphobic), and can provide alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (I work from home as a consultant to a beverage distributer). It would be wonderful if new group members brought baked goods, as I am fond of them but am quite scared of using my oven. I think together we can discover how our current problems can connect back to the youthful twinkling of our toes.

Usually, thankfully, it was only men that answered. When women did come, they generally left the group fairly quickly. Sometimes Chip referred them to the support group that Sal attended that most closely seemed to match their particular affliction.

At a Halloween party at age 6, Mary Long did the Running Man in a homemade skeleton costume for most of the night. If she doesn't finish something on time, or tries to make out with your sister, just blame it on MC Hammer.


  1. And once again, Mary has made it painfully obvious to everyone, if not herself, that she should be writing more short stories. Seriously, one of the best stories I've read in a long (ha!) while.

  2. Nice to read a Horatio Alger success story like this. One where the hero gets everything he wants and what better fate can there be than to build a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man? Had me from the first line. Cool!