A small story:

I loved ballet.

I loved the precision, the quiet, the discipline, the chasing after a Platonic ideal of a line, a movement, the feeling of flight, of speed. I loved the wardrobe and oh, did I love pointe shoes.

Ballet tolerated me.
At its heart dance is a sport * and, like all sports, there are certain people more physically-suited to the sport than other. I wasn't designed for ballet.

* At its heart, ballet began as a way for French aristocrats to look at lady-legs and pick out their new mistress.
Even though I was small, I was the wrong kind of small; the perfect ballet dancer should have a smaller head, very long limbs and very bendy feet.

If spiders could pirouette, Balanchine would have married three of them.
I was too muscular; teachers kept asking me if I had ever considered modern dance which is ballet teacher for "Why aren't you more spider?"

Eventually, the unrequited love faded - because I'm neurotic but not that kind of neurotic - and I quit ballet.
16 years later, I gave birth to someone whose pediatrician noted her long limbs at her one-week checkup. She continued to grow, to lengthen; I began to see glimpses of arachnid. I smiled in quiet pleasure and started playing Chopin at night, so as to prepare her for barre work.
If you had asked me when I signed her up for her first class, "Quinn, are you already planning your outfit for her first night with NYCB?" I would have passed a lie-detector test; I didn't want her to be a dancer for a living.
It's a brutal, tenuous life, that of a dancer. All the instability of a freelance writer but imagine if I might suddenly break a finger writing and have to retire. I knew dancers who had to have hip-replacements before 40. I didn't want that for her.
I just wanted someone with some of my genes to accomplish something I could not. My child with the vast reserves of energy and the four inches of leg sticking out of her pants looked like a good bet to undo those modern-dance suggestions.
She liked the first level of class well enough, I class I believe was called "Baby Ballet" but I called "Skipping With Snacks." They had a recital. All children in recitals are adorable but let's be honest, it's a tricky blue and she OWNS it.

She expertly skipped her long legs.
She progressed to the next class where there was less skipping, more fiddly bits where your arms and legs were put in very specific places. I thrilled to seeing my daughter have her spiderlimbs bent towards the diabolical fifth position.

Kid's feelings were more nuanced.
"She forgot to give us goldfish crackers," she reported after class. Choosing to ignore the warning tone I sang out, "Oh, don't worry about that. we can get something to eat now."

I was about to say, "...and talk about ballet," but I caught a glimpse of her tiny, lowered brow.
I quickly learned the cost ballet class was:

Cost of Actual Class + Bag Of Goldfish Crackers For Later + Sighing.

Dear God, the sighing.

Kid came to indicating her displeasure with a situation with a slightly amplified exhale early, often, some might say relentlessly.
Ballet lent itself naturally to the sigh. She'd sigh when I'd ask her to get ready for class, she'd sigh when I told her "Goldfish crackers are for afterwards, she'd sigh in class when reminded to point her toes, the glass viewing window showing me her tiny thoracic implosion.
Doggedly, I kept taking her because damn it, ballet was good for her. Posture! Discipline! A future ability to sew ribbons on your toe shoes during Algebra! Besides, not everything is an immediate love affair; it took me several tries before I got the Negroni.
(I did not use the Negroni example with my six year-old child)
In pursuit of a sigh-free life, I bought us tickets to THE NUTCRACKER. "Who doesn't like shiny things?" I reasoned, "And then she'll see what I see in it." I already had a few ballet-related Christmas ideas lined up.

You know who goes to see THE NUTCRACKER?
Women shepherding girls with their hair pulled back into buns.

Everyone was excited.

No one slouched.

I looked down at Kid to share this moment and found her covertly chewing on the fancy program I had gotten.

"What," I asked, "Are you doing?"

"I dunno," she said.
She then asked, "Why are we here again?"

I mutely pointed to the name on the front of the program, right under her teeth marks.


I chose to believe this was an excited completely neutral tone.

Shiny, pink, candycandycandy, dancing mice, Victorian Christmas, weirdshit.

Kid seemed engaged, applauded, laughed at the British Panto bits. The first act ended, we applauded, the lights came up and she turned to me.

"Can I have a burrito for dinner?"
"May," I corrected automatically, "have a burrito for d-I don't know. Maybe. That isn't until the show is over."

"The show is over," she said, indicating everyone leaving their seats.

"Honey," I said, "That's the first act. We have another act."

"Oh, god," she said, crumpling.
She then wailed, "THERE'S JUST SO MUCH BALLET."

Yeah, we left.

Over a burrito we determined she thought ballet was stupid, slow, baffling. Any defense I made sounded as if I was doing PR for a cult.

Me: The slowness is the point!

Kid: That sounds terrible.
Me: The music is beautiful.

Kid: You never play it in the car.

Me: Later, you get to stand on your toes!

Kid: I can stand on my toes right now.

Then she did, while continuing to eat her burrito, something I daresay Gelsey Kirkland never achieved.
I gave up because she was right. The parts I had wanted for me were stupid and the parts that I wanted for her she'd get other ways. I think about that moment often when someone tells me "We're a lacrosse family" or "My kids dive." Maybe they all want that equally.
Maybe one just really wants to leave at the end of the first act.
And now, THE AD! If you like these Small Stories, can I coax you into helping to support them? I promise to commend you when you shine in a tricky color.

And now, the other ad!

I have a deal for you on
@librofm (libro.fm/redeem/Quinn)

My membership benefits @vromans! Yours could benefit your local indie bookstore! Here are 2 bookseller picks with "Dance" in the title!


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More from @quinncy

21 Oct
A small story:

For a couple of years, Kid swam/water polo’ed/dove. She was never completely dry and the back seat of my car was a shade lighter than the front seat thanks to chlorine.
While all three pool sports shared a venue, the participants were easily categorized. The swim-team kids were the ones shaped like inverted triangles, the water-polo players were covered in bruises and the divers had destroyed hair.

“Didn’t they all?”

Swim team wore caps, water-polo wore caps- at least in part so an opponent didn’t tear off their ears- but divers, did not. The pattern of diving/waiting to dive created greater porosity in the hair, leading to greater damage.
Read 15 tweets
20 Oct
For those who asked, here is the book (feat: Non-janky highlighter) Image
Here is the first page. I will give you no more but lie to me and tell me you don’t want @ElieNYC’s book.

Pre-order it. Image
You have no idea how mad I am at you, @ElieNYC.

Read 20 tweets
19 Oct
A small story:

If pressed, I think the most baffling thing to explain to anyone younger than 25 is how rarely anyone over 45 took a picture.

Well, that and rotary phones.

I imagine myself pulling down a photo album and then stopping to explain a photo album.
Having broken down the idea of "We printed them and then put them in a book and never looked at them unlike now, where they are in your phone and you never look at them," I'd show them an average page.

Birthday or two.



"That's a year," I would say.
They'd possibly push the pictures a few times, thinking that maybe it would open a file of the rest of the 16,000 images of pets, meals and bomb-light pouting which is now how we measure a year.

"Nope," I'd say cheerfully, "The picture were printed, picked up, put in here."
Read 18 tweets
14 Oct
A small story:

"I'm sorry," someone who knows me in three dimensions says apologetically, "I'm not on Twitter."

It's fair for them to assume this will wound me deeply. As I have noted before, "I was on Twitter" will always be my alibi, no matter the day or time.
Anyone who spends as much time as I do on here must like it.


"Good for you!" I say supportively to the non-Twitter person, then add, "And never start. It's a septic tank."

I believe this.

Turns out, I'm that bacteria which has evolved to thrive in septic tanks.
Until this morning, my answer was always, "There is no good reason an emotionally healthy and fully-actualized person should be on Twitter. The Nazis alone are reason enough. Also, no edit button."

This morning, I received a text from a friend's son, newly in this tank.
Read 10 tweets
13 Oct
A small story:

As anyone who has followed me for a while knows, my volunteering energy goes a bunch of places but I put the bulk of it towards @SanteDOr, a tiny, nearly all-volunteer rescue, based in a single storefront in Atwater Village.

Don't let the size fool you.
In the last twenty years, they have saved and placed thousands of cats, some dogs, a few very confused rabbits and one very alarmed hamster. During the pandemic, they redoubled their TNR efforts because a lot of groups were overwhelmed.

They are good people.

Stuff gets done.
More to the point, animals get second chances. Frequently during a Trap/Neuter/Release program in a feral cat colony a volunteer will realize a "Feral" cat is frantically purring and curling around their hands, desperate for safety and care again.
Read 25 tweets
12 Oct
A small story:

"I LIKE this dress!" Consort says appreciatively. I nod in agreement; it's very flattering, clever enough to keep me from yelling about who would pay over $700 for this dress. I mean, I wouldn't but I respect that someone with near-infinite resources would.
I swish around so the dress can have a moment and Consort says happily, "I'm glad you're enjoying this experiment."

I stop mid-swish.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," I say, then add, "I mean, it's fine. It's a good writing prompt."

Even the best couples have unbridgeable chasms.
I think of Consort's temperament as the byproduct of his Mediterranean ancestors, a man capable of great pleasure merely by being surrounded by the things in this world which matter to him. A great red wine being drunk with lifelong friends on a lakeside porch?

Read 16 tweets

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