The story is about a dancer who, towards the end of a 2-week stay as artist in residence in a school in Pennsylvania, visits an old friend from college who is married and has a young son, Eugene, with cystic fibrosis. Like great fiction, it's about much more than this, and Lorrie Moore is a great, particular, funny writer. Do read or listen to it. The first few words will ring a bell with all artists and dancers.
'I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it's the body's reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it's the heart's triumph, the victory speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It's life flipping death the bird.
I make this stuff up. But then I feel the stray voltage of my rented charisma, hear the jerry-rigged authority in my voice, and I, too believe. I'm convinced. The troupe dismantled, the choreography commissions dwindling, my body harder to make limber, to make go, I have come for two weeks - to Pennsylvania Dutch country, as a "Dancer in the Schools".'