“Good evening, Group. I’m Sue, and I’m the facilitator for our Ten-Steps Anomaly Group. We have two newcomers tonight. Group, let’s welcome Harry and Joan.” Sue raised her arms like a maestro conducting an orchestra, and everyone said in unison, “Welcome, Harry and Joan.”
Harry shifted nervously as he waved his hand in the air.
“Yes, Harry.” Sue nodded.
“Uh, I didn’t join. I just brought Joan. She’s the one with the problem.”
Joan uttered, “Phsst!” and folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t have a problem.”
Sue frowned, raising her maestro-arms again, and said, “Group.”
“The first step to recovery is admitting we have a problem,” they responded in unison.
“Decorating for Christmas is not a problem,” Joan blurted out.
“Excessive, obsessive decorating is,” Harry said, glaring at his wife.
“Joan and Harry, we’re getting off track.” Sue flashed a patronizing smile at the couple. “Let’s begin by introducing ourselves. Diane, we’ll start with you.”
“Hi. My name is Diane, and I collect shoes. I have over three thousand pairs. By the way, Joan, your suede boots are adorable.”
“Diane, please, you’re regressing,” Sue admonished. The rest of the group said their names and their problems, which included a shopaholic, a man who had an obsession with professional sports, a woman’s fetish for the color blue (she was clothed in blue, including blue hair), a man who couldn’t stop playing with his ears, a continual giggler, and a man who loved gas pumps. “I hug them, and talk to them,” he said with a grin. “They’re beautiful.”
One woman was a compulsive housecleaner. “From sun-up to sundown,” she said. Another woman took a bath in diet soda every day.
Harry’s eyes widened with each introduction, not out of alarm, but because no one seemed anywhere near recovery. Their eyes sparkled with pleasure as they shared their problems. He wondered how far along on the ten steps they were.
When it was Joan’s turn, she clamped her lips tightly together. “Joan, would you like to share your problem with Group?” Sue asked, as everyone leaned forward, eyes turned expectantly on Joan.
“I. Don’t. Have. A. Problem.” Joan growled. “I love Christmas. I love decorating. That’s not a problem.”
“It is when you insist we wear Santa suits to bed, and you dress our dogs as elves. When I sit on the toilet seat, Burl Ives belts out ‘A Holly, Jolly Christmas.’ I can’t sleep because our bedroom has strands of twinkling snowmen triggered by motion. My snoring sets off the sound detector on the nativity set and shepherds start singing ‘What Child Is This?’ I walk in the door and it triggers a singing Christmas tree, Santa shouting, ‘Ho ho ho,’ and carolers robustly singing. It’s driving me crazy, Joan.” Harry exhaled with a whoosh, and was dismayed to see Group beaming at Joan like she’d discovered a cure for cancer.
“Wow, amazing,” someone said in admiration.
Harry groaned and dropped his head into his hand.
“Um, well, now, let’s discuss something else, shall we?” Sue’s brow furrowed in consternation. Brightening, she smiled and said, “Well, on behalf of Joan and Harry, I would like to offer our Ten-Step book tonight for half price.”
“I’ll take twenty,” the shopaholic blurted out.
Harry’s mouth dropped open when Sue bagged twenty books and handed it to the shopaholic.
“Joan, perhaps you’d like to share now,” Sue suggested.
That’s all it took. Joan glowed as she described room by room décor, and every inch of outdoor decorations. The group was all smiles, ears attuned to every word.
“They’re having a sale on Christmas decorations at Darry’s,” the shopaholic said. “We could shop, and do lunch, Joan.”
“Do you decorate in blue at all? I do! Even my tree is blue.”
“You know, they make ornaments for all kinds of sports.”
“What’s with those unattractive black boots Santa wears? I’m thinking an Italian loafer in a red alligator. Wouldn’t that be lovely?”
Harry couldn’t believe it as each member gave suggestions to Joan.
“Santa has such divine ears,” Ear-Fellow said, stroking his own ears.
“Do you need help cleaning your house, Joan? Because I could totally help you, I promise.”
“All that decorating! Ugh, I would need several diet soda baths.”
“Gas pumps dressed like Santa. Wouldn’t that be breathtaking?”
The giggler was rolling on the floor with laughter. When Sue said, “Perhaps we could have our next meeting at your house, Joan,” Harry threw his hands in the air and walked out.
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