A brave participant reads the story “Foodland.” Photo courtesy of Dan Misener.
It was as if the crowd were gathering for the show of a famous stand-up comedian. Featured up at the mike, however, were the dramatic realizations, the rampant hormones, the missteps, triumphs, and wounds of childhood preserved fresh in writing.
The seventh edition of “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids”—or GRTTWaK— on Tuesday night showed signs of outgrowing its venue at the Tranzac. Started way back in early 2007 at the Victory Cafe, and outgrowing that venue within the first few months, “Grownups” is the brainchild of Dan Misener, CBC Radio Producer, and his wife Jenna. Since the first show, the idea of bearing one’s ten, thirteen, or fifteen-year-old soul has caught on, inspiring sequels in Picton, Ottawa, and Montreal.
Before inviting the first reader up on stage, Misener went over the rules for participation: the reader must be the one who wrote the piece, and the piece must be under five minutes long.
The crowd was treated to a twelve-year old’s rules for flirting, and a younger kid’s Father’s Day message/guilt trip for being away so much; other highlights included a very articulate seven-year-old’s cautionary tale of a greedy boy named Alomar, and another girl’s imagination of what it would be like to be from the rough streets of the Bronx rather than Whitby circa 1991. Such earnest yearnings surely make good fodder for laughs when you’ve lost enough of your innocence to recognize when it was there in spades and how cute it was. However, one reader presented a different aspect of this revisitation of her childhood’s work: In the introduction to her reading, of a short news article she had written at summer camp, she acknowledged how hard it must have been to do this then, explaining that she had been “painfully shy” as a girl and had had to endure interviewing several people for the story.
Not only is “Grownups,” thus, an exhibition of the works of cheeky kids, standing before us as adults who (supposedly) can now tie their shoelaces and spell the word “congratulations,” it is also a celebration of little victories that might have been forgotten long ago.