The random musings of Kate Grace
*Photo by Dave Hill
I’m at Go Comedy! Improv Theater today as I am at least once or twice during the day each week. Just making the time pass by helping out answering phones and designing flyers (or more often drinking coffee and chatting it up with the incredible Pj Jacokes).
Like any other day, both Pj and I are tucked in at either end of the bar with our laptops at our fingertips. (In a few hours the positions won’t change much, but pints of Detroit Dwarf will replace the laptops.) But unlike any other day, today Iman (pronounced ee-mon) called and time traveled me back to 1995.
At first she was a little embarrassed asking how old a person had to be to perform here, but eventually loosened up as I explained the classes offered by the theater for various age groups and the upcoming youth program launching in the Fall.
“I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m 15 and I want to be a performer or a stand up when I grow up, but my Mom wants me to be a lawyer,” said Iman.
“All of our parents wanted us to be lawyers, hon. You’re in good company,” I said.
“I’m gonna be more honest with you,” she said. “I’m pretty much a nerd.”
“Yup,” I said. “We all were too.”
“My name is spelled I-M-A-N… ‘I Man’…”
“My last name in high school was ‘Bacheller’ (bachelor). Four years of being called a Single Guy,” I said.
“Yeah… I just don’t think my Mom is gonna want me hanging out with comedians.”
“Has your Mom ever actually met lawyers?!”
Iman and I spoke for a good five or ten minutes as Pj listened in closely adding in his own agreements and words of encouragement to Iman. By the end of the conversation we had encouraged Iman enough to at least sit down with her Mom and talk about her interest in comedy and performing. Pj (as the kind-hearted rockstar he is!) offered to not only give Iman and her Mom two tickets to come and see the theater and a show, but offered to sit down with Mom and explain to her the many benefits of performing and improv, specifically.
Self Confidence. Team Building. Listening. Focus. Awareness. Self Expression. Problem Solving. (To name a few.)
When I was 15, I was the artsy nerd. The “Laney Boggs” without a Freddie Prince Jr. to come and give me a social makeover. But I was lucky enough to attend a public school that housed a private creative and performing arts program. Two hours a day were spent in classes focusing on performance art, visual art, music, literature, etc. And all of this WITH my parents’ blessing.
But then came college application time and the line was drawn in the sand, specifically by my Dad. As an adult now I can appreciate that he was coming from a place of good intentions for me, only wanting the best for me – a secure future with as little risk as possible.
So as my acceptance letter to Columbia College Chicago (Liberal Arts, Major in Photography and Creative Writing) laid in front of me on the kitchen table, my acceptance letter to U of M Dearborn (Major in Education, becoming a teacher, meeting a nice man, marrying a nice man, having two kids and owning a dog named Rover or a Silver Landrover) laid in front of him.
A tumbleweed blew across the kitchen table. (Not really, but that would have been awesome.)
Tired of arguing about it, I took that damn admissions exam at U of M Dearborn… well, half of it. I grew a set somewhere midway through the exam, got up and walked out. Then I had a friend drive me to Chicago and leave me there, basically. I called my Dad to let him know I wouldn’t be home for dinner.
That’s pretty condensed, but that’s roughly how it went. Looking back on it now I can’t believe what I must have been putting my parents through. But in my gut, I knew who I was and I knew my parents were going to love me no matter who I became. And luckily, due to the risky choices I made, I’ve become someone I love too.
And THAT can’t be found in a U of M Dearborn lecture hall or any deposition room across the country.
“I’ll try, but I think my Mom’s gonna kill me,” said Iman.
“I don’t think she will. It’s worth a try. Consider it taking that next step towards becoming who you’re meant to be,” I said (despite the ‘Are you being serious right now, Lifetime Movie of the Week?’ look Pj shot at me).
“Yeah,” she said.
“Tell her to tell her Mom lawyers take the classes too,” said Pj.
“Iman, Pj told me to tell you to tell your Mom that lawyers take our…”
So good luck, Iman! We really do hope to be seeing you soon.