Last night we had a pleasant experience mingling and dining with fellow Kern County writers at our annual WOK Banquet. There were only a few members present; some had posted on our clubs Facebook page they regretfully could not attend. Other matters got in the way for them. All I have to say they really missed it. At least for me, it was a night to remember, as it was my first time to attend and I really had no preconceptions of what was going to happen.
The meal was good, the writers brought their spouses who were a welcome site, as up until then I had only known those writers who attended our once a month meetings. To see them complete with family members lent a whole new image for me, as now I could see they were real people with real lives outside the world of our imaginations.
The best part, the piece de resistance, besides the wonderful cupcakes brought in by Dana and made for us by her daughter, was the readings by the authors. It was like an “open mike” session and it was a first for me, if you discount the comedy club. There were about five authors who brought a sample of their work. With courage and resonating voices they stepped up to the microphone and regaled us with stories which amazed us, entertained us, and saddened us. There were vignettes from lives well lived and from remarkable imaginations. Just a glimpse, mind you, as we only had five minutes each, but the stories kept us captivated for that brief time and will more then likely remain in our collective memories forever.
There was a story about a cookie maker who defied conventional wisdom to make magical cookies for his ardent fans in spite of an efficiency manager who wanted him to be more productive at the cost of individuality. A story with metaphorical implications no doubt. There was a glimpse into a mother’s reluctance to see her little girl grow up and take that first step into the rest of the world and out of her protective nest. First day of school. And the author likened it to letting a helium balloon string slip out of her fingers. A powerful image and allegory. There was a story of a futuristic dystopian society where individuality was not condoned yet one person rebelled against it to fulfill his dreams of riding a fast motorcycle through a forest even though to be caught doing so might mean imprisonment or worse. Two other writers told us stories of the loss of loved ones and how much they missed them and how it was hard to live without them. One writer likened it to the pruning of flowers. Another writer told a story of how he wanted to teach his wife to drive his vintage corvette in spite of the fact it was a stick shift. It had a hilarious ending as his wife informed him it was her turn to teach him how to prepare a meal in her kitchen. Some stories made us laugh and there were many in the crowd dabbing at their eyes when tears flowed at the more poignant ones.
My wife and I could not stop talking about how much we enjoyed the whole experience of the writers of Kern banquet on our drive home. It was a magical night and we are looking forward to next year’s Writers of Kern (WOK) Banquet. Thank you to all who had a part in organizing this one and making it so memorable.