Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Kites

There's a reason people tell of each other off by saying "go fly a kite." It's because kites  are pointless. More than pointless, they're an infuriating waste of time. Sure there's a certain magic that comes from seeing a piece of canvas waving at you in a field of clear blue, like some glorious extension of yourself. But that's only if you get the darned thing up in the air in the first place.

When I was a kid one of my sisters purchased me and my brother kites and I took joy in snapping the little plastic pieces together. Later we took them to a park and had a go. I watched as my brother got his to soar majestically, while mine justed bounced along the ground. I tried that kite on a couple other occasions without anymore success.

After the kite got trashed in a move, I tried my hand at making my own. My mother helped me set the frame and glue the newspaper to it. I drew some eyes and a mouth on it and went out into the world to set that baby flying. It didn't happen.

Aw wind, that blessed companion to the kite. And physics, what I hadn't yet learned about it then. I don't feel I need to explain too elaborately. Let us suffice to say that when the force of A is strong enough to yank B from out of C's hand, it will almost invariably land in a large puddle of D. Needless to say I was down another kite. But that would not stop me.

My next kite came in the form of a class project. We were to construct and have a go at flying box kites. Sounded good to me. We teamed up in pairs. I went with my friend Nathan, who would later that year steal a pair of binoculars that I got for my birthday.  He and I worked very hard on it, following the teachers instructions to a T. When the grade came back, we were both proud to have received an 'A.'

The next day instead of science, we all tumbled outside to have a go at flying our box kites. It was here I learned another lesson in physics; without wind a box kite becomes nothing more than a canvas covered crate awaiting execution. My friend ran ahead, I behind, and all at once I let it go. After seeing our results, none of the other students felt the need to have a go and their kites stayed up on a wall in class the rest of the year.

The day I finally had success was miserable. It was a cold, wet Michigan autumn. The air outside was that hazy misting that isn't quite rain. A gusty wind was blowing, putting it just on the other side of frosty. The kind of weather that makes most want to stay inside and wait for the sun to awaken their serotonin levels, but always made me happy. Something about that just bearable climate that I love.

I was outside in our unkempt backyard amongst the grass (mud) and trees (two gnarled bushes begging to be euthanized) playing with a yo-yo when I spied a grocery bag flying about. Genius and amateur inventor that I was, I cut the string off and split the threads for length. I then strung the two together and watched in fantastic wonderment as it sailed high in the wind. I had a lot of fun that day with my flying bag.

And so I've come to the conclusion that kites are an overrated image of childhood joy. Really all they are, is a mess and chore to create; a headache to get going and really nothing more than paper in the sky. Bags on the other hand rock hardcore. Give me a bag on a string and I'll show you what fun is. Never yet been let down by flying bags.

Also I hated that Marry Poppins song.

Kites a spiraling 3 out of 10

Flying Bags a rocktastic 73 out of 9


  1. I haven't flown a kite for sooooo many years. We loved to do that at the beach. For a while it was all the rage with my friends - like in the '90s they were doing it.

    Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

  2. You know why you stopped? You suddenly saw through all the bull.
    Kites suck! lol

  3. Well, there is that whole Ben Franklin and his kite thing...



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