Box Kites Never Fly

Rick Ryckeley's picture

In springtime, flowers push up from the ground and explode into color, and baby blue tail lizards try to scamper away from the grasp of excited, barefoot little boys. The fine yellow mist of pollen coats everything while big black bumble bees hover lazily, watching as you work out in the yard and daring you to reach out and swat them with the little souvenir baseball bat bought at the Braves game last fall. And it’s kite-flying time.

My birthday is next week. Growing up, I thought it was cool my birthday always fell on spring break. What wasn’t so cool was I had to share my birthday every year with Mark just because he was my twin.

When you have a twin brother, you do things differently than if you just had a brother in the room down the hall. Take, for instance, how we woke each other up on our birthday. Each year, whoever woke up first started the pillow fight. When we turned eight, I woke up first and attacked Mark. Feathers soon covered the bed, Mark, and the floor. ‘Bout that time Mom walked in to see what all the noise was.

She took one look and said, “Boys!”

“But Mom….”

“No buts. Clean up this room right now. Your birthday breakfast is ready.”

Pancakes, bacon and hot maple syrup in the morning are a great way to start your 8th birthday. A whooping from your Dad at bedtime is a bad way to end it. All because of that darn paper kite.

No matter what day of the week our birthday was, we always had a party to celebrate. We always invited all the guys from the neighborhood. Well, everybody except one - Down the Street Bully Brad. We never invited him to anything. Looking back, maybe that’s one of the reason he was such a bully.

Our birthday had fallen on a Saturday, and Neighbor Thomas was going to have a pool party at his house. Their new diving board had just been installed replacing the one that Bubba Hanks broke the year before when he did his famous double-jump cannonball dive. Since the mighty crack of the diving board, Bubba had been on double-jump restriction by Mrs. Thomas. The swim party wasn’t how we got into trouble though. It was that darn paper kite.

The party was from noon to three. At two, Mr. Thomas grilled out hot dogs and hamburgers, and afterwards, we opened presents. Mom and Dad learned long ago with twins you simply give them the same presents. It cuts down on the fighting. At least that’s what they thought. We just found other things to fight about.

That year, Mark and I got new bikes, perfect for jumping over Cripple Creek. We got some toy called a Frisbee we thought we’d never use. We each had armies of green plastic army men that we decided to save and use at the great dirt clod war we were going to have the next weekend. And two paper kites, which were ready to fly. All we need was a tail and some wind.

We knew Mom would get mad if we cut up a sheet or a tee shirt for a tail. Socks were too heavy, but Dad was at work, and he had a whole closet full of ties. All we needed were six: three for Mark’s kite and three for mine. We snuck into Dad’s closet, grabbed the ties and ran out the back door before Mom heard us. We tied the ties to the end of the kites, and up they went on a big gust of wind.

The ties worked great for tails, and soon our kites were so high we both ran out of string. Thomas and Goof ran home and brought back all the kite string they had. We added it to the end of ours and let it out slowly. Both kites were now about the size of stamps. We ran out of string again so Preston Weston called home and asked his mom to buy ten rolls at the store and bring them over. By six that evening we had the entire neighborhood watching Mark and me flying kites. They flew so high they disappeared from sight!

Mom called us in for dinner and Mark started to reel in his kite. When he had a ball of string the size of a softball, the string broke! He helped me reel in mine, and right when we could barely see the kite, my string broke too! No kites. No ties, but later that evening - one mad Dad. When he asked what had happened to all of his ties, we told him, “Two airplanes ran into them and took them away, but you can have this big ball of string instead.” That’s when Dad took off his belt.

Next year Goofy Steve said he’d give us a box kite for our birthday. He said it didn’t need a tail. A kite that doesn’t need a tail…sounds like it would be easier to fly, but it wasn’t. For three summers Goof bought me a box kite for my birthday and we tried to fly it. It never flew. All it did was bounce behind me as I ran holding onto the string.

The Wife and I are going to Florida for spring break - it’s my birthday again. She bought me a box kite. I’ll let you know if it flies or just bounces behind me as I run on the beach.

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