Along with the ham radio crap and all the 78’s my father left behind after my parents’ divorce, the old man had a canvas box kite stashed in the basement of my boyhood home. I should mention that back in those days, every kid flew a kite. The folks would buy virtually every young boy a stupid paper deal and then father and son would attach it to a spool of string and fly it maybe 100 feet in the air. Big fucking whoop! So in keeping with being the coolest dad on the block, our father trumped everybody by whipping out the old box kite and really lettin’ the bad boy fly. Now that was flyin’ a kite!
So after Popsicle split, the box kite remained and one day when I was 13 or so, I got the brilliant idea to attach the kite to a fishing rod with like a mile of line on the reel and fly the bad boy out of sight! In theory, this is a really cool idea. But somehow the entire scheme went into the crapper.
Phase 1 of this disaster took place at 9 AM one Saturday morning at Floyd Bennett’s, a big department store at Green Acres Mall. I’d chosen Warren Witt as my partner on this venture and we hopped our bikes to go purchase a big ass spool of fishing line to accomplish our mission. (I already had the rod but there wasn’t enough line on the reel.) So my homey stayed with the bikes and I went in and bought the fishing line. But upon returning, I discovered that some of the line was missing from the spool. Simple enough. I went right back in the store to swap the item for a fresh one but found nobody behind the register to make the exchange (the store had just opened and there was almost nobody shopping at the time). So I made the swap myself and headed back out only to be apprehended by a security guard who’d seen the second part of the exchange – but not the first – and thought he’d caught a kid stealing.
This was an unfortunate circumstance that could be explained by the receipt on the bag. Not! For some reason that I didn’t understand then – but do now – the receipt did not match what was in the bag (WTF)! But I wasn’t about to go down for a crime I didn’t commit so I insisted that we find the clerk who sold me the line. She would surely explain that I’d just bought the fishing line. And of course, when we found the scum belle, she had absolutely no recollection of selling me anything just five minutes before. I couldn’t believe it! How the fuck could she forget a 13 year-old kid who’d just made a purchase in a totally empty store?
Undaunted, I told the guard I wanted to see the manager, who pored over the receipt – and the situation – and finally gave me the fishing line and said something like “Don’t ever come back in this fucking store again!” It was years later when I finally realized that the sales girl had actually stapled a receipt that was lying around on my bag and stolen the two dollars I paid for the fishing line. And that’s why she had no recollection of me making the purchase. If the douchebag had, it would have been tantamount to admitting that she was stealing from her employer. Golly! What could be lower than framing a kid for your theft?
Well…phase 1 came to completion without me getting carted off to jail, and Warren and I rode home to put the line on the reel. And soon enough, we were out in the vast expanse that the schoolyard of Lynbrook South Junior High School surely was! We had acres of empty ball field to roam and there was absolutely no chance the kite could get caught up in anything! This was gonna be epic. We were gonna fly this mother fucker completely out of sight! In the absence of daddy buying his 13 year old son a session with the local you-know-what, this would be the biggest thrill ever!
But there was an unanticipated problem. We’d chosen a windy day for our foray into the stratoshpere. Up in the air went the box kite beautifully and we were in business big time. But soon enough, Warren looked like he was fighting a marlin. The line started zinging with my buddy struggling to control the pool fish. But it was hopeless. It tore the skin off his thumb and then BANG! The fish broke the line and way before the kite was out of sight, the caper was over! I thought that 20 pound test would be strong enough but clearly, it wasn’t!
God knows where the kite landed. No use even trying to track it down. It probably floated back to earth somewhere in Australia! I had no choice but to kiss that little memento of my youth goodbye. But there was significant symbolism in the episode to carry forward: Not only was the kite gone forever – but so was daddy and all the coolness that defined him. It was a sobering moment – but one which I survived.
I never bought a fancy kite and attempted a repeat of that stunt. Between the shoplifting accusation, the injury to Warren’s thumb, and the aborted attempt at space flight, I figured I’d better leave well enough alone. To think of the little moments in the past which shape the people we are today. I’d have to consider that one of them. Another hare-brained scheme gone awry! The story of my life. What can I say?