Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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Getting High!
John Fraser

John’s misadventures in kite-flying.

Many years ago, I was tasked with making a toy or game that was both entertaining and functional. It was one of the more useful things I was expected to do in order to demonstrate intelligence, determination, creativity and the ability to blindly follow dumb orders—thus I could qualify as an elementary school teacher in Ontario.

I had to build a kite. What could be so hard? A few strips of wood, some paper, a little string, and voilà: a kite. Mr. Walker, the shop/craft/toys-that-work guy, was absolutely clear: “No work—no marks.”

Following the mantra of “go big or go home,” I embarked on the mother of all box kites. Eight feet tall and four feet square seemed sufficiently impressive. From a massive roll of heavy-duty mural paper I got the covering. A lumberyard sliced an eight-foot plank into a series of two-inch sticks. Binder twine seemed strong enough to lash it all together. It was trickier than I thought, but eventually the cross members held and the mother of all box kites loomed above me. As a finishing touch, I painted the paper sides in the school’s colours, red and gold.

When it comes to kites, functionality is all about the flying.

Flying? It was so awkward I could hardly get it out of the door of the shop! The kite weighed 40 pounds. I needed a copilot, so I recruited my best friend and roommate, “Whiz.”

Between the two of us we carried the behemoth onto the soccer pitch. Knotting the binder twine tightly to the frame, I unravelled 50 feet and readied myself to dash at top speed across the pitch, causing the kite to inevitably soar into the air behind me. Whiz held it up and I hurled myself into the task, screaming, “Geronimo!”

The kite toppled over and I dragged it across the grass.

As I lay panting on the sod, I became conscious of the century-old school building across the field. Snaking up the red brick side of this aging edifice was an iron fire escape.

Eureka, Plan B!

I was certain that all I needed for a successful flight was to start the kite’s maiden voyage from a launch pad 60 feet in the air.

After hauling it up to the top of the school, Whiz balanced the kite precariously on the narrow steel railing while I ran out 200 feet of binder twine ending near the middle of the soccer pitch.

“Let her go!” I yelled, running pell-mell across the grass.

A rock could not have hit the ground any faster.

It’s well known that beer lubricates the thinking process, and so it was that we worked up Plan C. The key to our success would be speed. The key to speed would be the Whizbang— Whiz’s so-called car.

By now a crowd of well-wishers had come to line the sides of the street where the kite was stationed upright on its four sturdy legs. My six-foot-two frame was crammed into the open trunk of the Whizbang, with 200 feet of heavy-duty twine separating the kite from a manual winch I held tightly gripped between my thighs.

“Hit it, Whiz!”

Rubber burned. The trunk lid slammed down on my head. The winch spun, wildly burning my thighs and the kite flipped skyward like a startled ostrich.

The crowd cheered. And then we passed below the hydro line. The kite caught, spun and spiralled into the street with a resounding crash!

When it came time to submit my project, I argued that the red-and-gold mess of sticks, paper and binder twine could only have gotten into such a tragic state after falling to the ground from a great height. Thankfully Mr. Walker had a sense of humour. He gave me an “A,” proving that fine future educators such as myself are obviously born, not made.

John Fraser is a comedian, actor, speaker, special event cause celebre, general gad-about and recently a judge on Dancing with the Stars Mississauga. Need an entertaining speaker? He’s the guy for you! iloveaging.com | juanfraser@gmail.com.