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April 14, 2006


NOTE: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS AN AMOUNT OF FEATHERS NOT EXCEEDING THAT ALLOWABLE BY LAW. That's what it says inside my down jacket. I feel safe in the knowledge that my jacket is not over-warm and also that our tax dollars are being spent wisely, especially since I don't have representation. Those goose-down feathers are tiny; how do they count feathers anyway?

I arrive at the piano teacher's house and walk inside to find my beauty: that lovely shiny piano that I've been falling in love with. "Hello shiny piano!" I say as I enter the room.

"I polished it just yesterday." She says.

As I play When The Saints Go Marching In she interrupts me, "It says 'With spirit' at the top of the score." Then she stridently punches down on the keys producing a rich, full sound.

"Oh I see! That's forte. I'm worried that I'm going to break it; like women are about computers." I say.

She looks a little bit hurt and says assertively, "I'm very good with computers!"

"I was just generalizing. I'll push the buttons harder from now on."

"They're keys, not buttons, and the only way you could break it is if you hit it with a hammer."

"And that's next week's lesson, right?" We both chuckle.

"Do you mind if I bring my kite?" I ask my friend after parking outside her house.

"Do you really have to?"

"Sure," I say, "it's a great day for kiting. You can have a go too if you like."

"You're going to embarrass me with that kite and that silly hat!"

"What's wrong with my hat? It's a perfectly good hat."

Kiting isn't for wimps anymore. This is serious shit. I'm not talking about some skinny little boy standing in the park with a slack bit of string attached to kebab-stick frame covered in crepe paper. Or even Founding Fathers with keys and death-wishes. This is ten-foot-long power-kite with three-hundred-pound tensile-strength cables. It's terrifying to behold.

"Hold it up!" I shout at the top of my voice. She holds it above her head. "Go, go, go!" I shout. She lets it go and trips over her dog, collapsing in a tangled heap of waterproof jacket and paws. Up it goes.

I let it float high above my head for a while. It's incredibly windy; it's also foggy. Then I bring it down into the wind envelope, dig my heels in, and almost sit down. The inflated wing soars around the circumference of a hundred-foot-diameter circle with a roaring sound. I'm using all my weight to hold it back. Then it lifts me into the air and I travel ten feet laterally like I'm walking on the moon. I land and the kite starts to drag me. I lose my footing and skid along on one knee before falling into a roll and letting go of the kite which sails off over some barbed wire into another field.

It's too windy for kiting. She's laughing.

"You're not going to wear that hat into the pub are you?" She asks nervously.

We enter the pub, my hat in place, and I say in a deep west-country accent, "Hello, give me a pint of your finest ale and a plate of country fare!" The two barmaids look at me in astonishment and the other punters fall into silence. Several people look furtively toward the door.

My friend shamefully goes to the toilet and I decide to chat with one of the barmaids, "Do you like my kite?" I hold up the three-foot-long Flexifoil bag.

"I can't see it." She says. A smart girl this, I think.

I tell her, "It's ten feet long." I watch as her eyes widen and her lips part. It works every time; there's nothing better than a kite to get you noticed with the women. "Could I have a pint of coke please?"

"No." She says. And there's a moment of silence.

"Okay" I say and sit down. You see, I know who's in control of the soft-drink pump, and it's not me.

"Wait!" I call as she walks up into the field again. "I like that girl in there."

"Well what are you going to do?"

"I don't know. What can I do? She's with her parents. I can't just walk away. I can't just let it slide. I could write her a note and give it to her. I could tell her that she's really beautiful and ask her to email me."

"No. Don't do that! That sounds like you're desperate. Just give her your email address, like you did with me."

"Okay, I'm going to do it."

I write on a three-inch by five-inch index card, "Hi, You are attractive to me. Email me if you'd like to get to know me better. Duncan. duncan@riach.org." Then I walk over to their table, say hi to her parents, hi to her, and hand her the card with a smile. As I hand it to her, I say, "Here's a message for you." She smiles and says thanks. Then I walk back out.

"I did it! I did it! I feel great!" I'm jumping up and down. She hands me the pink retractable dog lead and keeps the kite.

"So you like the kite now do you?" I ask.

"It's okay."

"But I thought that you thought that it was gay. And now you're carrying it."

"You've got the dog lead."

"Oh yeah, I've got the pink dog lead. Which one is gayer, the dog lead or the kite? Stop dragging it on the ground will you? You'll get it all muddy."

We walk in silence for a few moments.

"Are you alright?" she asks me.

"I'm feeling calm, happy, and satisfied. How are you feeling?"

"Okay. Why are you quiet?"

"I wanted to see how you responded to me being quiet."

"You're never quiet. You're always saying something."

"It's alright to be quiet sometimes."

"I am dog-lead man!" I say puffing up my chest and holding the retractable pink dog lead out in front of me. I defeat all evil using only this pink dog lead.

"Are you listening to him?" She asks her dog.

"You're not even listening to me?" I ask.

We fall back into silence and walk home.

I can't tell you what I did in the evening because it's top-secret. But it was very fun. Maybe I will tell you about it someday.

"... made me laugh out loud!" — Julia


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