The Question

"What's that?"

What is it about flying a kite on the beach that makes people assume that you aren't an as yet unindicted axe murderer and it's perfectly fine to bring along wife, kids and dog and bombard you with harmless questions and friendly smiles?

"It's a kite." I don't mind the questions. It's the incessant smiling that gets me snarky.

"No, underneath it, hanging there. What's THAT?"

"Don't worry, it's not radioactive." Blank look. Maybe it wasn't so much a silly smile as a sun induced squint. "This time," I add helpfully. More blank look. Maybe this is a bit cruel. That really is a nice dog tagging along with the family.

"It's a camera."

"Oh. Wow." As if everything is now clear and the mysteries of the universe have been revealed. "See, Hon?" turning to wife, kids and dog, who apparently aren't as quick on the uptake, "it's a camera."

"Oh. Wow."

And now the questions fall back in familiar territory. How do you know where it's pointing? How do you trigger it? What kind of camera is that? Where did you get the kite? I've got a set of stock answers for these questions with varying degrees of truthfulness and entertainment value depending on how friendly is the visiting dog and how much I think I can get away with until, inevitably, comes the stumper:

"Why do you do this?"

My turn for a blank look. If it's not immediately obvious, is it possible to explain? If I start talking about blurring the boundaries between mythos and logos will these nice people report me to the Department of Homeland Security? Or will they just try to make me accept some copies of Watchtower? The dog senses hesitation and awkwardness and barks once, demanding a scratch behind the ears. The awkward moment passes, the question is forgotten. Good doggie.