By Emma Redmer
Cannon: Between the 4th and 5th seasons
Characters: Larry, Balki, Jennifer, Mary Anne
Synopsis: Balki and Larry attempt to get a kite in the air, much to their girlfriendsí amusement.
Disclaimer: Lorimar Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions, and Warner Bros. Television own Perfect Strangers.
Notes: This story is dedicated to childrenís book author Arnold Lobel, whose series of Frog & Toad stories inspired "Bathing Suit Bingo," "Cookies," "Kite Dreaming," and the charming musical A Year With Frog & Toad.
"Cousin," Balki Bartokomos insisted as he hurried down the concrete path, "isnít it a beautiful day for a picnic?"
"Yeah," gasped his cousin, roommate, and best friend Larry Appleton, "itís gorgeous." The young man carried a full picnic basket in one hand and a cooler in the other, puffing under their weight.
"Are you sure you donít want help, Larry?" Larryís girlfriend Jennifer Lyons asked. "We packed a lot of food."
"Donít forget the kite!" Balki waved the bright red length of fabric and string. "Cousin Larry said heíd show me how to fly a kite today."
Mary Anne Spencer, Balkiís girlfriend, carried a big Myposian wool blanket. "This looks like a nice place for a picnic," she claimed, plopping down on a grassy field a ways from the path. "Thereís a shady tree and lots of grass to sit on, and itís near the baseball diamond. We can play a game of catch after we eat."
"And," Balki continued, "thereís lots of room to fly a kite!"
Jennifer sighed as Larry trudged over to the spot. "Are you sure the kite thing is a good idea?"
Larry shrugged as he dropped the basket and Mary Anne and Balki lay the blanket on the ground. "I used to fly kites with my brothers and sisters all the time in Madison. Itíll be fun to teach Balki how to do it."
Jennifer just shook her head. Larryís idea of teaching someone how to do something was to criticize them until they did everything exactly the way he did it. She saw him do it to Balki countless times. She also knew that when Balki and Larry got it in their heads to do something, they did it, regardless of the consequences. "I donít know. The last time you tried to show him how to do something fun, you skied down the wrong side of a mountain and got us caught in an avalanche."
"Jennifer," Larry explained, "weíre in a very flat park in Chicago in the summer. Iím just going to fly a kite with my best friend. What could possibly go wrong?"
"Everything," Jennifer muttered as Balki set out the condiments. Mary Anne set up the plates, and Larry and Jennifer passed out the food. The three proceeded to enjoy sandwiches and soda, apples, grapes, Myposian golden fig cakes (also known as American Fig Newtons), and potato chips.
An hour later, Mary Anne gathered the empty paper plates, cups, and utensils to throw them away. "That was a great meal. Balki, I loved your mutton chop sandwiches with lemon-mint mustard."
"Itís a very popular recipe," Balki explained. "Mama gave me her Bettia Crockiki cookbook when I moved to America. No Myposian cook should be without one." He turned to Larry as the smaller man returned from throwing away a bag of potato chips. "Cousin, can we fly a kite now?" Balki stuck his finger in the air. "The wind is perfect, and Apollina the sun goddess is right above us in Father Sky."
Larry groaned. "Balki, could we wait a while? Iím stuffed. I think I overdid the golden fig cakes a little."
Balki screwed up his face and started to cry. "Cousin, I want to fly a kite! I want to be one with Father Sky and his children!"
Larry sighed. Balkiís whining got him every time, if only to stop a grown man from behaving like a spoiled five-year-old. "Ok, Balki, weíll fly the kite."
Balki threw his arms around his cousin. "Oh, thank you, cousin!" He picked up the kite. "This is so exciting! Iíve never flown anything before, much less a flimsy piece of red fabric." He tugged at the string of bows on the end. "Cousin, what this for?"
Larry began to unroll the string. "Itís balances the kite when itís in the air." He walked to a spot in the middle of the field, Balki following with the kite. "Girls, would you like to join us?"
"Iím too full to move," Mary Anne complained, "much less chase after a kite."
Jennifer shook her head. "I think Iím safer here."
Larry shrugged. "Suit yourselves." He showed Balki the string. "Iím going to hold the roll of string, and youíll run with the kite."
Balki made a face. "Cousin, why canít I hold the string?"
"Someone has to run with the kite and get it in the air."
"Canít we just let it go in the wind and see what happens?"
Larry rolled his eyes. "No, we canít just let it go in the wind and see what happens. The kite isnít an airplane. The only motor it has is the person who runs with it, and youíre a lot faster than I am."
Balki smiled, placid again. "Ok, cousin. Iíll be a motor."
Larry nodded as the wind whistled across the field. Mary Anne and Jennifer squealed and started putting ketchup bottles and rocks on the corners of the fluttering blanket. "Ok, Balki, run to the other side of the field, then let the kite go."
Balki did as he was told, running as fast as he could with the kite. He let it go when he reached the end of the field, and it drifted to the grass with a small plop. "Cousin, is it possible for a kite to fly in the grass?"
Larry hurried over to him. The girls, watching from the now-subdued blanket, giggled. "I donít know what happened. Thereís plenty of wind." He smiled. "I know what we did wrong. Balki, you have to run with the kite again, but this time, when you get to the end of the field, keep the kite above your head."
Mary Anne nearly fell over laughing. Jennifer snorted. "Like that will make any difference."
Larry shot the girls a nasty look as Balki ran to the other end of the field, holding the kite as far above his head as he could. "Youíll see, girls! Our kite will fly, and itíll fly so well, even birds will want to take flying lessons from us!"
Jennifer sighed. "Oh, we believe you, Larry. Why donít you show the birds some real flying?"
Larry turned back to Balki just in time to see him stumble over a muddy hole and land face-first on the grass. Larry dropped the string and hurried to his cousin. "Balki, buddy, are you all right? Anything broken?"
Balki nodded. "Iím not hurt, but the kiteís all muddy, and the balancing beam string broke." He shook his head sadly. "I donít think weíll ever get this kite in the air, cousin. Itís a slice of junk."
"Itís not a slice of junk!" Larry insisted. "We just need to figure out how to get it to stay in the air." He helped Balki to his feet and brushed off the kite, making sure his cousin saw that the kite was ok. "See, Balki? There was no harm done. The sticks didnít even break." He handed Balki the kite. "I have an idea. Youíll run again, only this time, when you get to the end of the field, jump and wave your arms."
"Are you sure this will work, Cousin?"
"Trust me, Balki, Have I ever been wrong before?"
"Many times, Cousin, but I still trust you."
Mary Anne giggled again. "Oh, this should be fun!"
Balki did what he was told, even though he felt funny about it. He ran as hard as he could to the end of the field, jumped as far as his long legs allowed, and waved his arms, while still holding the kite.
"He looks like a lunatic out there," Jennifer whispered to Mary Anne, who burst into giggles.
Balki finally got to the end of the field and threw the kite into the air as hard as he could. It looked like it would fall again at first, but, after a few ducks and swoops, it soared into the air, high above the four friends and the field.
"Cousin!" Balki ran to Larry and gave him a big hug. "We did it! Our kite is really flying!"
The girls ran to join them. "It looks like itís going up to the moon!" Mary Anne exclaimed. She hugged Balki. "Sign me up for flying lessons!"
"Itís really flying now!" Jennifer added. She kissed Larry on his cheek. "I honestly didnít think youíd get it off the ground, but you did."
"Balki," Larry asked, "would you like to hold the string now?"
Balkiís face lit up like a sunbeam. "You mean I can be the captain, instead of the co-pilot?"
Larry grinned along with him. "You deserve it, Balki. You were the one who got the thing in the air." He handed the string over to Balki. "When you want to let the kite go farther in the air, just unroll the string a little."
"Like this?" Balki started turning the string, letting more and more of it go. The kite flew higher and higher and further away from its owners.
Larry frowned. "Balki, be careful. Kites are very delicate. They get stuck in power lines and on rooftops easily, and they break easily, too."
Mary Anne tugged at Balkiís sleeve, pointing at the large elm tree shading the remains of their lunch. "Arenít you getting awfully close to that tree?"
"Itíll be ok, Mary Anne," Balki assured her. "Watch me do a trick!" He made the kite do three loops and a figure eight when the wind shifted. Much to the horror of the four on the field, the kite darted straight into the tree and refused to budge, no matter how much Balki tugged at it.
Larry glared at his cousin. "Balki, I told you to be careful!"
Balki blushed, realizing that he was the one at fault this time. "Iím sorry, cousin. At least its not a kite-eating tree, like in that comic strip about the little boy with the bald head and the dog whoís a World War I flying ace."
The sound of chomping jaws and smashing wood attracted their attention. The four exchanged surprised and horrified looks and hurried across the field.