The Big Ball of Twine

I have been asked, on several occasions and not in the most sincere of voices, why on Earth do I want to go see the world's biggest ball of twine.  I have been asked, with some snickers, why I would want to drive 4 hours into the middle of Kansas to see something such as this.  People then would ask "With your kids?" on the off chance I forgot that I had children.  And sometimes I do forget I have children which is always a mistake because if you are not on constant guard, they tend to smash you in the nuts and destroy the house. 

People would ask where the great giant ball of twine is.  People would ask me where I would stay when I got there.  People would ask me why, why, why I was going to see the ball of twine. 

But no one never asked me What the ball of twine is.  And there, my friends, is the rub. 

I will admit, the idea for going to see a giant ball of twine, several tons, started off as a joke.  It was an off hand comment.  What are doing today?  Oh, going to see a ball of twine.  It was that simple, a small little ha ha to make uncomfortable silent moments more bearable, to showcase how funny I am.  There the ball of twine stayed, a punchline in an bad joke. 

But it refused to stay there.  Over time, my mind would go back to it.  A few moments of the day here, a few moments of the day there.  The joke started to become a little more serious.  Questions came into my head, like why wouldn't I go see the ball of twine.  What else have I got to do today?  The world is open to me, I can do anything I want because my awesome wife makes all this possible. 

The kids and I have the whole summer to fill.  There are things to see, experiences to be had, memories to build.  The ball of twine?  Yes, we will see a giant ball of twine strictly because I have been a very unique opportunity to stay home with my kids.  An opportunity that most father's don't get.  This opportunity won't last forever, it will last only as long as they tolerate me.  Sooner than I would think, they will grow up.  They will not want to take road trips with dad.  They will want to spend time with their friends.  They will want to go to summer camps, they will want to spend alone time with guys named Chet.  They will go to high school and then college.  They will stop coming home on summers so that they can go to retreats in vans so that they can "discover" themselves.  And of course, Chet will be there. 

I will be at home.  With the cat and my fat dog.  And no ball of twine. 

This all started 2 years ago.  I put the word out to the other Dads I hang out with that there was a ball of twine out there and damn it, we were going to see it.  My reception was a bit less than enthusiastic.  But they were in.  But we can't go on a Tuesday, we were all doing something else.  We can't go over the weekend, we need to spend time with the wife.  Monday is out, Monday is a shopping day. 

And so it went.  The first year passed and no ball of twine was seen.  The second year came and so did summer responsibilities.  Soccer camps, vacation bible schools, trips to see families.  The ball of twine got pushed back.  I talked about it, I waxed poetic verses about how it would be epic.  A random road trip to a random attraction.  Year 2 went just like year 1. 

School came and Little Hoss went to kindergarten.  I was locked in now, I couldn't go anywhere.  I had a schedule to keep.  I had missed an opportunity.

But the thought of the ball of twine was still there and over those two years, it became important to do so.  I would think about it, I would research it.  Sometimes it felt almost as if I obsessed about it.  I realized that the ball of twine had become my white whale, the mythical sea beast that was always just out of my grasp.  It would rub against my thoughts every morning I put Little Hoss on the bus and drove Bubba Hoss to preschool twice a week.  I thought about it as I did grocery shopping and made lunches.  I thought about it as I sat at the soccer fields. 

The ball of twine isn't just a ball of twine.  It's not just a bunch of farmer's rope that some guy spent 60 years collecting, although that is what it appears to be.  It's more than that. 

It represents an opportunity.  It represents the gift that my wife has given me by allowing me to stay home with the kids until they are older.  It is a chance to make memories, to have experiences unique to us only, before the chance to make those precious memories are gone.  It is a chance to show the kids our country, to see rolling hills of wheat, to feel wind so hard that it almost pushes you back, to see the kind of communities that dot the landscape of America.  To live their culture, to leave the city behind and do something, do something that on the face is completely silly.  To make memories that would last as long as I do. 

That's what the ball of twine is and that is why we needed to see it.  That is why we needed to go.  We needed to catch our white whale, which really isn't a ball of twine but the memories of doing something silly with the children, just because we can. 

I will go back to work one day.  I will get up in the morning and shower and shave.  I will put on nice clothes.  I will not get kicked in the balls.  There will be no stains to clean up.  There will be no breakfast to make.  There will be no snuggle time on the couch while we wake up.  There will be a quick bagel and a commute to an office, that is devoid of color, to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours.  There will be the commute home, the talk radio about sports or politics, the deadlines of my latest projects. 

But this year, if I do this right, there will also be memories of going on a random road trip with my children. 


  1. I'm so happy for you. From the amount of stuff packed in the van it appears you able to stat at least a month! MiL

  2. Wow, that's pretty neat. I love your blog.