About a month ago, I was out running errands with my sister preparing for my son’s 2nd Birthday party. Unsuspecting of what was to come, I walk into Party City with two balloons I had purchased at the Target Dollar Spot and present them to the employee to be filled with helium. What ensued was what felt like an eternity of quick pulsed, shallow breathing anxiety that could compete with Psycho.
The first balloon slowly begins to grow. And grow. And grow. Other customers start to turn their attention to the expanding inflatable taking on the size of a small blimp before their very eyes. My sister begins taking a video and anxiously starts wondering out loud about the ride home.
The employee ties off the first and begins filling the second, which similarly takes on a gigantic form. I continue distancing myself from the ballon counter and start noting areas where I could take cover when this baby blows. Behind a piñata? No. A weak-armed preschooler could break it with a twig. Maybe behind the life-size Moana cutout.
I see the sales person corral my balloons and I hesitantly return to the counter from my makeshift bomb shelter. My sister’s fears soon transition to anger for me bringing her along on this suicide mission. She has images of us patiently waiting at a traffic light with both balloons exploding with a force that would take out all the car’s windows and leave our ears ringing for days.
She remarks that I look like the house from Up as I try to squeeze through the automatic sliding doors. We open the trunk to her Ford Escape and cautiously put the first balloon as if we are handling unstable nitroglycerin. The second barely fits in what little space is left remaining and we delicately close the trunk.
Thus began the ride of our lives. Not a single breath was taken nor butt was unclinched for the entire 10 minute drive back to the house. The ride was silent except for the unending internal scream happening in both our heads that, dare we vocalize, would most likely cause these small blimps to become the Hindenburg.
Once home, it was an obstacle course navigating hot ceiling lights, popcorn ceilings, and door frames. The balloons survived the trip home. They survived the next day at the party. They still survive to this day in the playroom.
I can’t pop them. I don’t want to explain to my landlord why he needs to make a new claim on his homeowners insurance policy for new walls and windows.
I can’t release them into the wild. It would surely down a plane, kill a flock of birds, or meet up with other balloons and command a violent balloon gang.
So we wait. I like to think they are shrinking and maybe one day they will gently sink to the floor, a wrinkled shell of the greatness they once were. But maybe they will angrily pop in the early hours of the morning giving me a coronary or they will be around for my son’s college graduation. Only time will tell.