The Balloon Hearder

My daughter has just turned 1 this week. Very big age for her. The big uno, the first in the series, El Capitaino. Needless to say it was a very big day for her. It was even a bigger day for my wife and I. This means that we are not really "new" parents anymore. We have a year of experience under our belt. We are no longer rookies that have to sing our fight song from the dinner table while the vets throw mashed potatos at us. The hazing is over, yeah! We have graduated if you will.
This is our first squid of several and we haven't really done a child's birthday party before so there was a lot to think about. The biggest decision was how to pull off this first birthday party. Keep in mind that in my head there was the thought that my daughter would be disappointed in me if I didn't come through and make it the best ever. That is the problem with almost all parents who do thier first party. How will my one year old feel about me when this is over. Of course, we aren't thinking right after a year of no sleep and the dreaded first drawn blood from your inattention. Nope, we are thinking "will my daughter be unhappy". In hindsight now, I fully realize that my daughter is completly happy with a box of baby wipes, pulling them each out one at a time. She really could care less about the rest. She thinks "hey great, a new toy, but what I really want to do is eat the paper then puke it on daddy before he goes to work."
So what my wife and I did, being reasonable and repsonsible, sat down and talked this out. We came to the conclusion that we are insane and will be going way overboard to buy my daughters affection and the approval of all the guests. For about a week, I actually considered getting clowns, a petting zoo, and a magician. Seriously considered. Your mind starts to race and then you realize that you want to make your wife as happy as well as your daughter. Because if you don't, you may run the small chance of one day laying alone in your ghetto apartment, wearing "jams" with black socks and sandles eating your can of potted meat. Cooler heads prevailed but only somewhat. The magician was out, but I decided instead to get her 100 balloons, and thus this blog comes into being.
100 sounded like a nice, good figure. A round number. A number with a 1 in it, ah, it must be destiny. Until I thought about what a 100 balloons might actually look like. Sometimes its hard to visualize numbers. 100, 10--kinda look the same before you think about it. 100 balloons, what is this--some kind of inaugriation? Did she just win the election. Although I'm sure if my daughter decided to run for something requiring an election, she would win, then I would get 100 balloons.
I settled on 4 dozen. Instead of calling it 48 balloons, I used the word dozen. It sounded more impressive, more imperial and a hell of alot more than a meager 100! Yes, I shall get my daughter 4 dozen balloons, thus insuring her affection for me! I wasn't thinking how I would transport these things but I was sure that as a very adaptble person, it would be no sweat.
I began to seriously question my plan for over all daughter adoration when I arrived at the balloon store and actual got my first glimpse. A dozen balloons look a lot bigger than I had thought. Like some wierd massive jelly fish bouncing across the heavens. In short, these were not tame balloons. These were downright wild. Straight from the balloon forest and full of spirit. These had not been broken and they appeared, to me atleast, to be ferioucious helium filled beasts. Each balloon would shoot straight to the top of the store as soon as it was filled, often fighting for dominance on it's way up. In this case a gigantic red balloon appeared to be the Alpha male and choose the choice spot next to the vent. The others were cowed, and I was well on my way.
I ordered my four dozen, having to repeat it twice to Ms. Helps-a-lot as she apparently saw the flaw in my plan. But I had to remain undaunted, afterall, I am superdad. The first three dozen took shape very quickly. After she had a dozen, she would string them all together in a little bouquet. I however realized what it really was, a red/pink/purple cloud of malice. I had never handled this many balloons before as I didn't think I needed much practice. What I have learned is that I am an idiot.
I figure that it would be better if I start loading these things into my car. Carrying three dozen balloons is quite an experience. You never notice how hard a breeze really is blowing until you walk outside with a flora of blown up plastic. As soon as I stepped outside it was like a hand reached underneath these things. For a moment I actually believed that I would float away like in some strange children's tale. Save me Mary Poppins! I figured my pudge anchored me pretty well to this world, but it was being tested. When I walked out, that's when the balloons made thier first escape attempt, counting on my inexpiernce. I cussed them back into submission until I got to my car. I have never tried to put three dozen balloons in a car before either and it would appear that a little forthought might have helped things out.
I crammed, I pushed, I moaned but they continued to try to escape. That's when it happened. This is my confession and I suppose I must tell it all. The band that the lady had used to put each dozen togther snapped on the second dozen. In slow motion, I saw a dozen balloons make a break for the open air from the back of my SUV. I was still struggeling with the first two dozen in the car and as I lurched for the broken pack, the other's saw thier chance. Once the balloons were not tethered together, they split and went seperate ways, each yearing for free air. What was I to do? I tried grabbing a few with my free hand, but could not do much as the other's were still trying to pull a houdini as well. I then tried to bite at the last remaining strings that were close to me, even jumping for one but coming up empty. The escapee's soared, magnificantly, each mocking me as it floated higher and higher. 10 made it out. The brave 10, wild things that they are.
I decided that I had better put the ball and chain on to get control of the situation. I was in my mother-in-laws car and luckily for me, she's a packrat. One dozen I tied to the end of a half empty water bottle, the other dozen to a cartoon of parliments. That should do it, although I know that I had failed in getting the promised "4 dozen!" balloons. I went back to the store and picked up my last dozen, failing to mention the travesty that had happened outside. My embarressment at this sitcome moment would not let me speak. I would hide my shame until I could find t he strength to blog it.
The last bunch got a stern speech before we set out. I let them know that any escape attempts would be met with an automatic popping, no appeals. This seemed to do the trick as I nestled them into the backseat, tied to a car trashcan. I hopped in my car and off I rode.
It was then I started asking myself a very silly, but scary question. Helium is flamable, right? I figured I had enough explosive balloon gas in this confined space to light me up like the Hindenburg. It was at this exact moment, I kid you not, that two of the ones that were left behind, decided to committ hari-kari. There was a loud pop, one after another. I screamed. Yes, I screamed like a little girl showing her panties. I'm not proud of it and thank the god Jesus H that my daughter didn't hear that, not that she has much respect for me at the current moment. I thought that a spark had just ignited this traveling freak show and that I was sure to lose what little hair I had left. It was not my proudest moment. I looked back in the rearview mirror and saw no orange hellfire coming at me and I slowly got back to working order. I could hear the others praying for thier fallen comrades.
The rest of the trip went off as expected and I arrived on time with my daughter's balloons. Her face lit up and I knew that I was her hero. I untied all the balloons and let them try to find a way out, which was hopeless, they were in the power of my 1 year old. Several of the parents knew of my plan of 4 dozen balloons and were quite pleased. However, my brother in law made the off handed comment that "Wow, I thought 4 dozen balloons would look like more." Shut your piehole.

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