Balloons are really interesting objects from so many different perspectives. First and foremost, there is the entertainment value to be derived from a tiny, shriveled up piece of pliant rubber that, when inflated, becomes an object of delight for children and grown-ups alike. Of course, it is always more interesting when helium is the gas of choice, as our ephemeral possession assumes a life of its own, bouncing about above our heads but firmly attached to hand clenching string. One careless, inattentive moment and…swoosh…off it goes on a journey to the upper atmosphere to commune with liberated objects of its own kind.
Of course, not everyone has access to a helium tank, so most folks are confined to using lung power to inflate their balloons. Once a balloon is filled with air there are numerous options. The simplest, most common option is to tie it off and bounce it around until boredom sets in…then consign it to some corner of a room where it will lie unappreciated and ignored until the air winds around the knot and, what was once a proud, firm balloon, becomes a gasping bag of wrinkled rubber.
Add to that the fun of filling a balloon to capacity and releasing it without tying it off. I have spent many an hour amusing myself watching balloons fluttering hither dither about a room, bouncing off walls…hitting inanimate objects such as lamps and elderly relatives, then hurling themselves into limp oblivion.
We also have the option of filling our balloons to capacity then stretching and distending the opening to produce either an annoying squeaky cacophony or a low-pitched flutter. The later sound is the noise produced by a “Whoopie Cushion” which is a heavy-duty variant of balloon technology.
Then, of course, there is the comedic value derived from inhaling the contents of a helium balloon. I sometimes wish that, when I am cornered by some mouth breathing bonehead, I would have the authority to require him or her to take repeated hits off the old helium balloon. Nothing is funnier than listening to impassioned high-pitched monologues about goiters, kidney stones, dental surgery, or the benefits of a Donald Trump Presidency.
Purists may object that my perspective on balloons does not include much in the way of discussion about really big balloons like the kind used to launch military and weather devices into the upper reaches of the atmosphere or balloons that are used to transport people and cargo. As a result of my very limited research into this subject I have learned that big balloons have been around for hundreds of years. I guess it would be pretty cool to jump into a gondola and make trite observations about how all the folks down there “look like ants” but I have way too much respect for ants to explore this rather lame analogy. I wonder if ants would look up at the idiots in a gondola waving down at the ground and observe: “Hey, guys! Look up there! They look just like us!”
Balloons have been around for over a thousand years. The first balloons were fashioned from animal bladders. I also read some interesting facts about the military applications of balloons. They were used in the Civil War to some extent by both the North and the South but were discontinued around 1863. Mostly, they were used in tied-down stationary applications to spot and report enemy troop movements and to direct artillery fire. I assume that they attracted the attention of enemy snipers and cannoneers.
I also found out that, during WWII, sneaky Japanese soldiers launched 9,000 balloons carrying incendiary devices and small bombs. The theory was that these balloons would travel on the Easterly Wind Currents and find their way to the continental US where they would cause fires and explosions. It didn’t work very well because most of the balloons dropped into the ocean. The ones that reached the US, mainland, for the most part, fell into unpopulated areas. The effort was abandoned. If they used manned kamikaze balloons the success rate would have been higher. I don’t know about you but, if I was a flipped-out, starving Japanese soldier wildly swinging a samurai sword while descending onto Times Square in August of 1945 in a ragged, ice-covered balloon, the first thing I would do would be to grab some photogenic nurse and give her a sloppy, wet kiss.
In my continued research on this subject I also discovered that there are a few unfortunate souls among us who suffer from a fear of balloons. The specific condition is referred to as globophobia. This is not to be confused with a fear of globes which is called randmcnallyophobia or a fear of globs which is referred to as whatareyounutsophobia.
I can only imagine how tough it would be to have a phobia about balloons. If you stop and look around, balloons are everywhere. Toy stores, florist shops, costume stores and even most grocery stores have balloons somewhere in the aisles or around the checkout counter. If you sufferered from globophobia you couldn’t risk going to an outdoor sports arena because you never know when the Goodyear Blimp might come cruising by. I mean it’s bad enough to go to a football game and watch all the purple and orange-dyed half-naked goons screaming drunken obscenities and the mascots getting into fist-fights on the turf. But, if you add some sweating, hyperventilating loon running around screaming, “The balloons are coming. The balloons are coming” well, it’s enough to make me wish I had remembered to bring MY videocamera.
I guess that I am going to get some hate mail from globophobiacs now and I hope that one of them doesn’t decide to start stalking me. The last thing I want to see at 3AM is some whack job standing over my bed with a baseball bat, sputtering some crazy rant about balloons. As a precaution, my house is filled with helium balloons bouncing around the ceiling. You can’t be too careful as this video will attest. I stray a bit from the balloon theme as the title of this short video is “Grape Jelly Batman Lesbian Bigfoot Balloon Polka.” It has an adult theme so you may not want the kids in the room:
I even managed to combine my own phobia with the precautions that I have taken against rampaging globophobiacs. You see, I also suffer from a phobia. I have sanguivoriphobia which is a fear of vampires. I guess this is less of a problem than globophobia because all I have to do is stay out of the fiction aisles of bookstores and sit in a closet until Halloween is over. I am a firm believer in killing two birds with one stone, however, so I tied little packets of garlic and tiny crosses to all the helium balloons in my bedroom.