We’ve had a bit of a situation around here. It technically started over a month ago, when Will, Stella, and I went to the grocery store a few days before Felix was born. When we walked into the grocery store, we were abruptly reminded that Valentine’s Day was that Thursday, the day before I went into the hospital. Despite the fact that we had obvious reasons to be distracted from the holiday, I should note that Valentine’s Day is an annual non-event at our house, anyway. We just don’t dig it or deal with it. I mention this as it explains why the spectacle of all that red and pink was a big slap-in-the-face surprise to us. To Stella, it was a magical world of hearts and flowers and BALLOONS. Candidly, we were spoiling her a bit before her little brother entered her world and potentially shattered it, so her daddy agreed to buy her a balloon. She picked out a foil balloon in the shape of a goofy monkey holding a heart that says “Love you.”
For some reason, shortly after we got home, Stella started to try to bite the edges where the 2 sides were joined together. Spoiling or no, her father was quick to leap in and remove the balloon from her teeth, noting that that stupid balloon had cost $5. Monkey Balloon was placed in the vomitorium and promptly forgotten. Roughly three weeks later, Stella happened to notice Monkey Balloon hiding in plain sight, and demanded that he be returned to her. Ok. Why not?
Anyone with any kind of kid time logged under their belt knows that children have this odd love affair with balloons. Mine is no exception. Every time Stella has had a balloon, there are the usual adoring glances, the testing to see if it really will float up if you let go of the string, and the dragging it around the house until it gets fouled up in a ceiling fan or one of the 3 Stupid Cats eats through the ribbon and the balloon bobs around the ceiling with only a nub of string left. At most, balloon amour lasts about an afternoon at most. Monkey Balloon was different.
Sure, it started normally enough. I guess the turning point was the first time it got fouled in the ceiling fan. Stella became pretty upset. She had an expression on her face of sheer panic + outrage + terror. From then on, whenever Monkey Balloon was on her radar, it had to be cared for like a sentient being. Once or twice, she allowed her father to care for it. He must have screwed up because by the end, I was the only one allowed to mind the Monkey Balloon. I had to hold it, just so, and sit near Stella. It didn’t matter what I was doing. I was not “allowed” to wedge the string under something so that I could use both of my hands. I had to hold it, physically, myself, without letting go for a second.
It should be noted that the string was short by this point. I can’t remember, honestly, what happened. It was either a by-product of the battle with the ceiling fan or one of the Stupid Cats. Monkey Balloon drifted about with a nubby little 1.5’ ribbon. If you were lucky, he would stick on the ceiling and Stella would forget about him for a day or two, not seeing him unless his string tickled her face and fancy.
Here’s where it gets weird.
The weather here is changing from our too-brief spring to “holy merde it’s hot.” I guess the temperature fluctuations were too much for Monkey Balloon’s helium. He got to where it was tough to remain fully aloft, and instead, reached some kind of odd neutral buoyancy. Monkey Balloon scared the poop out of me one night last week as I came into the living room with Felix for a mid-night feeding. It was dark, of course, and all I saw was this largish shape right at eye-level slowly moving through the living room. It was Monkey Balloon, of course. I got angry and shoved him back into the vomitorium, figuring the sloped ceiling, gates, shelving, and many other obstacles would keep him in there. He was back out by morning, waiting on me in the kitchen when I went to prepare my tea.
The next day, I went to the back master bath to pee. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shape and got spooked. Monkey Balloon was hovering above my f’ing shower. I have no idea how he got up there. He would have had to maneuver from whatever front room he was in, down the hall, ducking under 3 different door jambs, and finally wiggle back into my shower. It was creepy, I tell you. I got pissed, grabbed him, and shoved him between the commode and the wall. He stayed there for several days.
I am grateful that the string was so short. I think Monkey Balloon was looking for a way to f one of us up. Maybe he was mad about the fan. I don’t know. I’m also kind of scared to just finish deflating him and throw him into the garbage. There may be retaliation. Oh, and Stella may be upset. He’s now kind of puddled on our bathroom floor. It should be noted that Will hasn’t disposed of Monkey Balloon, either. Stella couldn’t have picked a creepier balloon if she had found a clown.