So here’s a story that’s going to make you think I’m a little…off. If you think that already, well it will just confirm your suspicions.
As a child I was unusually sensitive to certain things. Like I wouldn’t jump on my bed because I didn’t want to “hurt it’s feelings.” I was very protective of my stuffed animals…I taught them a fire escape plan for when my family was gone, so they could get themselves out in the event of a fire. Did you read that? I lined all my stuffed animals up on the floor and taught them how to open my window, jump out, and get far enough away from the house to be safe. When I received a new stuffed animal, I again, lined everybody up, introduced Mr. New Guy, and explained that, since he was new, I might be spending a bit more time with Mr. New Guy, but that didn’t mean I didn’t love the rest of them. I cried when I saw “dead” (my term) stuffed animals abandoned by the trash cans, sitting soggy and sad in the rain. I used my quarters to buy unwanted stuffed animals at yard sales. My most unusual acquisition however, was an incredibly ugly cat (I know it was a cat because it said CAT in big white letters surrounded by a red heart on its belly) that I bought at the Deerfield fair because I knew it was so butt-ugly that no one else in their right mind would buy it.
*a caveat though…sensitivity to inanimate objects did not mean I was a super sweet, kind person. My sister and I fought–viciously and often. I most definitely used the “r” word (didn’t everyone in the 70’s and 80’s? I swear the teachers did too) to describe those in special ed. I took part in tossing carpet fuzz down a kid named Eddie’s plumbers crack during story time in 1st grade. I got 3 days of detention for sending April McCauley an “anonymous” note in pink hi-liter that said “Go F- Yourself April!” in 6th grade. (hint: if you want something to be anonymous, don’t hand the note to the person’s best friend yourself. Or maybe LIE to the Principal when he asks if you wrote it, instead of bursting into tears.) Lots of proud moments in there.
Anyway, so I introduce my odd sensitivities to lead into one that is even more bizarre…it’s kind of easy to see how someone could get attached to stuffed animals. Cute, fuzzy. Right? But no, I also was particularly attuned to the distressing abuse of…
I would cry at birthday parties when we played those “stomp on as many balloons as you can!” games. The noise of a balloon popping sent me through the roof. I was afraid of it, yes, but it also made me feel inordinately sad. I refused to participate. But wait. There’s something even stranger still.
After one of these balloon massacres, I would go around and collect all the pieces of the “dead” balloons. And I would keep them. In a pink checkered fabric box I’d made in 4-H.
I had a collection of dead balloons in a balloon coffin.
If you’re not saying “W.T.F.” by now then perhaps you need to see someone.
Fast forward to today, and I work at the Maryland Science Center. A fun, hands-on science museum. Every day around noon we do something called our “Shock of the Day!” It often involves fire. And explosions.
Balloons filled with the explosive gas hydrogen.
I confess that even as a 41 year old woman I cannot blow up a balloon. I can not tie off a balloon. I am still totally freaked out by the possibility of balloons popping. And yet I am now paid to sometimes, am required to sometimes participate in an activity where you must a) fill balloons with an explosive gas. And maybe some cool powder that will turn green or sparkle. b) tie off said balloons. c) Explode those balloons with something called a Boom Stick–which is basically a candle attached to a broom handle with duct tape.
Can you say “My Worst Nightmare”????
At least today I got to do something totally mild which oh, only involved liquid nitrogen shooting a plastic bucket 50 feet in the air but thank God there were no balloons!
And no…since I know you’re wondering…I do not still have my balloon coffin. Or the current equivalent of a balloon coffin.
But perhaps I should start…I know where to find a lot of exploded balloons…