Tough. If you were hoping that 2023 would be, by some miraculous dent of good fortune, less crazy than 2022, you are fresh out of luck. After the collective iceberg lettuce frenzy and communal freak-out that defined last year, we now find ourselves besieged with balloons. They are, it seems, everywhere and are readying themselves to attack. I, for one, am determined not to be taken prisoner by alien spacecraft. Again. For that reason, I am digging a bunker in the backyard which, given that it’s mostly concrete, is quite difficult.
I’ll admit I’m rattled. This whole balloon thing has both come out of nowhere and come out of the sky completely without warning. It’s undermining my sense of confidence. Of the phrases I never expected to hear in my life, ‘spy balloon’ is right up there with ‘nuclear-fueled spatula’ and ‘guerilla buttons’. Once, I only had warm feelings for balloons. Now I’m convinced they’re not to be trusted.
Worse still, I’m becoming suspicious of not only balloons but party accessories more generally. The thought of party blower sends a shiver down my spine, to say nothing of the wretched, raucous noise that it makes. Conical hats are no longer just a bit of fun but thought-controlling mind clamps. The less said about streamers the better. It begs the question: how exactly did we get here?
A couple of weeks ago, a balloon appeared over North America. It was no ordinary balloon. Hovering high above the earth, it was claimed that it’d been sent by another country to spy. This alters my understanding of spying entirely. James Bond would be a very different proposition if, instead of running around and blowing things up, he was filled with helium and just floated around all day. Chances are he’d also sound different. No one would take him seriously if he said his name was ‘Bond, James Bond’ in a voice that sounded like a cross between a jockey and a chipmunk.
The spy balloon wafted around for a while, presumably collecting data, stealing people’s dreams and hiding their car keys. Even the fact that an iceberg lettuce only costs two dollars a head was not enough to prevent people from descending into a full-blown panic. The balloon had to be stopped. Preferably with an awe-inspiring display of force.
As soon as it was safe to do so, the balloon was blown out of the sky. Presumably lasers and Luke Skywalker were involved. Then, within days, there were balloons popping up all over the place. Alaska, the Canadian border and in the drawing room with a butcher’s knife; it suddenly seemed as though North America was being invaded by balloons. Much like that scene at the end of Ghostbusters where the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man attacks New York, it now appeared that balloons had come to wreak vengeance on an unsuspecting world.
They didn’t remain airbourne for long. These balloons, too, were soon dispatched to balloon heaven by cutting edge military technology. As someone who often has his balloon burst, I can’t help but wonder if there was a more cost efficient way to bring these things back to earth. I find a nasty remark often does the trick. I’d like to think that rather than a conventional weapon, the armed forces used something more appropriate to the threat they were facing. Like a giant safety pin.
Now that balloons are no longer objects of harmless whimsy but threats against humanity, things will have to change. Children’s birthday parties will only occur under military escort, lest a balloon should attempt to escape. Heaven help the child who accidentally looses control of a helium-filled balloon only to watch it float off into space. Whereas the loss of the balloon was once considered punishment enough, these kids now run the risk of being declared enemies of the state.
After a week of balloon-mania things got even worse. A White House spokesperson stated that there was “no indication of alien or extraterrestrial activity” which is exactly what you’d say if you’d just taken E.T. into custody. Rather than ruling out aliens, they made it sound as if they were waiting for the results to come back from the lab. Turns out we were way off with all that ‘flying saucer’ malarkey. ALF is coming back in something built for comfort rather than speed.
Things may well escalate. Now that the cat is well and truly out of the balloon about the whole alien thing, I feel they might try and provoke us. Surely the day can’t be too far off when giant balloon animals slowly float into view, casting a large and malevolent shadow over the city. These mega-balloon animals won’t be cute horses or dogs, but aggressive, feral creatures such as weasels and marmots, with huge, gigantic teeth that threaten us all.
Granted, you probably think I’m letting my imagination get the better of me. It’s probably true. One thing’s for sure – I’ll never look at Mr. Gasbo the same way again. Before long, they’ll probably reveal that these balloons are escaped thought bubbles from the mind of Elon Musk. So be it. But until that happens, leave me to my panic and, whatever you do, don’t burst my balloon.