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Balloon Escapades July 13, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings, Show and Tell.

The men in my family – by which I mean myself, my brother and my dad – are stereotypical one-trick ponies. We hardly ever mess with success or risk ruining a good thing. If we could start a cult around the precept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” we probably would. This predisposition of ours is most evident when it comes to my mom’s birthday.

Preparing for the “celebration” is practically routine. Dinner is a foregone conclusion, though whether we celebrate it on the day of her birthday or over the weekend is usually a toss-up (and my dad may take mom out another place fancy apart from the family dinner). My brother and I will almost always fret over what gift to get my mom. And I, for my part, will most certainly be the one to order the flowers.

But then last year my dad decided to mix things up. “I’m thinking…balloons,” he said.

A plan was hatched. I’d order balloons. My brother would help me hide it out back. Then, late at night when my dad got home, we’d all set it up for my mom to see in the morning. With that in mind, I set out to find what we needed a week in advance. When I found the right store, I took it upon myself to place the order. I asked that the balloons have a token greeting printed on each one. I figured it would be nice to have a mix of floating balloons and a bunch to leave lying around on the floor. And naturally, I couldn’t help but feel it was necessary to have balloons in the amount of a nice round number.

So I ordered a hundred of them.

I never really realized how many a hundred balloons were until I had to figure out how to transport them home (we couldn’t have them delivered if it was supposed to be a suprise). Sneaking out of the house while my mom was away, it took three trips in my dad’s SUV just to bring them over, and I had to fit them in every available space just to make it work. The most stressful part was driving “blind” without the ability to look via the rearview mirror or rear windows, especially to look out in case my mom would be coming home in her car.

Apparently, I didn’t need to worry about that, because in between the second and third trips my mom arrived home, and she was in the kitchen with the door overlooking the driveway into our garage.

In the face of that unforeseen circumstance, my brother performed one of the most amazing sequence of events I’ve ever seen. He got my mom to turn around. He went out the kitchen door. He helped me unload the last batch of balloons from the car. Then he walked right past the kitchen door with my mom’s back still to him and hid the balloons with the rest in our laundry area out back.

You just had to be there.

Then everything fell into place. When my dad came home that night and helped us with the balloons, we were all snickering silly at how many balloons we had to set up (I really went overboard with a hundred!). But the funny thing is that my mom woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and in a daze walked right smack into the middle of the balloons without noticing. Of course, when she did finally completely wake up she was very pleasantly surprised. In fact, for about two weeks after her birthday the hallway was still filled with balloons, with the floating ones gradually deflating and falling back to the ground. My dad kept insisting that the fact she kept the balloons out that long – that is, for as long as the floating ones stayed aloft – just showed how much she liked her surprise.

This year, I came home a good four days before my mom’s birthday. Thinking that to do the same thing all over again would be rather anti-climactic, I fully expected we’d fall back upon our old routine; in fact, the day after I arrived I already ordered my mom’s flowers. But then the day before my mom’s birthday, my dad walked up to my brother and me and just had to say it:

“I’m thinking…balloons.”

Thus I went off to get the balloons, knowing for certain that I’d order maybe just a dozen. But I wasn’t too sold on the idea of doing the same thing “redux”, especially on such short notice. So all on my own, I decided to mix things up.

I ordered ten balloon arrangements that came in separate flower pots.

On my way to pick up the balloon-pots, which were ready an hour later than expected right before the store closed, and three blocks away from the store, my celphone began ringing. It was my mom: she was having car trouble about twenty minutes away and needed my help. Since I was so close to the store I briefly flirted with the idea of picking up the balloons and bringing them home before coming to get mom; but realizing how hazardous that plan was to my health (you don’t ever want to keep your mom waiting, believe you me), I called the store to tell them I’d pick it up first thing in the morning and went off to perform my filial duties.

In the morning I got up bright and early and went to pick up the balloons. Thankfully, when I got back mom was holed up in her room, so I was able to smuggle in the decor right under her nose. Lacking any other alternative, I carefully laid out the balloons along our staircase then made myself scarce. Mom was certainly surprised: within a fifteen minute span (the time since she went into the room), balloons suddenly appeared in the staircase. Another birthday plan fulfilled.

That was a week ago, and the balloons are still there. She must be enjoying them a lot. I just hope she’s not waiting for them to deflate and drop to the floor before deciding to put them away. In all the excitement, I forgot to tell her that they’re not filled with helium – they’re just filled with air.



1. Anonymous - July 13, 2006

that’s one of the funniest but sweetest surprise-my-mom-on-her-birthday stories i heard.
i pray to have a son like you someday.

2. yenhttp://his_beloved.blogs.friendster.com - August 8, 2006

hahaha! yeah i remember driving a van filled with about 60 balloons with no rear view, esp for a hazardous driver like me—–but i agree, it’s amazingly sweet (esp for a team of guys!), hahaha! (thankfully we never thought of balloons during surprise bday parties during the SIF era…!)

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