Last night I went to the annual dinner for the Leadership Walton Alumni Association (LWAA, pronounced luh-WAAAAH.) I got there early to help set up. My assigned task was to blow up balloons. I joked that I was being asked to blow up balloons because I was a lawyer, and therefore full of hot air. Ha ha ha.
The packages of balloons I was handed were Illoms® LED Balloons, which were advertised to be “perfect for parties” (but, presumably, lousy for funerals), “easy to use”, (Really? Is there a difficult-to-use balloon out there somewhere?), and containing an LED light that would last 15 hours. My first thought was, “Cool.” My second thought was, “why can’t they make a package of balloons I can open without use of scissors or my teeth?” My third thought, as I bit through the package and dumped the contents out was, “Directions? For real? These are BALLOONS.”
There was a page of round stickers that came out of the package which were “deflation stickers”. There was a small picture of a balloon with someone poking it with a pin and a red X and the message “Popping is not recommended. Bursting can cause injury.” printed on it. Ok, now, I’m a lawyer, and I understand the liability need for seemingly obvious warnings, but this one is even more ridiculous than, “Coffee may be hot.” I am not aware of a single balloon popping injury that would cause anyone to sue, but then I thought, ok, maybe there is some weirdo chemical that makes the thing light up that might splat on someone and make their skin bubble. More on that later.
Anyway, you are supposed to put this little sticker around the balloon knot, and then cut it with scissors. There are three different pictures showing the application of the deflation sticker and where to cut the knot with scissors. In case that was not obvious enough, there are also written instructions, and then a bold warning “Adults only,” because apparently no 17 year old is capable of putting a sticker on a balloon and then cutting it with scissors, or perhaps doing so will lead to low morals and alcohol abuse. A balloon pump is recommended. Also, you are not supposed to blow up the balloon to more than 9” in diameter, and in case you couldn’t eyeball that well enough, a 9” paper band is included as a guide. (I instantly ripped the 9”paper band while trying to slip it around the first balloon.)
But we are not done. No. There were these long plastic-y joobies which you had to pull out of the mouth of the balloon prior to inflating which, of course, were printed with instructions. You can’t just yank them out. You have to hold the tip of the balloon while yanking it out. You are also instructed to yank (they said ‘pull’, but ‘yank’ is a much funnier word, don’t you think?) it out prior to inflating the balloon, in case you thought that maybe you were supposed to choke on the plastic-y joobie while blowing it up, or, if you were strictly following all the recommendations, work the balloon pump around it.
Naturally, I was over-confident and messed up the first balloon. I held the tip of the balloon, yanked out the plastic-y joobie, and blew it up. No light came on. The engineer in the group fixed it by banging it against a table until the light came on. After trial and error I came to the conclusion that you couldn’t just hold the tip of the balloon, you had to hold the whole internal device thing at the tip of the balloon which contained the led light. And then came disaster. (Cue threatening music.) I was blowing up a balloon and as I was blowing, the thing popped. (I swear it was under 9”, even though I wasn’t using the band. It was more like 5”-6” when it popped.) I am happy to say that no one was injured, nor were there any face maiming chemicals inside. What was inside what basically a little LED Christmas light attached to a small power source housed in plastic. I guess you could put an eye out with that thing if you popped the balloon with a pin instead of carefully utilizing the deflation rings, but seriously. You could also put an eye out with your coffee table if you fell into it the wrong way, or a ball-point pen if you sneezed while holding one and accidentally jabbed it into your eye as part of the involuntary sneeze-reflex that makes you fling your body out in all kinds of embarrassing directions.
The point is this: life is short, and just obey the last step of the balloon instructions, the only truly meaningful instruction on or in the entire package, which is “Enjoy!”