[Note: When I saw Joan H's wonderful post just now, and then saw the photo, I almost shouted. Didn't want to scare my daughter or the animals so I pulled back in the nick of time. Then I remembered having put up this post a year ago in a week. So. Here's Joan's Balloon Lady's hubby, maybe.]
My dad found him in the white, a plaster figure in a crafts store. My mom was the artisan who painted him. I was a child when this took place, but I remember the bathos.
An emotional tyrant, my dad made a big deal out of the balloon man, how sad he looks trying to sell his balloons, how sad, look, you can see how tired and weary he is, look how he slumps, poor old man, trying to make a living selling balloons, nobody wants his balloons, how sad, look...
Yeah yeah yeah. He wanted us kids to cry, I guess. I likely bought into it. Usually did. Not only so he'd stop, but I probably started seeing what he saw. Poor old balloon man. I had empathy, more than I needed, getting the message somehow that if I didn't become a lawyer like my dad I'd end up selling balloons like this poor old guy.
My mom was quick to pick up on my dad's indulgences. She tried always to see the bright side of things, and usually found it, but when he wanted her to get weepy over something, she could do it.
She threw herself enthusiastically into painting the balloon man. It was the only one of her craft projects I recall he took a particular interest in. He advised her on how to make the balloon man's face look weary and sad. She did. Lines on his hands. He might have had suggestions about the colors as well. I remember hearing the conversations and recall a snatch or two here and there about what was said. Balloon Man was a joint project.
My mom gave me Balloon Man before she died. He sits on the bookcase to my right, watching me as I type here, reminding me how sad I will be if I end up like him, slumped on a park bench somewhere, clutching a bunch of balloons nobody wants. Alone.
He helps keep me on track, typing. No damned balloon-selling for me, unless the economy really tanks. Then, who knows.
Thinking about him this morning I did what I always do when pondering a new post. Googled. Thought maybe I could find a story about Balloon Man other than my own. All I could find was Balloon Couple. I feel better now. Balloon Man is no longer alone.
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
and the goat-footed