Look up: Party Time
I went to a party today. An organization I work for holds a party for its members twice a year. It’s location a little hard to find, so they say:” “Look for the Balloons!” in the invitations.
How did balloons come to be associated with parties? Why are there balloons, at all?
I don’t like these parties all that much. They are very noisy, and it’s not my favorite way to meet strangers. I’m not supposed to only talk to people I already know, either. I’m meant to “circulate”.
“The first rubber balloons were made by Professor Michael Faraday in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London.” See? I knew I liked balloons for a reason! They’re meant for physics experiments!
The way I “circulate” at most parties is to stay in one place, and people come and go around me. I don’t run around the room saying “hello” to everyone I know. I don’t take official leave. I’m kind of rude, socially, actually.
“Balloons made from animal intestines have been known of throughout history.” Sure! Let me blow air into a piece of wildebeest gut, and send it soaring!—Well, one does what one can for entertainment.
Still, people seem to like me well enough at these events; I don’t lack for conversation. I’d rather not yell the whole time, but it’s only for a couple of hours. And then there’s the food. There is usually great food.
There are two sad things about balloons. One is when they POP and scare little children (and unsuspecting adults). Worse, though, is when I see a child holding onto her balloon by the string, and she inadvertently lets go, and it goes floating away. I want to cry along with her!
Our organization is all about lectures and seminars and discussions about science and consciousness. Exciting, but, at the same time, rather dry. It is thought by some members of the governing committee that it’s a good idea to allow our attendees to socialize; to “let their hair down.” I take a look at three people busy letting their hair down. I giggle to myself. All three happen to be bald.
And there’s the “other” kind of balloon, too; the kind that humans can ride in a basket under! The first time I saw that kind of balloon was while watching the Wizard of Oz float away in one, leaving poor Dorothy and Toto behind! For a definitive and accurate history of ballooning, I refer you to Monty Python’s excellent series on the topic:
The thing is, I don’t really understand parties. There are a lot of things I don’t understand, and this is one of them. Why are they fun? Granted, one gets to see people in a different context than usual. Perhaps see some people one hasn’t, for a while, or meet some interesting new folks. But, drink in hand; stories flying high–does this sort of social engagement really promote friendship? or business “networking”? Or–what?
My neighboring state, New Mexico, has a balloon fiesta each year; one of the largest and best known. It’s quite a sight! Look at the photos. And then, look up! You might just see one float by. Find your own story. Let your thoughts grow lofty with the air currents. Who knows? Perhaps balloons carry our wishes and desires to the gods!