200 Balloons

Posted on 2022.03.17

What I thought was a strange request turned out to be one of the funniest dates I’ve ever had. I was told that I’d be meeting this Gentleman at a hotel and to arrive at 2:22 pm. Two. Twenty. Two. Not before. Not after. But right at 2:22. I almost had the driver show up at 2:15 just so I could see what would happen, but I decided to play by the rules.

When I arrived at 2:22 I was greeted by the sweetest looking face you could imagine and a room filled with hundred balloons. They were in various colours and sizes and they were everywhere. This man had booked a suite and filled it with balloons. He was so happy to see me and excitedly handed me a room service menu, promising me that we were going to work up an appetite.

I settled in and placed my order. Once he finished calling it in, he came over to where I was sitting and handed me a small jewellery box, which caught me off guard until I opened it.

Inside were six very large pins. The balloons were starting to make a little more sense. I smiled and thanked him for the pins…?

“You think I’m weird, don’t you?”

“I don’t think YOU’RE weird. But I’m in a room filled with hundreds of –”

“Two hundred.”

“TWO hundred balloons and six pins. I’ll be honest luv, that’s a little weird.”

When he was a kid, he never had balloons at his birthday parties. Candles. Cake. Streamers. But no balloons. His mother had a phobia about them. Balloons had become this forbidden thing for him; something other people had but he couldn’t. When he was 16, he went to a friend’s birthday party and the girl he had a crush on was there. There were also balloons everywhere and he didn’t think much of them until he saw his crush sit on one while someone else popped it. That loud pop and her squeals of delight combined the forbidden and the desired into one teenaged fantasy that just got bigger as he got older.

Now things were falling into place. He wanted me to sit on the balloons as he popped them. Turns out that this is what he had done in the past for other birthdays – yes it was his birthday but he hadn’t said that until then. This year, he decided that he wanted to also sit while someone else popped. With one added request.

It had to be random. For the rest of our time, I just had to grab a balloon and either sit on it to be popped or make him sit on it to be popped. I started to laugh and he looked sad until I explained that I was going to have so much doing this. He caught the mischief in my eyes and said, “we can start after we eat. There are a lot of balloons and you may work up a sweat—”

Right at that moment, room service arrived. I could see the look on the server’s face and it matched my own from when I had walked into the room just a little while earlier. Two hundred is a lot of balloons in one space.

While he signed for the order, I quietly reached for a balloon close to the sofa and pulled out a pin…

POP!

The server gave a little jump as one might expect, but the look on the Gentleman’s face as he closed the door and turned to me?

I see why he liked them so much.

I was strategic about my popping too. We had ordered a bunch of small plates and desserts, and it was easy to pop between bites of food. He was right. I needed my energy. Especially towards the end when the food was done but there were many balloons left to be popped.

For one, I made him sit on the edge of the bed, and hold a balloon between his knees while keeping his eyes closed. He had no idea when I was going to do it, andI just kept talking about whatever until…

POP.

When I think back on it, I wonder if anyone in the rooms near us complained about all the noise. But at the time, no one knocked or called, so we just kept popping until all the balloons were done.

Which meant our time was also over.

As I put on my shoes, I looked over at him and saw he was so happy and looked completely spent. I asked him why he asked me to arrive at 2:22. There was nothing special about the time. He just picked a random time. The 200 balloons was a reference to a line from one of his favourite movies. I asked him if he was celebrating his birthday any other way and with a shy smile, he explained that his wife was on her way to spend the rest of the night with him.

Turns out, she also had a phobia about balloons and our date was her gift to him.

Not so strange after all.

Photo by Pexels

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