As you may or may not have judged from previous shark posts I have plenty of rational fears, but it turns out I also possess just a single member of the irrational variety: Balloons.
As far back as I can remember I’ve never been too comfortable around anything that has considerable amounts of (stored) potential energy, whether it be champagne bottles (pre-un-corking), gas cylinders, even everyday objects like unopened carbonated bottles or deodorant cans. It also applies to heights if there’s a good possibility of falling (gravitational potential energy), and for some reason I always gravitate precariously towards the very edges I’m trying to avoid. And of course this includes spring-loaded mechanisms, though more of the industrial sort.
This in itself is quite reasonable and rational, I assure you, as these things can dramatically release their stored energy at the slightest change of temperature or as the result of a feather-light touch or for no perceivable reason at all. So they are to be treated with suspicion.
But the balloon is a special case. Although probably scoring quite low on the ‘lethality’ spectrum of stored energy devices, they nevertheless remain my biggest irrational fear. Let’s look at the evidence. The typical balloon is designed to:
- Inflate so as to be almost transparent
- Be cheap, easily accessible and deployed en-masse
- Burst at the slightest provocation
- Be played with (violently) by children at the age of poor motor skills
- Be played with by children who think loud explosions are fun or that the balloon has the roughly same durability as a soccer ball.
- Exist in a variety of easily identifiable bright colours to attract said children
- Decorate parties featuring either hoards of youngsters ultra-hyped on MSG (621), or inebriated adults on… I don’t know, probably inexpensive rum and/or some sort of vodka-and-sugar-based drink
- Be tantalising sources of combustive entertainment for the above parties when things get out of hand
In short, balloons are designed to explode and encourage people to make it happen. Not like fireworks (where one hopes the operator knows what they are doing and requiring a ignition catalyst anyway) but like cheerfully coloured land-mines for the claw-like mitts of reckless and careless individuals often below the criminal age of responsibility. Hell! They even bite them! *Shudder*
There must be far stricter limits regarding these time-bombs; restricting maximum inflation, increasing handling-age requirements, and lowering the allowed blood-alchohol toxicity of attending adults. Also all balloons should be securely attached to a surface at least two meters above the ground, and may never be handed in their singular form to minors.
Anyway, that’s my irrational phobia, and I swerve like there’s no tomorrow when I see a pram with a toddler attempting to strangle a balloon with its python-esque grip.