“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

The 6th Birthday Party Balloons Caper


It was the day before Joanna Leigh’s 6th birthday party, which these days is almost as bad as the day before Christmas, since six-year-olds think their birthday is bigger than Christmas. I don’t know how long that belief lasts, but just in case, to improve behavior, I’ll start invoking “your next birthday party” instead of Santa Claus.

 The planning and most of the execution was done. We would have it at our neighborhood pool, the bouncy castle would go outside the fenced-in pool area, and they could just run back and forth from one to the other. I dreamed that this plan would wear them all out. I had yet to go to Sam’s for the cake, the Dollar Store for the favors, and Food World for the balloons. So off I went, tearing around like a normal-aged parent instead of a 70-year-old parenting grandmother. Aaaarrrgghhhh.

 I soon found out it’s those damned balloons you have to watch out for.

The calendar said May 24; the north breeze said this is very weird for May in Alabama; I said “thank you!” I got the cake, a princessity creation in pink and dyed-crisco flowers. The unusually cool weather let me get it home without its melting into the seat.


The 6th Birthday Party Princess Cake


I put off going for the balloons so that they still would be floating for the party. I got the favors.

 Finally I headed for Food World. I ordered 20 balloons of several colors and one mylar pink princesses creation to match the cake and went for all the other supplies are they were getting their shot of helium. I came back to the balloon niche and looped them around my wrist. In the checkout line I could see the other people smiling and laughing to themselves as I struggled with getting my wallet out, paying, keeping ahold of the balloons, and heading for the door. Out I went, not looking back.

 “Oh, man,” I said out loud when the door opened. The wind was trying to blow the balloons into the Universe, tightening the ribbons around my wrist. Thankfully, I had the parking place closest to the door. I pushed the buggy and pulled back the balloons, pushed the buggy and pulled back the balloons. I struggled to get the back of the SUV open and the 20 balloons stuffed into the car. Then it hit me.

I had let go of the buggy.

 “Oh, shit,” I said too loud as I watched the buggy rolling the 150-yard parking lot, all downhill, toward the curb butting up to the highway. I heard laughing behind me. I turned. A woman at the door was howling with laughter as she shouted between guffaws, “I really would help you if I could!” I just threw one free arm up in the air and shouted, “Don’t worry. I can’t even help my own self!” I managed to slam the back hatch shut, wondering in a flash how many balloons I’d popped.

I turned back to the buggy’s downhill event just as it hit the curb. It stopped and somehow stayed on the ground, but the groceries flew up into the air like firecrackers.

 “This is entirely refuctious,” I screamed. I hopped into the car and headed for the curb.

 I got there in time to see the yogurt from several tubs that had ejected into the air like the space shuttle all sprayed onto the grass. Liters of soda were spewing around on the ground like bottle rockets. The cantaloupe took out the cheese straws, smashing them to smithereens, as I later learned.

 I grabbed up what I could and laid rubber getting out of there. Somebody later said, “I’d have just left the stuff there and drove off.”


Stuffed balloons“But the party, it was about the 6th birthday party,” I replied.


I had to go to the grocery store yesterday. I dreaded seeing someone who recognized me as the dodo involved in last week’s balloon caper. Being a 70-year-old parenting grandmother has its ups and downs, but this was as sideways as it gets.


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