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Nora Blithe on Balloon Death Match Meleah Rebeccah on Balloon Death Match Nora Blithe on Balloon Death Match
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Through the years, I’ve seen bosses do desperate things to promote their businesses: Spend $400 save thirty cents!, Buy a mattress, win a free EyePad! or Sign up two friends for a Pap smear get a free mammography!
Another, more subtle brush with Leadership Letdown came when the owner of an antique store I once worked for promoted a furniture sale with balloons.
“Look at this,” Kelly snapped when I walked in the door. Four red, helium balloons with cherry red strings were tied to the back of a chair.
“What are those for,” I asked.
“We’re supposed to put them out to promote the sale,” Jess said.
“So,” I shrugged.
“So? So, we have to write ‘SALE’ on them with markers,” she snapped back.
“They couldn’t even spring for balloons with ‘SALE’ already written on them,” I asked.
“That’s not the point,” Kelly said. “The point is that balloons pop when you write on them.”
I stepped back. “I’m terrified of balloons popping near my face,” I told them.
“So are we,” said Kelly.
We paused and stared at the black, ominous markers and their unknowing victims bobbing happily on the chair.
I eased toward the door.
“Don’t even think about it,” Jess snapped at me. “You’re the marketing director. You should handle the balloons.”
“Those balloons weren’t my idea,” I retorted. “What are we? A used car lot? Besides, Jess, you have the best handwriting.”
She shot me an ugly look and I knew I’d won.
She picked up a marker, removed its cap and slowly walked toward the balloons.
She gave us a nervous grin. “How bad can it be?”
She gently and steadily touched the marker to the balloon and BLAMO the balloon exploded!
We screamed in terror and threw our arms up to protect our faces. Two customers left the store. Buying antiques wasn’t worth the risk.
“I’m done,” Jess said. “Kelly,” she retrieved the marker from the corner she flung it to and passed it off.
Kelly shook her head no.
“You can do it,” I said supportively. I knew who would have to do it if she refused.
Kelly untied a balloon from the chair and moved away from the remaining, intact balloons.
“Just in case,” she said. I wasn’t sure what she meant but I nodded anyway.
Her hand shook as she moved the marker toward the balloon. Suddenly, the balloon slipped free!
“It’s loose,” Kelly screamed.
I shrieked and dove for the floor. In the background, I could hear Jess screaming.
Then, there was silence.
The balloon bobbed harmlessly against the ceiling.
Sheepishly we grinned at each other.
Without a word, Jess took the balloons outside and let them go.
“We don’t get paid enough to risk our lives,” she said.
It is with great sadness that we report that columnist and celebrated American humorist Nora Blithe died today at the age of 35. She is survived by her husband Brian, her dog Starla and her two cats, Kit and “that good-for-nothing-pillow-hog” Seti.
Her family reports she died peacefully in bed surrounded by one pet cat who though he only weighs eight pounds, manages to take the entire pillow every single night.
Her death is being blamed on the recent winter storms that hit the southeast. She did not lose power, she had plenty of food but she failed to buy bread and milk.
“I warned her,” says self-professed BFF Cecelia Queen. “I told her again and again, ‘You need bread and milk. It doesn’t matter that you’re gluten and lactose intolerant. You’ll never survive that storm without bread and milk.’ And I was right.”
And she was right.
The storm raged for three days covering Nora’s home of Greenville, South Carolina in a blanket of fluffy white snow.
“She’s from the south,” her husband Brian said. “She had absolutely no idea how to drive in snow. She could barely drive if there was ice on the windshield. Once the first flakes fell, she was homebound till spring.”
When asked why he didn’t go for bread and milk, the Pittsburg native replied, “But we don’t eat bread or drink milk. Nora does this, I mean, did this Paleo diet thing where you don’t eat grains or dairy. Very healthy. Very dull. Now that’s she’s gone I’ll probably revert to eating chips and beer for dinner. I’m sure going to miss her ability to help me eat healthy.”
Friends held a vigil Friday night. They surrounded themselves with photos of Nora. One notable picture, which featured Nora’s good side, was larger than the rest and ringed with balloons. A strange tribute since it’s well know that Nora was terrified of balloons.
“It’s a real tragedy,” says neighbor Stefanie Oldpass who attended the vigil. “Who will watch my cats when I go out of town? I mean, do you know how hard it is to get someone to scoop a litter box that four cats have used? You can’t find a sucker like that just anywhere.”
A large man in attendance who calls himself Dave said, “What is a milk sandwich anyway?”
What is a milk sandwich indeed? Why would an otherwise healthy, charming, delightful young woman die in a snowstorm when she didn’t lose heat or power or even the ability to shop online?
Do bread and milk hold so much power over human life?
Answers we may never know.
Are you noticing some changes in your partner? Will Valentine’s Day live up to your expectations? Is he a little less romantic than in years past? Is she a tiny bit less interested in her appearance that she used to be?
Could it be time to sample the waters of a new relationship with a partner who seems more interested in you than they are in themselves?
If you think your relationship might not be living up to expectations, use the following guide to give it an evaluation.
1) For Valentine’s Day, he gives you a stack of manila envelopes and a stapler since you, “Seem to like working so much. You’re always there.”
Meanwhile, he insisted you buy him a tool belt and a power sander. Sadly, you suspect the only use the sander will get is when you use it to buff the corns off his feet.
2) For Valentine’s Day, you take her to an upscale restaurant that you can only afford after robbing a bank. After selling your plasma for five months, you’ve finally saved up the money to treat her to the lobster dinner.
She wines that her soup is too cold, her bread is too hot and she belches the entire alphabet to prove that wine can cause as much gas as beer.
3) He institutes the Sports Time Out rule where you’re not allowed to speak to him during football season, baseball season, hockey season or basketball season unless there is a commercial break on all four stations that he simultaneously watches or it’s between the hours of 3:12 and 4:02 AM.
4) During your last four conversations with her, she outlined how you weren’t living up to her expectations. You didn’t so much mind that she complained you don’t do the dishes because you don’t but you thought the 10’ line graph comparing you to her ex-boyfriend was a little over the top.
5) On your last date, you “coincidentally” ran into three of his friends at the pool hall. You spent the evening toting pitchers of beer from the bar to the pool table and were forced to listen to the same four songs play on the jukebox—songs he picked out and paid for.
At the end of the night, he forgot you and you took a taxi home.
6) You got your credit card bill. You don’t remember buying six pairs of shoes, a $700 sweater or 24 karat gold earrings. When you call your girlfriend’s cell phone to ask her about the charges, a man named Biff answers and says she’ll call you back when she gets out of the shower.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time to ditch your current partner and move on.
“I hate Valentine’s Day,” my husband announced. “You women have it so easy. All you have to do is dress up. Men have to wine and dine you, buy you an expensive gift and deliver romance. What man can deliver romance?”
He had a point. I decided it was time to spice things up a bit. Ten years of marriage and I’d gotten away with merely shaving my legs and wearing a skirt for Valentine’s Day.
He’d hit his limit on my dial-it-in efforts. It was time to pull out the big guns even if it meant doing something I hate more than going to the dentist.
I went shopping for new lingerie.
Typically, I buy my undergarments in the farthest, darkest corner of large department stores where not even the sales ladies can see what I’ve selected. Places where risqué words like “panties” are only uttered in a whisper.
But the pressure to deliver romance drove me a to a specialty boutique. Naturally, the store was surrounded on four sides by large picture windows, one of which overlooked the mall food court. I shoved my bangs over my eyes and tried to sneak in.
The store’s staff was made up of perky teenagers. They wouldn’t need any of the items that the store sold for four more years. One bubbled up to me.
“Can I help you?” she asked loudly. Chewing in the food court stopped and people turned to watch.
“I’m looking for something for Valentine’s Day,” I whispered.
“Oh! You want something sexy!” she shouted back. “Right this way!”
The eyes in the food court followed us to a display in the window. The sales girl reached for a hanger and showed me its contents. A mass of ribbons and bows wriggled on the hanger.
“What is it?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s a teddy.” She didn’t say the word “duh” but it was implied. She pointed to a display mannequin that was modeling the teddy.
The mannequin looked like Mummy Barbie barely wrapped in ribbons and satin. I blushed.
“Um, no. No thanks,” I backed up rapidly and crashed into a table of strings that the employees called “thongs.”
I dashed for the door.
Later, I phoned my husband. “I was thinking about what you said about Valentine’s Day. It is overrated. What do you say this year we stay in and order a pizza instead?”
I rolled over and smiled at the peace that surrounded me. All was tranquil in my home. I took a deep relaxing breath.
And inhaled a fuzzy from my pillow.
It stuck to the back of my throat. I sat up abruptly. My eyes bulged and I grabbed at my neck.
I coughed forcefully trying to expel the furry object gripping the back of my throat.
I had a sudden and horrible thought. What if it’s a bug?
I hoped it was a fuzzy. I hoped it wasn’t a bug. Ever since the cat brought a roach in the bed, I’m a bit sensitive to these things.
I tried to shove the image of a small black bug stuck to the back of my throat from my mind. Instead, I concentrated on expelling the offending bug, no roach, ahhhhhhh no! FUZZY! It’s a FUZZY!
I coughed again and again but it didn’t budge. Don’t think about clinging bug feet. Don’t think about clinging bug feet, I thought over and over
I rolled onto hands and knees and hacked will all the might of my lungs. The fuzzy dislodged, flew from my mouth and landed on the pillow.
I didn’t look closer to confirm fuzzy-hood status. I choose to believe it was a fuzzy. Therefore a fuzzy it was.
I snatched my pillow up and dumped the fuzzy onto the floor.
My husband continued to snore, oblivious to my near death experience. I hoped I never had a real emergency in the middle of the night. If I did, I was a goner for sure.
I wanted to go back to sleep but the raw spot in my throat wouldn’t let me. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water. I chugged the whole thing in case of, you know, bug cooties.
I returned to bed and was greeted by the slightly glowing eyes and level stare of the cat. I realized that he had watched the entire encounter from his bed on the nightstand. He stared at me with a certain knowing.
Somehow, I knew exactly what he was thinking.
“Yep, I told him. Now I know what it feels like to have a hairball.”
I supposed I would have to stop being annoyed that he hacked them on the carpet rather than the linoleum. I sighed and went back to sleep.
He was dressing for work. The ironing board stood open in front of him. A blue dress shirt lay on it, half pristine, half wrinkled.
He set the iron down and took the sheets of paper I thrust at him. He’s a good sport – and he irons.
He turned his back on me and began reading. I retreated a discrete distance and quietly sipped coffee.
He snickered as softly as he could. My ears perked at the sound and I tried to estimate which line made him laugh based on how long he had been reading. I didn’t dare ask.
He rounded his shoulders and hunched over the column. He took a few steps away from me.
He laughed aloud then clamped a hand over his mouth.
I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Which part made you laugh,” I asked. “Was it the line about my feet sticking out into the room or the ‘unholy deluge’?”
He rolled his eyes. “The ‘unholy deluge,’” he said regretfully.
“Why won’t you ever laugh out loud in front of me when you read my columns? Any why won’t you tell me what parts you find funny?” It was an irritating habit of his. I swear he did it to punish me.
Like the great husband he is, Brian dutifully reads my columns. I think he even enjoys most of them but he tries never to let me see him laugh when he reads them.
“I don’t want to give you the satisfaction,” he smirked.
“The satisfaction of what? Hearing you laugh?”
“Yeah, I know you. You like to think you’re funny,” he replied.
“You do know that I write my columns to make people laugh. On purpose,” I said for emphasis.
“I know and you think you’re funny enough. I don’t want to feed into it,” he smiled at me letting me know he was teasing.
I laughed. “You’re right. I do think I’m funny but that’s not why I write.”
“Why do you do it then,” he asked.
“Because life is hard. We get up, we go to work, we’re treated rudely by total strangers, we face challenges that others never see. I like to give people a little escape, even if just for a moment. Besides, if you can’t laugh at life it will get the better of you. I try to make people laugh to brighten their day, not mine.”
He watched me thoughtfully. “I didn’t know that,” he said. “That’s a really admirable goal.”
“Does that mean you’re going to laugh in front of me when you read my columns now?”
“Never,” he grinned. “You might let brightening other people’s day go to your head!”
“How was your day,” I asked my husband Brian. He had just returned home from work.
“Terrible,” he replied.
“Why,” I said concerned. “What happened?”
“After my morning meeting,” he began.
He frequently used the phrase “morning meeting” as a metaphor. I needed clarification.
“An actual meeting,” I interrupted, “or is ‘morning meeting’ code for a bathroom break?”
“The latter,” he said. “After my morning meeting I realized that my fly was down.”
“Go on,” I prompted.
“I tried to zip it up but something was wrong. The zipper wasn’t just down but it had gone all wonky and it wouldn’t zip.”
“Ahhh zipper disease,” I said knowingly. “That’s bad.”
The fly of his pants wouldn’t zip. At work. “That’s really bad,” I amended.
“I couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t work with my fly down so I left the store and went next door to the discount clothing store to buy a new pair of pants.”
“That explains the horizontal crease in the legs.” He religiously irons every morning. It was strange to see him with wrinkles or a crease going the wrong way.
“But it gets worse,” he moaned.
“Do tell,” I leaned in.
“I found pants in my size, paid and hurried back to my store but when I put the new pants on I realized they were tagged wrong.”
“You should have tried them on,” I chided. I’d spent years trying to convince him to try clothes on before he bought them.
“I usually wear a 33 and these say 33 but they’re closer to a 30. It was physically painful to put them on. I mean it hurt!”
He imitated wearing the tight pants and clutched at his waist.
“You’re still wearing them,” I pointed out.
He lifted his shirt and pointed to his waist. The button was undone and the pants stayed up.
“You know, if you were self employed this wouldn’t have happened,” I told him.
“If I were self employed I would still have to wear pants,” he retorted.
“True, but you would have more flexibility to try things on if you weren’t on someone else’s schedule,” I replied.
He grinned sheepishly. “Maybe but I would still have to try the pants on before I bought them.”
I laughed. “Have you learned your lesson?”
“What do you think?”
I think he has a lot to learn about buying clothes.