Balloons are illegal in my hometown. There is no rhyme or reason behind the law; they’re simply outlawed- like flying kites, or consuming alcohol, or fucking in public.
Each morning, children are patted down by strange men and women as they enter schools. It’s become the norm. Balloon bearing children are separated from the rest, and forced to stand in various corners of various unfurnished rooms- extended time outs, if you will. They cry and cry and cry. Yet the next day there are repeat offenders. Stupid, you say? You should know better.
Do you know that the average child spends eighty seconds a day thinking about balloons? No? I thought so. Did you know that the balloon industry surpasses the condom industry by a long shot? No? You’d be surprised. Did you know that balloons account for 1/3 of the happiness of the world? No? Enlighten yourself. So on and so forth.
As fabricated as my statistics may be, the Ghobara Busters are very real! Teams of self-proclaimed vigilantes raid households and confiscate all kinds of balloons. Red balloons? Gotta go. Water balloons? I’ll take that ma’am. Foil balloons? Foiled. Weather balloons? Tut tut, you’re better off not knowing. In most cases parents are sent to rehab for balloon addictions and intent to supply balloons, while their sons and daughters are adopted by a senior GB- forever. In some cases, however, the GBs can be more lenient, allowing families to be united once the parents serve above five years in prison. This is usually because someone higher up in the GBs hierarchy vouches for the parents.
Any mention or instance of balloons in movies and television is censored out routinely. The Carl Fredricksen, in the acclaimed Up, all of a sudden seems to have an armchair that lifts off as it wills. The 1956 Albert Lamorisse featurette, The Red Balloon, simply became The Red, and makes no sense whatsoever. So on and so forth.
The GBs have slogans like “Your balloon, my terrorist” and “Make love not balloons.” They rank from “Balloon Patrol Officer” to “Supervisor Darts” to “Chief Executive Balloonmaster,” and are often seen in trios. It’s a ridiculous sight to witness and people don’t exactly know why they’re plucking out balloons from the sky with such innate marksmanship.
The GBs, without exception, wear protective clothing and blinders so they don’t get distracted easily. Once, many years ago, a group of GBs fell in love with balloons after they saw a two-year old girl playing with one that was polka-dotted. This resulted in the group releasing all balloons in their possession to a passersby. The passerby, puzzled by the situation, had scattered the balloons across town, which eventually led to the first balloon revolution. It was a media nightmare, and the GBs’ reputation suffered a massive blow. Some GBs were gunned down at public gatherings. Others were captured and put on display outside latex factories. This revolution was short lived. With new funding, and with a new code of operation, the GBs came back stronger than ever, fighting violence with violence. Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before balloons were gathered up again and set on fire. So on and so forth.
At the end of the year, the GB who nabs the most balloons gets a preemptive presidential pardon. He or she is free to commit one crime- any crime- and get amnesty. Past crimes have included bank robberies, drug trafficking, blasphemy, and fucking in public. Go figure. There’s been no murders so far, but the town anxiously awaits one.
One Ghobara Buster, in specific, was an asshole cut from a cloth above the rest of the assholes. His title “District Balloon Inspector,” was misleading. Round, sleazy and toxic, you could smell the latex (or maybe it was rubber) off him from a few blocks away. We would waddle like the Penguin in Batman, and spat regularly. Legend has it that he held balloon conventions in other towns and enticed balloon aficionados to migrate to my hometown. He would then raid them within the week. Everyone hated him the most, that pompous fucker, but with the law on his side, there was very little people could do. On he went, wobbling, beaming, spitting, flashing his badge. DBI. DBfuckingI.
Politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers have speculated for a while now. Why would something as joyful and innocent as a balloon be considered a town-wide threat? Were balloons harmful? A friend told me once that she had suffered third degree burns all over her body after lighting a hydrogen balloon on fire. But then why wasn’t hydrogen outlawed instead? Was it because there was a shortage of latex or rubber? My town was actually producing more latex and rubber than residents could possibly utilize! Was it because of environmental reasons? If so, why did they burn them to make things worse. Were people using them as condoms? Yes, but that’s besides the point; they could buy condoms from stores even if the balloons never existed in the first place. So on and so forth.
The GBs’ social media team is not helpful in addressing these speculations, remaining mostly silent on the issue. Occasionally, the team would tweet, “Fuck balloons!” or “Balloons are for losers!” The hashtag “#GBsInAction” often accompanied photographs and video footage of the GBs’ raids. The Twitter page has 400k followers. My town has 10k residents.
We’re currently hard at work, planning a second revolution, a mightier and more aligned revolution that rids this town of the Ghobara Busters once and for all. Gut ’em at the roots. Anagram International, the largest manufacturer of foil balloons in the world, has provided us with enough munitions for a small army.
Call me, email me, tweet at me- find me. Balloons were never meant to hang this low.