That's the burning question of the day. 'Cuz after waiting for 40 minutes for the balloon lady to make her way over to our side of the restaurant, she is finally within range. And Olivia is standing at the end of our table watching her make a kitty cat, a turkey, and a butterfly balloon animal for the kids only a table away from ours. She has been so patient. When we came back from the restroom, she wanted to go over to the balloon lady right then, but I said, no - she'll be over. Roger and I ate our overcooked sampler platter and drank our pre-made mix margaritas and Carter and Olivia accepted Chevy's burnt chicken nugget offering because we came there to ride the entire ride. And that includes watching them make the tortillas and getting a balloon from the balloon man - it's usually a man.
Tonight is different. Tonight there is a balloon lady and she makes the best balloons. And there she is, she's right there right next to us and Olivia is dancing and shuddering and her face is red and the balloon lady is so much better than the balloon man, so much more precise and careful and there - she's giving a last little twist to the butterfly's antennae and pulling out her Sharpie to give it a face and handing it to the little girl and then there are the hugs and the oh, that's what I live fors and the release and the look at Olivia standing, waiting and knowing with absolute certainty that It Is Now Her Turn and what? What?
There is the scream and the devastation as the balloon lady turns and walks away from us. And all the waiting and the patience and the hoping and the almost having and it being right there her turn is crashing into her and she falls into my arms sobbing and the balloon lady looks back and sees this and still - still - she walks away.
Fucking balloon lady.
I wish I had gone with my gut and followed her. Gone right over to the other side of the room with my unraveling daughter and cornered the balloon lady and made her make my girl a turkey. But it seemed slightly irrational at the time, no matter how justified. I wish I had. Because then there wouldn't have been the ride home in the van in the dark and the sobbing and the trying to come to terms with being ditched by the balloon lady.
O: Why, Mommie, why? Why did the balloon lady not come to our table?
E: I don't know Olivia. I'm so sorry.
O: The balloon man never leaves.
E: The balloon lady was very mean.
O: Maybe she doesn't come over when little kids are crying.
E: But you weren't crying Olivia. You were waiting. You were so patient.
O: Why did she do that Mommie?
E: I don't know, honey. I'm really sorry she did that to you. That wasn't right.
And when I see the balloon lady again, and I'm going to make a point to see the balloon lady again, even if it means choking down another bad meal and possibly waiting in an incredibly long line, because she owes my girl a balloon animal and an apology. Nothing less will do. There must be a rule? A clown school rule? Oh sure. I know there is disappointment and Olivia's better off getting used to that, huh? But there's another valuable lessen here and the balloon lady needs to learn it - I will teach her - she will learn: no one has to take shit from clowns.