I’d be a terrible mom because I can’t blow up balloons. Never could. I hiss and spit and just about explode, but the balloon stays limp.
I don’t have any need to blow up balloons, but life has been all about air lately. My car tires suddenly needed more air when the temperature dropped into the low 40s this week. Hello, Les Schwab, where a kid who looked to be about 12 years old did what I felt unable to do myself. Where did the air go? Why doesn’t it just stay in the tire? And who ever decided we would ride on rubber circles filled with air? It sounds crazy.
A Google search led me to this article on tires and the invention of the inner tube in 1845, quickly followed by the invention of the flat tire.
But mostly my attention has been on the blue inner tube-like inflatable collar my dog Annie wore post-knee surgery to keep her from licking her incision. Why not use the traditional plastic cone of shame? Because it’s cruel. The dog can’t see, can’t eat, can’t drink. The collar is easier on both of us—if it would just stay inflated.
We had three weeks of hard caregiving, starting with 12 pills a day and me constantly watching to make sure Annie didn’t get to her wound or overuse the leg which has been restructured with plates and screws.
And blowing air into the stupid collar. We had three different collars in three weeks. Air, it seems, is a hard thing to hold onto. Being a lousy balloon blower, I gave up and tried to use my late husband’s air compressor. It plugs into the car, forcing me to sit inside with the engine running while I direct air into the rubber nozzle. I couldn’t make it work at first. Desperate, I ran to the handy neighbor for help. He hooked it to a machine in his garage and had it blown up in seconds.
A week later, the collar sprang a leak. I woke up to find Annie licking her knee. No! The staples hoping her incision together were gone. But maybe it was okay. A nice scab had formed. Maybe the incision had healed enough to let her go commando.
Wrong. Fifteen minutes before I had to leave to play music for the 5:00 Mass on the Saturday nine days after her surgery, Annie sat in the back yard and licked the whole thing wide open while I was getting dressed. Cursing, I dragged her across the street and borrowed the neighbor dog’s plastic cone to get us through Mass. Annie went berserk, banging into me and knocking down furniture. I had to leave; the choir was waiting. God bless the neighbor who sat with her while I did Mass and went to the Mini Pet Mart to buy another inflatable collar.
Collar number two was too big, even though the measurements on the box were correct for a 20-inch neck. Annie slipped out of it during the night and again while I was taking a bath. She chewed up her wound. Ate the bandage I’d put on it.
We just had to get to her vet appointment on Monday, I thought, counting the hours till we’d be free.
No, said the vet. Look how red and oozy it is. She needs to wear the collar for another week and take another round of antibiotics. Back to the Mini Pet Mart, where Annie knocked over a display of jerky treats while I exchanged the giant collar for collar number three, my favorite because it glowed in the dark. That one worked until last Thursday, when it flattened from an inner tube to a cumbersome necklace. Rats.
I was not going to bother the neighbor again. I was not going to sit in my car trying to work the compressor either. I was going to blow it up with my own mouth if it killed me. Phew, phew, phew. Ow, my lungs. Deep breaths. I’m a smart woman. I could figure this out, right? What if I put my lips in the same position I learned in my failed attempt to learn to play the flute? OMG, it worked. Finally a use for my embouchure!
My success was short-lived. By bedtime, the collar was half flat. By morning, it was useless. I blew it up again and again, trying to keep it going just a little longer. Finally, Annie’s wound had healed enough. Hallelujah.
This morning, I gave her the last of her antibiotics. Collar-free, she can use the doggie door again, so I don’t have to escort her out to do her business. She still limps, she still has a bald back left leg, and I still keep looking at her incision to make sure it hasn’t opened up. But we seem to be past the worst of it.
I paid the first installment of the vet bill this morning, and I’ve got two limp collars sitting on the washing machine. I never did locate the leaks. I pray we never need to go through this again. But at least now I can blow up the inner tubes inside the collars by myself. I have also figured out the compressor, just in case.
Did you know there are YouTube videos on how to blow up a balloon? You’ve got to watch this one from Gregg the Balloon Guy. It’s funny, helpful, and he is so cute I think I’m in love. He also offers a solution if your mouth isn’t working: a balloon pump. Only about $5 online. He says all the good balloon guys use them.
I wondered who decided you could trap air inside things like balloons, inner tubes, tires and balls. How do you capture something that is neither solid nor liquid? Google had answers, of course.
This article explains how balloons were invented in 1824.
Check out this history of soccer balls.
Just for fun, here’s a piece on the invention of bubble wrap.
Why is there air? To blow up basketballs. That’s what Bill Cosby said on one of his comedy albums back when everybody loved him and “me too” was what you said when an adult asked, “Who wants ice cream?”
For now, I’m just happy to breathe air in and out and watch Annie do the same without an inflatable collar.
Can you blow up balloons? What’s the secret?