Most of the other parents dropped off their kids and left, but Harold was determined to be fun. After ten years in a company that offered no satisfaction, he had taken time off to meet his 7-year-old for the first time. Josie’s parents were good hosts, and they wanted him to feel welcome, though he had no reason to stay. They gave him a reason.
“Why don’t you blow up some of these balloons?”
His daughter had already run off to play, and though he wanted to spend time with her, that would come. Right now, he just had to be available. He thanked Josie’s parents, and started on the pile.
The balloons were small and stiff. He put one in his mouth and tried to blow, but he wasn’t expecting so much resistance. Josie’s mom laughed at him. “No, you’ve got to pull at it a little.” She grabbed one and massaged it in her hand, stretching it in repetitive motions forward and back. Harold watched her with great fascination.
He mirrored her motions. As she brought the latex to her mouth, he paused. She filled the balloon in one continuous contorted breath. When she removed it from her lips, she gasped as air slid back into her. She tied the balloon off in one smooth gesture. She hadn’t overfilled it. The balloon was comfortable, not overstretched, and still retained a healthy areola. “Now you try.”
His balloon looked just like hers. He grabbed it with both hands and rubbed his fingers across the top. He made a slight moan, he hoped a subtle one.
Josie’s mom smiled, as if at a joke. Josie’s dad looked at him. His daughter and friends looked at him.
He coughed. “Excuse me.” He would meet his daughter eventually. Maybe after prom.