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Charles the Clown Story Time

The Very Big Balloon
By Charles Kraus


 Tuesday was the start of a new year.   The world was having another birthday, and so, of course, Charles The Clown had been invited to the New Years Day party to make balloon animals for everyone.


Thousands of people sent their balloon animal requests to Charles on Monday so he could have their balloons ready by the time the party began.  Seven hundred and forty-one people wanted red balloons twisted in the shape of dogs, 367 people wanted blue balloons that looked like monkeys, 22 people asked Charles to make magenta  butterflies, and 75 people wrote to tell Charles they didn’t want balloons, but a little potato salad would be nice, mustard on the side and lots of pickles.


 "Wow, this is wonderful," Charles told Bones The Dog.  "But, if I start making balloons right now, I don't think I'll finish until next week.”


 "Instead of making all those balloons," Bones suggested, "just make one giant super big, extra large, gigantic balloon the size of Chicago, or even bigger than a chicken."


 "Great idea," Charles said, and he went to the balloon store to buy the very biggest, most stupendous balloon the world had ever seen.


 "Would you like us to send it, or are you going to take it with you?" the salesperson asked."I would like you to deliver it to my house at about 2 in the afternoon."


 The world's biggest balloon (it was purple) arrived on a truck.  Seven very tall people in green uniforms removed it, dragged it onto Charles' front lawn, got back into the truck and drove away.

  
 The balloon had no air in it, so it looked like an immense purple lump covering most of the lawn, some of the flowers beds, and a good part of the maple tree.

  
Charles walked around the balloon.  He walked and he walked.  This was one extremely LARGE balloon. As Charles circled the purple lump, he looked for the opening, the spot where a person blows air into the balloon.

  
The idea is to blow so much air into it that after a while the floppy part starts to expand, to become a smooth, firm sphere that grows and grows as air continues to be forced inside.

  
At first, Charles only got tired from blowing and blowing and blowing into the balloon. After a while, though, he started getting more than tired.  Dizzy was one way he got, and also what people sometimes call light headed.

  
That does not mean his head weighed less.  It means he suddenly felt as if he could not think very well, or see very well, or hear what the world was saying to him.  He sort of felt as if an invisible coating of honey had been spread all over his head, clouding his view and blocking out sounds.


 "I can't hear very well," he said, his teeth clinched so as not to let any air escape from the balloon.

 
 "What did you say" his friend Bones The Dog asked?  "I can hardly understand you, Charles.   Your words sound as if you are speaking to me from inside a jar of honey."


 "Well," Charles explained, taking his mouth off the balloon ... and of course, as soon as he removed his lips, the air which he had been blowing into the balloon began rushing out of the balloon.


 "Oh no, I'm losing my air


How could you be losing your hair?” Bones asked.   “You're a clown. You have a red, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, and purple clown wig.  It's not lost, it's right on top of your head."


"Not my HAIR ... my AIR, the balloon's air!"


Charles said no more.   Instead, he returned the balloon to his mouth so the air would stop rushing out.


Even though he tried to keep his lips tightly pressed around the balloon, a hiss of air forced it's way past his tongue, out the corner of his mouth and down his chin, where it took a left turn and rushed towards the street.


Holding air inside the balloon with his lips was not easy.  The top of his mouth, right under his nose, started to feel uncomfortable.   Next it started feeling sore.  Then, it got itchy.

 He rubbed the itch, but when his fingers touched his skin, the spot between Charles' nose and lips tightened, growing as firm as a statue. He had to get his lips off the balloon so they could relax. But Charles had no intention of letting the air out, not after it had taken so long to get it in.

 
An idea popped into his mind.  Lips were not the only things that could keep air in a balloon.  Why, anything that plugged up the opening could do that.


He lifted his right leg off the ground, bringing his foot almost to his chin.  He lowered his head, first a little bit, which was not enough, then a lot, which was.

  
Now he grabbed his big toe with his left hand, pulling it closer and closer to the balloon.
 "If I can only get my toe into the opening, it will stop the air from coming out.  And it will give my mouth a chance to rest.  I never though a mouth could get tired, but mine is exhausted!"


The clown brought his big toe to a spot just under his left eye, slowly guiding the foot lower and lower, a little to the left, a wee bit to the right, until it rested on his lips ready to jam into the balloon as soon as he opened his mouth.  But, there were two problems.


First, his big toe smelled exactly like a garbage pail that had just gotten out of jail.

         
He wanted to get away from the smell as soon as he could, so Charles tried to plug the balloon very very quickly.  That's when he found out about the second problem.

 
Problem number two was that his mouth was frozen.  Not cold frozen, not like a bag of corn in a freezer.  This kind of frozen mouth is the kind of mouth that just wouldn’t move.

 It was stuck in a firm, solid pucker, the balloon locked between his lips.  Soon his foot caught some freezing ... it didn't' want to move, not when he shoved it with his elbow, not when he slammed it with his fist.  It would not go back to the ground.

 
The smell was getting to him.  And the pain in his jaw and his lips was getting to him.  Blowing up the world's biggest balloon seemed like a wonderful idea, only it was not turning out that way.


"Help me, Bones!"Bones looked at the balloon.  He looked at the foot.  He sniffed the foot.  Bones The Dog thought it smelled rather nice.


Bones raised his tail so that its fluffy tip touched the bottom of Charles' foot, right below the big toe.   Then he wiggled his tail.  Next, he waggled it.

  
The fluffy tip ticked the smelly toe, and Charles giggled so much that his foot dropped back to the the lawn.  Laughing relaxed his mouth, helping it to open freely.

          
As all of this happened, the balloon shot up into the sky.


"That's OK," Charles said to Bones.  "I think it needs more air than I can give it.  Why just the thought of blowing up such an enormous balloon ... takes my breath away! "