“My parents sent me to clown school because I didn’t clean my room.”
“I was raised by a wild band of clowns roaming the woods of Transylvania, twisting our shelter and food from balloons.”
“Well I tried to be a Vegas show girl but when that failed I needed a fall back career.”
I try to keep it light at parties, so those are normally the answers I give to everyone’s favorite question: “How did you become a balloon twister?”
But the real story is much more bizarre and tragic. I don’t like to tell it often at parties because it tends to bring down the mood of any birthday party I do.
I started as a CIA analyst out of college back in 1986. I was stationed with a group of US Naval officers to take possession of a cutting-edge nuclear submarine. It was touch-and-go, but the CIA had me there to help the Navy sub we were riding on avoid any violent confrontation.
But, as we closed in on the sub, we realized that was no longer an option. A Soviet Ambassador had learned of our plans via the Soviet Sub’s reconnosence and the US government declared us renegades, although we were fully functioning on their orders. We had been abandoned by our own government.
Thinking quickly, we staged a nuclear reactor emergency and ordered our crew to abandon ship. This would send the Soviets flying in the other direction. But miles under water, how would we rise to the surfaced fast enough?
Luck for us, there had been a clown stowaway on board. With his help, I thought quickly once again and began to twist balloon life-rafts with enough air to float our crew safety up to the surface.
“Twist faster Pockets!” I shouted at the nervous clown. “The entire fate of the free world is in your over-sized hands!”
“Get a grip,” growled Pockets, slapping me with a rubber chicken. “We need to do this right if we’re ever going to survive this.”
But after the longest 45 minutes of my life, we had created a balloon large enough for our entire crew to climb into, rose to the surface, and sailed straight to Maine.
Thats (mostly) the plot to The Hunt for Red October.
I tried balloon twisting once for my son’s PTA fundraiser and just really liked it.
Now it’s my part-time job.