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This Is So Stupid

Has Anyone Seen My Balloons?

10:16 AM EST on February 17, 2023

View, looking up, at a bunch of balloons released above Christopher Street (between Hudson and Bleeker streets) during the annual New York City Pride March, New York, New York, June 24, 1979. (Photo by Suzanne Poli/Getty Images)
Suzanne Poli/Getty Images

One of my main interests, as a longtime balloon enthusiast, is acquiring balloons of various shapes and sizes, filling them with lighter-than-air gasses, and then letting them float freely throughout North American airspace. Now, a big part of the fun of releasing large, sometimes irregularly shaped balloons is that you just never know where they’ll end up. But lately, the damnedest thing keeps happening: My balloons keep disappearing!

I lost the first one earlier this month. Last I checked, it was about 40,000 feet over Alaska. Then, poof—it vanished! To lose one balloon is, of course, disappointing, but it’s no great mystery. We all lose track of a single large balloon somewhere over the Arctic Ocean every once in a while. So, suspecting nothing out of the ordinary, I wasted little time before releasing another balloon—one of my favorites, in fact, a cool cylindrical one—right by the Alaska-Yukon border.

This one makes it up to 40,000 feet, then—get this—it just disappears too! Now I’m starting to get a little suspicious. Who loses two balloons in such short succession? What are the odds of random accidents befalling both of my beautiful inflatable boys, just days apart? I’m not, by nature, a conspiratorial person, but something seemed amiss. Naturally, there was only one thing to do: send up another balloon.

So, a bit wary, perhaps, but with newfound determination, I inflated a third balloon and let that sucker float. I felt a swelling of pride as my prized inflatable drifted, aimlessly but proudly, over Lake Huron. Then, tragedy at 20,000 feet: My third balloon vanished into thin air.

I finally had to draw an improbable but inescapable conclusion: Someone was deliberately targeting my balloons. I know that sounds crazy, but what else could have happened to take out three of my balloons?

But who would do such a thing? Who would have the resources and the ability to track and destroy three of my balloons as they floated high above North America, eliminating each of them with deadly, pinpoint accuracy? Aliens? China? No, there’s really only one possible culprit: The United States of America. I have reason to believe my balloons were targeted by the government.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s utterly absurd to imagine the United States government intentionally shooting my beloved and harmless balloons out of the sky. How would they even go about it? Did they send, say, a $150 million F-22 to fire a $439,000 Sidewinder missile at a clearly harmless balloon? Three times? That’d be an absurd waste of resources, for a mission that seems to serve no coherent purpose. Cui bono?, you may ask. And, look, I have no clue who bono. Someone with a great deal of power and a fanatical hatred of balloons, if I had to guess.

If you have a better explanation for what happened to my three balloons, frankly, I’d love to hear it.

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