17 November 2008
everyday, I drive by the car dearlerships on 82nd avenue. everyday, there are balloons. always, every single day. rain or shine. hundreds of them attached to cars, to the tops of chain link fences, to the entrances and exits. to anything and everything, hovering and swaying as the people pass by, totally oblivious to our indifference. they are indefatigable. and okay, a little needy. but that's the thing about balloons. they don't really care how they look.
yesterday, after months and months of driving past said dealerships, I finally decided to stop. I settled on the dealership with the red and yellow balloons. I don't know why but I think it might be my favorite. did you know, there's really no good way to sneak into a car dealership? not in the middle of the day when they're open for business and all six salesmen are standing outside looking for something to do. the plan was to sidle up along the outside and shoot on the sly. no such luck. I was something like ten feet from the entrance and hidden behind a mess of chain link fence (or so I thought) when I saw them coming. omg they're going to kick me off the property! but I'm not even on their property, I thought. technically, I'm standing on the sidewalk and everyone knows the sidewalk belongs to the city. everyone knows the sidewalks are fair game. or something like that. so then I was all set to defend myself and as non-confrontational as I usually am, I was ready for a fight. until I saw smiles. big smiles, white smiles, both of them coming right at me. oh okay, they're going to try to sell me a car. which was exactly what I was hoping to avoid. people, I am no good in this sort of situation. this is because I have been known to give salesmen a false sense of hope.
as it turned out, they just wanted to be in the picture and maybe engage in some harmless flirting. fortunately, these are things I can handle. plus, I had all kinds of questions about the balloons. lucky for me, oscar (whom I'm pretty sure was the owner) was full of answers. oscar, where do all these balloons come from? you are relentless with all the balloons. how do you do it? how do you do this every single day? this must be costing you a fortune. is this costing you a fortune? well, it's our thing, oscar said. we put them out everyday, take them down, pop them all every night and start over in the morning. then he took out his phone and showed me a picture he'd taken earlier that day. he'd strung the balloons up one by one until they disappeared into the sky, little red and yellow dots punctuating an endlessly bright blue sky. that oscar, he was beaming. he said that if I came back in the morning, he'd string them up again, just like that, just for me. better yet, he'd gather them all up in one enormous bunch. because that's something to see, he said. that's a picture you'll want to take. spoken like a true salesman. I'll admit, this charmed me to no end and if I'd had the cash, I might have purchased a used car and driven it off the lot right then and there. but oscar walked away and left me and my polaroid to the business of taking photographs.
oscar, I never got the chance to tell you how much I appreciated you leaving me and my camera alone like that. and hey oscar? I love the balloons. everyday, I love them.
p.s. portland peoples, if you need to buy a car, I have just the place. also, oscar is single and looking.