Hello, I’m Cate and I am globophobic. No, I am not afraid of the globe – I’m afraid of…balloons. It’s not a glamorous fear, I know – and I am thankful that it has an actual name, rather than being tucked away in the ‘weirdo’ section of the psychology handbook. Granted, it’s known to psychologists as an ‘uncommon phobia’, but I say why settle for a boring old fear of heights or flying, when I can have an uncommon phobia? Even if it is mocked by small children and adults alike.
According to Dr Google, I should be able to trace my fear to a traumatic event. But since balloons are mostly associated with happy parties in my memory, I am not sure where it started. I do remember hating those games where you had to pop the balloons to get a prize, but I don’t think they messed with my head any more than an egg & spoon race or pinning the tail on that poor donkey.
After childhood, there was a blissful mostly-balloon-free decade or so, then my beloved nieces and nephew came along and the balloons reappeared. At parties, from shopping centres, with showbags. Pop! Pop! Pop! But my family knows that I am a balloon hater, so they try not to use them very often. And my nieces – bless ’em – usually shepherd any stray balloons out of the room when I come in. So now I mostly just have to dodge the balloons in shopping centres (why oh why can’t stores just give out pens or ipads or gold bars as promotional tools these days?). You might have seen me, ducking and weaving to get away from a balloon in a shopping trolley, or a balloon being held too close to the ground by a little kid, or a balloon coming into contact with something sharp. I know, I know.
One day last year, I went to work in the city office of the insurance company I was with at the time. I was just expecting an ordinary day in the HR bearpit. But when the security door opened and I walked on to the floor, across the wide span of a football field of open-plan workstations, there was a sight to be seen. Hell had come to the office overnight – in the form of hundreds of helium balloons tied to ribbons, hovering over every desk. Before the first pop, I reminded my team mate of my fear and he kindly moved the closest balloons, but they lurked not too far away and kept bobbing about, getting closer and closer as the day wore on, like a pack of hyenas. I am not sure how I survived, but the psychologists in our team (it’s HR, so there were a few) said that I had participated in ‘exposure therapy’ and that I should actually thank the balloon deliverers for helping me to overcome my fear. Not only for the balloons, but I do not work there anymore.
So, when I saw this piece of furniture on the fabulous Umbra site recently, I thought that perhaps I should buy it and continue my ‘exposure therapy’ via this cool stool. Designed by young Canadian designer Natalie Kruch, the Balloona stool features over 500 brightly coloured balloons tied onto solid wood. It looks funky and not too intimidating, so I will think about it…(You can check it out here.)
Or there’s this beautiful balloon necklace, made by Nokike in Florence. These balloons look too cute to be scary – and if new jewellery can help conquer my fears, then I reckon this ‘exposure therapy’ might be a good idea after all. (Necklace is here.)
Of course, another option is to move into an inflatable house, like this one. Now, that would be confronting my fears.