May 05, 2007

99 red balloons

99 red balloons


Yesterday morning before school, while With-a-Why was snuggling with me, I said, "Your sister will be home tonight." Of course, there was really no need for me to announce this news since it's all we'd been talking about all week.

"We should get 99 red balloons," he said sleepily.

"What?"

"Yeah, 99 red balloons."

Later, when I was more awake, I thought over his odd request. Why 99 balloons? And why red ones? He had left for school, so I decided to ask the expert on all matters With-a-Why.

Boy in Black, of course, knew exactly what his little brother was talking about.

"It's a song."
"About homecoming? Like the Simon and Garfunkel one?"
"No, it's about communism."
"Communism?"
"Yeah."
"What's so great about the song?"
"It's not very good, actually. It was once on a list of the 100 worst songs."
"So it's not even good music?"
"Well, it's so bad it's good. That's the point."

By now, Boy in Black had called up the song on iTunes, and the music was playing in the background of our conversation.

"It's in a scene from Scrubs," he explained. "The one where JD dances with 99 red balloons." He showed me the clip on YouTube.

And so that became the theme of my daughter's homecoming. After school, With-a-Why and I went out to buy packages of red balloons. We spent the next couple of hours blowing them up and tying them to furniture, thinking all the time about that plane that was crossing the ocean. With-a-Why insisted that we leave lots of the balloons rolling around on the floor loose so that we could kick them when we danced. By the time Boy in Black came back from the grocery store, picking up Shaggy Hair and Skater Boy from school on his way, the room was beginning to fill with red balloons.

"I'll figure out the chords," Boy in Black said. "Skater Boy, you take the drums. Someone download the lyrics ...."

Older Neighbor Boy and Philosophical Boy arrived with guitars and amps, and began practicing the song.

We had to take two cars to the airport, picking up Blonde Niece on our way, and we got there way early. The small airport was quiet. The gang of teenagers amused themselves by leaping over posts, running up the down escalators, and racing each other on the wide, empty staircases. My husband kept calling and checking on the status of the flight. "It's on the ground!"

When my daughter finally came walking through the big white doors, everyone was fighting to hug her first. She was carrying presents because she couldn't fit them all into her suitcase. She looked beautiful and happy and just the same. She was laughing and handing out gifts and trying to talk to everyone at once. She pulled bags of candy from her overly full carry-on and tossed them to the boys as we stood in a big clump in the baggage claim area, her brothers shoving each other and jockeying to stand the closest to her.

And then we brought her home to a room full of 99 red balloons so the boys could serenade her with a song about communism.

36 comments:

Ianqui said...

99 Luftballons! What does he mean, one of the worst songs ever--it's awesome!

I'm not sure the song has anything to do with communism at all, though. Wikipedia says that "red" was added in English to make the title work with the beats of the music, and that it probably doesn't really have anything to do with communism.

betty said...

I'm following you Ianqui - and now just like at B*'s, I'll second your awesome and say that I love that song too!

Jo(e) - your family sounds awesome. Can I come hang out with you guys?

EA said...

It's so good to have so much.

RageyOne said...

sounds like a great homecoming for your daughter's return.

Busymomma66 said...

How exciting to finally have her home. I love the idea of all those balloons. Did you cry when you saw her, I know I come close when I go to pick up my kids from sleepover camp, I just get too overwhelmed with all the emotion--and that's only 1 week.

Phantom Scribbler said...

What Ianqui said. And wasn't the original video about nuclear war? That's even better than communism as a welcome-back theme.

Dr. Mon said...

How fun! Glad she's home safe--what a homecoming!

liz said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any song that makes reference to Captain Kirk.

Hooray for a lovely homecoming!

BrightStar said...

Your house sounds like so much fun!

Happy Homecoming to your daughter!

Did you rent a helium tank?

Anonymous said...

I love the balloons tied to the rubics cude. How 80's!

Life&Times said...

Must be a generational thing because the minute I saw the title I thought: What a great homecoming song! It's just so much fun :) I love how close your kids are to one another-- and creative! My bro and I are close but we could never connect on that kind of level! Happy Homecoming Joe's Daughter!

east village idiot said...

Wow. That song brings back many college memories. What can I say - we loved that silly song - it was so euro-trash pop - who could resist it?! What a wonderful family you have and what better way to embrace your daughter!

Aliki2006 said...

Oooh--I always loved that song! I'm glad she's safe home and I'm sure she has tons of adventure tales for you.

Kathryn said...

Welcome home, Smart Beautiful Wonderful daughter of Jo(e). I'm sorry I missed out on meeting you this time....bring your mum and dad back for another visit before too long...and meanwhile, hooray for family reunions :-) xx

Sue said...

What a wonderful homecoming!! Your family is so much fun.

shrinkykitten said...

Awesome, awesome song - and much better in german.

Kyla said...

You guys are so much fun. I'm glad WBSD is home safe and sound!

niobe said...

Shrinkyk nails it. It's so much better auf deutsch.

Rana said...

I've never heard of the song - but what a lot of balloons! Did you get faint blowing them up? How did she like them?

Chip said...

yeah, I remember that song, part was in German: "neun und neunzig luftballöne"...

Welcome back WBSD!!

Ampersand said...

I love reading about your wonderful family. Happy for you that your beautiful daughter is home!

Linda said...

Did With-a-Why ever explain why he thought it was a good idea? I think it's great!

elswhere said...

I always thought that song was about the Berlin Wall-- she was singing about how the wall was dividing her city, but that if you released 99 red balloons in West Berlin they'd see them over the wall in East Berlin. So (if that's right) it's really a song about reaching out across borders. Which makes it perfect for a homecoming from another country.

and what a lovely thing to come home to.

BeachMama said...

What a wonderful homecoming. Love the red balloons, and learning the song (sadly I had to admit that it was high school for me). She must of really loved it. We do crowds at the airport too, there is never just one of us to pick everyone up.

PPB said...

I have no memory of the song, but I really love the red balloons. Congrats on getting all your chickens into the coop.

jar said...

I love the balloons. Glad that everyone is home safe.

What Now? said...

How lovely that your family is reunited!!

Pendullum said...

How wonderful...

What a great homecoming...

jo(e) said...

Ianqui: I read your comment aloud to the kids, and my daughter said, teasingly, "Wikipedia? Who cites wikipedia as a credible source?"

We did rent a helium tank. We figured some of the balloons would break, so we blew up 216 of them. We didn't use helium for all of them -- I blew a bunch up the regular way so that we would have some rolling around on the floor. By the time we were done, the ceiling, the floor, and pretty much everything in between was covered with red balloons. But it had gotten dark so I couldn't get a good photo. (I have just a point and shoot camera, and the flash on it is broken so I am limited to daylight for photos.)

The song and balloons were a big success. My daughter loved it.

And now we still have piles of half-deflated balloons all over the place.

Amelie said...

welcome home! The balloons are great!

SusieJ said...

She'll remember this for the rest of her life. Beautiful

Anonymous said...

Oh, I always **loved** that song. We thought it was about the Cold War and trigger-happy military types around the world. We loved it in college precisely because it was Euro-pop and the world seemed to become a more open place -- well, the Western world -- in the 1980s, so listening to Nina was a way to connect to the world at large. At least to those of us who were Children of the '80s. Sigh. Are they *really* over???!!! I still can't believe it. Where'd I get this gray hair??!!

Sounds like your daughter absolutely had a most memorable homecoming! I am happy for you that she is back and I know that she has made memories for a lifetime. Kathy in Kentucky

susan said...

Happy family reunion!

red-haired sister said...

It's a good thing she is home to pick up all the balloons once they deflate, otherwise they would still be lurking around behind things and under the furniture at the Christmas-caroling Party!

my15minutes said...

I've never heard of the song (I think that was during my prime childbearing years, so I was probably groggy with sleep deprivation for the decade and missed the song). But I love the red balloons. Your photo and story made me smile, and I love the warmth in your family that shines through your writing.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

This post made me cry, as many of yours do. And what a great picture!