Balloons and Venus Fly Traps

Reader’s the time is drawing near. Tomorrow, I will be 26. Yes, I know, I will officially be closer to 30 than 20, a fact I have reminded myself of plenty of times over the past few weeks.

One by one, the gray hairs on my head are slowly pulling me closer to the grim reaper, but we’re not going to think about this right now. Instead of thinking of the future, we’re going to reflect on some of my birthdays that went awry!

I’ll preface this by saying the situations below weren’t the worst things to ever happen to mankind… but they were #traumtic at the time, and I’m proud that I overcame them to become the person I am today. Well, proud-ish.

Anyway, the first birthday I can remember where something “eventful” happened was when I was five. Here I am:


I mean, look at her. Her eyes bright with all the possibilities that turning five would bring, a crown atop her head that meant she was destined to be a princess (#StillWaiting), and wearing more pink than she would ever wear again. And, what’s behind her? A balloon. You’ll need to remember this for later.

Now that we’ve all basked in the glory that is my five-year-old self, please direct your attention to the heathen below:



This fearsome looking creature is my younger brother, who was two-ish at the time. You’ll also need to remember him for later.

So there I was, on Cape Cod at my grandparent’s house, hanging out with my family and basking in the glow every (almost every?) child feels on their birthday. My aunt and uncle had brought me pink and purple balloons, and the balloons were my favorite thing ever.

At some point, we ended up in my grandparents’ backyard, and so did the balloons. And then my sweet baby brother asked to hold one of my balloons. Since I was the one wearing the crown and he was a mere peasant, I decided to make his dreams come true and allow it.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

Because as soon as the string from the balloon was solidly in his hand, he let it go, and off  and up the balloon went.

Think I’m kidding?



This is a REAL picture from that day almost 21 years ago and a very accurate depiction of my birthday dreams drifting away from me. Readers, I wish I could tell that was as bad as it gets. But I can’t.

See, my baby brother wasn’t just given one of my precious balloons, but THREE of them. THREE. And as you can imagine, the other two balloons suffered the same fate as the first.

Here he is, admiring his handiwork:


So with three of my balloons making their way into the Cape Cod atmosphere, my younger brother and family laughed while I sat there and cried, mourning my balloons.

The good news is that the balloon freeing fiasco set the bar really low, so five ended up being a really good year for me.

Anyway, I made it through most of my childhood without any other balloon heists taking place, so let’s move on to young adulthood.

For my 18th and 21st birthdays, I was given the most magical gift of all.

A Venus Fly Trap (AKA VFT).

When I came downstairs on my 18th birthday with all the poise and grace of a Greek goddess, and I found that one of my gifts was a miniature version of the carnivorous plant that terrorized the characters in Jumanji. First, I was confused. And then confusion turned into delight because I was a weird teenager.

As the day went on, my Mom had the idea of feeding it a tiny piece of raw hamburger.

“You know, just to see what it would do,” she said.

The little morsel sat in one of the plant’s open mouths, and we patiently waited for it to move. Then we impatiently waited, and my Mom took a wooden skewer and gently nudged the piece of meat into the center of the plant’s mouth.

And then the VFT’s mouth snapped shut, causing us both to scream. Which is ridiculous, because we knew what was going to happen; we were encouraging it to happen.

Readers, if I can impart one piece of advice on all of you, it’s that you should not feed raw hamburger to a Venus Fly Trap. If you do, it’ll die. Which is, of course, what happened to mine. It never opened its mouth again, and soon after its other plant heads (I clearly am not a botanist) shriveled up. You’d think that this situation would be a strong argument to never gift me a VFT ever again, right?

WRONG. Cue my 21st birthday, where my Mom gave me another VFT.  I was determined, readers. This time would be different, I would raise it and it would die a natural death after a long and creepy life under my care.

See? Here he was sitting on the windowsill, basking in the Wisconsin sunlight at my parents’ house!


That’s Horace. See, he even lived long enough for me to name him. Ours was going to be a story for the ages.

Also, see below. This was taken back at my college apartment. Horace and I were having a really cute moment and eating dinner together. Please note, the grilled cheese was for me, I did not make the mistake of feedback Horace human food again.


Well, our “story for the ages” came to an end when a friend and I were hanging out in my living room. My friend decided he wanted to see Horace in action. He then put the tip of a pencil in one of Horace’s mouths, and Horace, always eager to please people, snapped his lil mouth shut.

And then he never opened it again.

My friend decided to Google Venus Fly Traps and said, “Oh, I guess you’re not supposed to force a VFT’s mouth to shut unless there’s a bug for it to eat. Otherwise, they won’t have the energy to open again.”

And that’s how two of my last birthdays were tainted. Because my loved ones and I never thought to read up on the eating habits and lifestyles of VFTs, two of my presents shriveled up before it was their time.

And now, as I turn 26, what could possibly go wrong this birthday? Well, readers, the thing didn’t even wait for my birthday.

Two words: sinus infection. Bring on the kiddy cocktails YOLO. #ThisAntibioticIsLit

Readers, I want to hear about your birthday mishaps. Not because I wish any birthday mishaps on anyone, but because I think we can really help each other in moving on.






5 thoughts on “Balloons and Venus Fly Traps

  1. The only mishap that I can remember was when I spent over 12 hours of my birthday on a greyhound coming back from Chicago, but the rest of the day was nice hahaha
    I hope you get better soon, and happy bday 😀 🎂

  2. Yeah. Ugh. Birthdays. My junior year in college my four roommates were total sH*ts to me that entire week. I had no idea what I’d done wrong, probably something during or after 10 cent taps at Happy Hour. Apparently they were so put out with me they came up with lame excuses on why they couldn’t celebrate with me every time I brought up my special day. To top it off I had night class on the eve of my birthday from 7-10 pm. To say I was in a bad way was probably an understatement. I had passed tears was precariously close to all out ugly crying. To hell with those butt heads. Finally at about 11:00 (I took my time walking home, I mean I wasn’t going to appear needy or anything) I arrived home … where a full-fledged six half-barrel kegger was taking place in honor of said under appreciated roommate. Ugly crying ensued. Hugs. Wasn’t I sentimental? They’d never know the emotional wreck I was. It was a no-good, horrible, very bad , extremely kick ass birthday.

  3. How sad for Horace, and for you. I feel like you should definitely NOT get a goldfish for your birthday. Happy birthday, Erin.

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