Because then, during dinner, when one of you asks, “Did you ever watch The Red Balloon in school?” the other will almost spit out her corn laughing at the memory of this randomest of movies. Then you will muse on its bizarre popularity: a French movie (you both think it was French, though you can’t recall anyone actually speaking in the film) about a little boy chasing a balloon through cobblestone streets. Who said, “Yes, that is the movie that should be shown in lieu of P.E. on all rainy days. That is the movie that should run during free summer programs at the library. That is the movie that, even though it appears to be French, should be shown in ninth grade Spanish classes everywhere.”?
The two of you will conclude that it must have been distributed to public institutions for free, much like the prepackaged jicama sticks that were served with every meal at the camp where you were a counselor. Its only other possible draw is the actual balloon itself, which you remember as impossibly big, shiny and sturdy-looking. Nothing like the real, translucent balloons that began wilting on the ride home from the party.