Piece Comment

Review of The Balloon Hat Experience

OK, I'm from Washington, DC and as you hear in this story, people in Washington just don't "get it" about balloon hats. There's a small stretch of this piece that has the balloon guy walking around Georgetown offering balloon hats. Everyone say "no thanks." So maybe that explains why this story left me empty. I never quite connected with what the big deal was and the narrator of the piece didn't tell me either. He merely assumed that I would be as taken with these balloon hat-making guys as he was and would instantly understand what the big deal was.

That's also my problem with the ending of the piece, which to me seems a bit of a leap. I certainly have not learned anywhere near enough about this person to care about his relationships with women or whether or not he'll ever have kids. And by the way, I also don't get why; if he spends all his time making kids happy, that would lead him to never want kids. That seem incongruous.

But I think the things I see as problems with this piece can be solved by restructuring. There's a very nice section in the middle that I think ought to go first. After the balloon hat maker is rebuffed in Georgetown, he goes to a poor section of town where people DO appreciate the balloon hats. If it were me, I'd put these two segments first, to show that while YOU may not appreciate balloon hats, some people do and then use that example to lead the listener to understand that while some people are jaded about this practice, these guys have gone all over the world using balloon hats to connect with all different kinds of people.

That would also solve the problem of there being no natural sound in the piece until the middle – something which, to my ears, adds to the piece's empty feeling. Let me hear some joy. Let me hear some acceptance. Let me hear something that gives me a sense of what it is about the balloon hat that (as the piece says) "expresses a level of positivity" that no one had ever experienced before.

As it stands, this is a moderately interesting story about a quirky guy. While it is by no means engrossing, I believe it could be with some work.