A balloon measuring just over 4 feet tall and shaped like Hello Kitty stood in the lobby like a sentinel keeping watch. A little tyke toddled right up to it with his grandfather in tow.
No one could have predicted the scene that was about to unfold outside the gift shop of this Dallas institution.
Although Hello Kitty’s feet were weighted down to keep her from floating away, an employee in the shop had taped the balloon to the wall so it would stay in place.
A helium-filled object billowing like an airbag usually doesn’t blend in very well with its surroundings. Swaying like a miniature blimp in a Thanksgiving Day parade, the white cat with the pink bow seemed to wave even though her arms were stationary. To a toddler standing less than 3 feet tall, this oversize kitty was just too much of a temptation to pass up.
At first, I hadn’t noticed the grandfather with the tiny boy as I stood beside the information desk nearby. Heavy foot traffic had held my attention until I heard the child’s blood-curdling scream.
There is nothing like the sight of a man wearing a suit coat trying to wrestle away a big Hello Kitty from a two year old.
Hello Kitty had become detached from the glass wall and was spinning as the duo ran circles around her. The child’s orange shirt and Hello Kitty’s pink dress blended with the man’s coattails in a whirlwind of chaos. Other people in the lobby stared as the struggle raged on.
Holding onto Hello Kitty’s ribbon leash, the toddler made sure the enormous feline remained between his grandfather and him. As their battle of wills continued, the gentleman spoke quietly to his grandson in a language I would later learn was his native African tongue. However, his coaxing was no match for the gargantuan eye candy enticing the little fellow.
For a foreigner whose ancestors more than likely encountered man-eating predators on the African plain, this Ethiopian tried to control his grandson's obsession with the cartoon cat as best as he knew how. He probably never knew Hello Kitty existed before arriving in Dallas. However, he experienced what every American parent has dealt with for decades—clashing with their children over things they don’t need.
Eventually, the assistant manager of the gift shop walked into the lobby and gently removed the balloon's ribbon from the youngster’s grasp. With big brown eyes, the child watched as Hello Kitty disappeared inside the shop, out of sight.
I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall in that man’s home once he returns to Ethiopia. I can just hear him weaving a humorous tale about prying his grandson from the grip of a big old ferocious feline in the United States.
Isn’t that how family folklore is spun at times? By embellishing a story?