It doesn’t hit most people until sometime in their late 20s at the earliest and, in rare extreme cases, their early 70s. Some don’t realize it, as I did, upon expulsion from the posh cush of their mother’s womb (or extraction therefrom via C-section if the mother is a trendy celebrity). Further, some don’t realize it ever — not even on their deathbeds or in their deathchairs or deathtubs (or wherever the heppest of deathsters are doing their dying these days). And that — that not ever knowing business — is too much to bear. Not for those who aren’t aware of what there is to not bear, but for me. I can’t bear that someone might not know, so I’m going to lay it out here, against a black velvet mat, so you can appreciate its brilliance like you’d do with a diamond if you were in the market for one.
What I have known since birth, and what I want you to know, is this:

Balloon animals are bullshit.

I have never stood riveted in rapt attention as a face-painted carnival type worked his nimble hands into a balloony blur in order to create squeaky rubber renditions of a dog (always a Dachschund!), giraffe (use that one extreee long balloon in the bag for the neck!), or monkey (probably a real crowd-pleaser these days, given the planet’s current love affair with anything relating to monkeys). Never. I have never jumped up and down, shiny-eyed and breathless with glee, and held my hands out tentatively to accept one of these delicate creations as my cautious parent warned, “Now, don’t squeeze it too hard or it’ll pop and then your pink GiGi Giraffe will be an AMPUTEE!!!”
I say if you want an animal, go out and get a real one of fur and flesh. And be sure not to squeeze it, either, unless you like having globs of animal goo seeping from a secret chamber (just under the neck) into your hand. You’ll know it’s the goo in question if its consistency is sort of like a cross between the kind of paste that used to come in a plastic container with a stick applicator, the amber-colored mucilage glue with the rubber-tip applicator, and the phlegm with the fingertip applicator.
So now you know.