JACKSONVILLE, FL—Eating their meals and conversing pleasantly without paying any heed to how loosely the string was wrapped around the young child’s finger, diners at a local Panera Bread reportedly went about their lunch Wednesday completely unaware that 2-year-old Nate Pollen’s tenuous grasp on a red helium balloon was the only thing standing between peace and total anarchy. Sources confirmed that as Pollen waved the balloon around, the restaurant’s patrons—enjoying their soups and sandwiches or silently working on their laptops—were unknowingly teetering on the very knife’s edge of madness, their path to either continued tranquility or utter chaos to be determined by the pressure applied to a length of string by a pudgy, saliva-soaked finger. According to reports, the individual diners, couples, and groups of friends seated within shrieking distance of Pollen’s table appeared oblivious to the complete breakdown of social order that would follow immediately if the easily excitable toddler were to become momentarily distracted and lose his already delicate grip on the brightly colored balloon. At press time, witnesses reported that complete pandemonium was a mere hair’s breadth from exploding across the restaurant as the toddler attempted to transfer the balloon from one poorly coordinated, potato-chip-grease-covered hand to the other.


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