I found an interesting book at the public library. It gave a detailed the history of hot-air ballooning as a sport and described all about their use. I was immediately turned on by the idea of FLYING in a BALLOON! There was a bibliography at the back of the book. I wrote to the closest manufacturer— which was a business called Piccard Balloon Company. The factory was located in Newport Beach, CA, which was less than an hour’s drive from where I lived. I was thrilled when I received a postcard in the mail from Don Piccard himself! Don Piccard was the owner of the Piccard Balloon Company. Don’s family members were pioneers in the Balloon industry, both in designing and in flying them. Don Piccard’s grandmother, Jeannette Piccard, was acclaimed to be the first woman to fly to the stratosphere. She took her grandson Don for his first balloon flight when he was just a few months old.
Don replied to my letter by mailing a postcard, inviting me to come for a visit and a tour of his factory. THRILLED was the word! I was very excited to have the opportunity to see some hot-air balloons up close and personal. I was very excited!
I had a car, having bought my brother’s Mazda RX-2 when he went to live in Hawaii. I made an appointment to visit the Piccard Balloon Company the following Friday. I could barely contain my anticipation in the days that followed.
The day finally arrived. I had my driving instructions and a map. I headed to Newport Beach. I found the place with no difficulty. Don met me at the entrance and extended his hand to shake. Don was in his early 50’s; a very tall and lanky man who was showing the beginning signs of baldness. He gave me a long, speculative gaze and then invited me to come inside.
Don took me on a tour of the factory. There was an area where several Mexican ladies worked together over sewing machines. Don explained that the envelope of a balloon is created out of many yards of silk fabric which is stitched and sewn (by these ladies) entirely by hand to insure its safety and durability.
Another section of the factory was where they were fabricating a new type of gondola out of fiberglass. The gondola was what they called the basket that was lifted by the balloon envelope. These were originally made most commonly out of wicker.
“No wicker here, except for the picnic basket”, said Don. Apparently that was his pat phrase and he liked to say that to everyone. He said it to me as we stood there admiring his new prototype.
Don offered to buy me lunch. We got into his car and we went around the corner to a burger place. Don treated me to a burger and fries for lunch. He sat across from me and watched me appraisingly as I ate. As I recall, all he had was coffee. He made some comment about my lunch, something to the effect that I had better not eat too many lunches like that—too fattening!
I had recently lost some weight and I felt pretty and even thin, for a change. I was not too bad-looking at eighteen years of age. I had ok breasts and I was wearing a pair of black pants that showed off my new svelte self.
I finished my lunch. I did not eat all of the fries (although I wanted them), due to his pointed remarks regarding my weight. “You’re not going to eat ALL of that, are you?”
That is what he said to me. What a jerk.
After lunch, Don took me back to his factory. The employees that we had seen earlier had all left; perhaps off to lunch. It was noon. Everybody else was gone; Don and I were alone in the building.
He invited me into his office in the back of the factory showroom. Once there, Don went over and sat behind his massive desk. He stretched out his legs under the desk and I pulled out a chair and sat down in front.
Don began to outline the most fantastic JOB DESCRIPTION to me! He needed someone like me, is what he said. There was a great opportunity for me here, working for him. He said. That is how Don explained it to me.
He needed me (or someone like me) to fly in a hot-air balloon as a regular promotion.
He said that I would be flying over crowds and dropping flyers—such as over a football stadium (this was an example that he mentioned). Concerts, sporting events and other types of public events—this would be where I would go for a flyover & drop.
The way that he described the job made it sound so very EXCITING!
I was very interested in the opportunity that he seemed to be offering to me. I would be PAID to fly and to wave at the crowds! All of this served to feed my imagination! I could already visualize myself up there, dropping flyers on the masses. I had sort of entered into my own daydreams at that point. I almost missed the last part of Don’s fabulous offer.
“……..and all you have to do” (he said), “in order to get this great job, is to come over here and give me a blowjob.”
As his last words came out, they sort of hung there in the air for a moment. I did not immediately comprehend the meaning of this last statement. I stared at Don with a blank look on my face. There was a pause in the flow of the conversation, and an awkward pause at that. Don stared at me with a non-blinking gaze. I looked at the wall, the window…anywhere but Don’s FACE! Most of his body was hidden by the massive desk.
I sat there silently, trying to piece together the final phrase that had been uttered. I sort of knew what was being asked, although I had not yet had any experience with blowjobs. I was not completely sure HOW or WHAT it was, but I had a sinking feeling that what Don Piccard required of me was something nasty; something that I had no interest in doing—NOT EVEN for the Greatest Job In The Whole World.
The silence now hung in the air between us. I could not look at the man. He stared at me. I could feel his eyes on me. I was actually sort of afraid: Not of HIM really, but I had the feeling that if I had been able to see around to his side of the desk, I would NOT want to see what he had there. I might’ve found myself face-to-member with a glistening and erect penis under the desk!
After what seemed to be an hour of uncomfortable (for me) silence, Don made a sort of snort, signifying his disgust and with that, I was dismissed. He grabbed a pen and stated very matter-of-factly that he had lots of work to do and the tour was now over. Goodbye.
I continued to sit there motionless and in a bit of shock.
Had I really heard it?
Did he really SAY THAT?
Don was all about business now. He wished me ‘Good Day’ in a way that was decidedly dismissive. Don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-your-way-out…
Sometimes I can be a little bit slow on the uptake. I was just beginning to grasp the situation.
I murmured, “…..but—you said that you were gonna tell me how I could get to ride in a balloon…”
Now Don appeared to be losing his patience. He grabbed a scrap of paper and began to make a rough sketch of a map and some driving directions. His tone had certainly changed now! Where he had been sweet and purring, now I found him to be impatient and ready for me to get the hell out of his office. Using clipped phrases…he described the location where most of the hot-air balloon pilots would be found on the first Sunday of the next month. He named a field in Perris, CA.
It was there in that field that the local pilots gathered for a flight. Don said that I could probably get a ride in a balloon in exchange for being on the ground crew. Finished now with drawing the details of the map, he shoved it across the desk at me and with that I was dismissed from his sight. I did not think that the JOB OFFER was still on the table.
Don gave me a critical gaze and made a cutting remark about my weight.
I recall that he said something along the lines of my being a
“Big girl who could probably weigh down the balloon in a high wind”,
--except by now I was through listening to him. I had by then understood exactly WHAT he had been suggesting and it was something really
I am pretty sure that what was UNDER the table was something that I would rather not know for a certainty. I recall that I thought about the incident on the way home. I imagined that (had I actually seen it) his ‘member’ would’ve resembled a nasty little fat white grub. It was a few more years before I had another penis-viewing opportunity. The next time I was a little bit more interested and a little bit less grossed out by it.
I have often wished that I had had the presence of mind to make some sound….an “EWWWW” noise, or even to just start laughing hysterically. ANYTHING would’ve been better than to just remain silent and seated.
The feeling that I was left with after this experience—was one of shame. I felt as if I needed to keep it a secret. I don’t believe I mentioned it to anyone for many years.
I told the story to a male friend, but by that time I was well into my forties. My friend listened with rapt attention. Then he laughed good and hard about it, laughing until he squirted hot tears and then he asked me,
“WHY in all these years have you never told me that story? It is HILARIOUS!”