It is probably not concerned with gender, but its symbol is He. Its atomic number is 2 and it can make your voice funny. A quick look at Wikipedia, and we find that “Helium is a chemical element with symbol He and atomic number 2. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium).
Colorless and odorless…Apparently, and as lucidly narrated by Hugh Aldersey-Williams in his engaging book: Periodic Tales (New York: Harper Collins, 2011), “irreverent scientists” from the nineteenth-century dismissed “unknown concoctions” at the time with a “that’s helium” remark, while “spectroscopists doubted whether helium really existed” (192).
Well, helium does exist and it moves in mysterious ways!
My most recent encounter with it was because of a “Thinking of You” balloon that I bought back on November 14, 2013 for my boyfriend who was then at the hospital. I thought the helium-filled balloon would be in prime condition for about 3-4 days, which was a nice period of smiley-sunshiny brightness for someone’s recovery.
He (in this case, Kevin) was back home on the 16th. The balloon was in prime condition. I went to Puerto Rico from the 20th to the 26th. I came back. The balloon was high up, “Thinking of You.” Thanksgiving came, and I was impressed with it for exceeding my expectations.
Actually, it held its own pretty well for the first four weeks. Actually it was still proudly in place for the next four. Indeed, never underestimate the power of helium!
After week nine, we freed the balloon from the ribbon that kept it firmly tied in place. It’s been roaming the apartment freely ever since. I am truly amazed by the resilience of this funny balloon. (See Heliumette Balloon below, born on 11/14/2013 in Whitefish Bay, WI; age 9 1/2 weeks at the time of this posting.)
Sometimes it makes its way into the shower, peeking from the other side of the curtain. Sometime it settles for a bit by the computer as if trying the read the screen. Inert? Not so much…
Who knew tracking this nearly 10-week old helium-filled treat would be so endearing?!