Monday, October 19, 2009

Up, Up and Away (Mentally)

So now the NEXT time a boy gets caught in a balloon, for real, we're not going to believe it.

I'm only being slightly facetious.

I resisted writing about six-year-old Falcon Heene---the boy who we all thought might be floating in the sky somewhere over Colorado in a homemade weather balloon---because, No. 1: I wanted to see how everything played out; and No. 2: I was saving it for a day when I had me some writer's block.

Well, No. 1 has cured No. 2.

Turns out that Heene's dad may have masterminded---and I use that word extremely loosely---an elaborate (again, loosely) hoax (tightly) in order that he might gain some fame and notoriety for his whacky weather research.

According to CNN.com, authorities say the event---in which the tearful couple claimed their six-year-old may have been trapped in the flying-saucer-like contraption floating through the air---was staged. Richard and Mayumi Heene had met in a Hollywood acting school and pursued fame for their family in the world of reality TV, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said.

If this indeed was a hoax, then at least Heene didn't put his child into any physical danger; at least he didn't spring the kid loose inside the contraption then somehow jettison him from it later.

But that's hardly something for which we hand out awards.

Heene, according to those who have the authority to press charges and stuff, conspired with his entire family---wife and kids---to elicit the very response that we as a captivated nation provided: undivided attention, followed by gasp-inducing drama, topped off with Tweets and office gossip.

Much of our empathy went like this: "Oh, that poor little boy!"

Come to think of it, that should still be our riff.

Poor Falcon Heene, indeed.

Poor kid to have a dad who would make a little boy lie on national TV to validate all the thoughts and prayers gathered throughout the day.

Poor kid to grow up in an environment that has already included his parents doing a turn on "Wife Swap," of all shows.

Poor kid to have to suffer through a day where he was sequestered from the outside world, just so the phony drama could be played out.

Poor kid to be just six years old and already be in danger of growing up to be a Screwy Louie.

Yep, poor little boy, indeed!


Richard Heene, with wife Mayumi behind him, spins his tale for the press


Still, the Heenes' attorney, David Lane, said something that rings true---for this is America, after all.

"The sheriff having a press conference saying that they're guilty does not make them so," David Lane told CNN's "American Morning."

Can't argue with that. Let justice take its course.

But sheriffs don't hold press conferences as candid as the one Alderden held, making such claims, unless they're really sure. Because look at what might happen to them, and their coffers, if they're proven otherwise.

Speaking of Alderden, he too uttered a gem, when speaking of the high school-only-educated Richard Heene and his "meteorology" and storm-chasing fetish.

"He might be nutty," Alderden said, "but he's no professor."

Is there a Sheriff Hall of Fame? Put Jim Alderden in it, immediately. In the orator's wing.

That's priceless.

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