Friday, October 23, 2009

Balloon Boy Busted

We all know that adding helium to a balloon makes it light, and we now know that adding a lot of helium to a big chef-hat-shaped balloon makes it take off into the skies!   But, helium is no laughing matter.
For those of you who didn’t know what I am talking about maybe you have been smoking too much of what LA is trying to ban (but more of that in the next few weeks). But, let me refresh your recollection, last Thursday there was a little six year boy, Falcon Heene, who for all intents and purposes was treated as though he was a trapped boy inside a giant alien balloon thing (that his father built) which was mysteriously un-tethered and flew up into the air.

The whole nation was captivated for two hours, with people praying and calling into various major Prime Time stations with tremendous concern. Top newsmen and women were racing to get the latest “Breaking” updates on the story, including CNN and HLN – notably, Fox News was not covering the balloon chase.  I watched as CNN got together in the Situation Room and put up the “Smart Board” to try to find where the kid could have fallen out -- setting up a tracking parameter for the miles the balloon had covered, and bringing in helium experts to assess how far the balloon could travel and what kind of injuries the boy could sustain upon impact, etc. etc. It was very serious, so serious in fact that one might think it was a PARODY of the news, not actual news.

Although I was, of course, concerned for the boy – especially if he was really in that little compartment –  I was shocked that so many news stations (almost all of them!) were covering this loose balloon chase with SO MUCH intensity.  I mean it was surreal I felt like we were watching a giant chef Boyardee cap sweeping the skies. 

Those of you who know me, know that I use humor (albeit dark and sometimes jaded humor) as a way to find levity and enjoyment in life.  It is not to uncommon for those of us in the dark world of crime to poke fun at things that we shouldn’t, laugh at inappropriate jokes, or find a way to giggle at something socially incorrect. 

So, while Operation Balloon Hoax was going on I was in the middle of posting an article to my Facebook page when one of my “friends”  popped up saying, “Robin, stop working and start praying.”   And as the child advocate I am, I immediately felt guilty for working during this national tragedy. 

Then the balloon came down, phew I was relieved.  I could go back to work again without the guilt of my Facebook “friends.”  But “uh-oh” where was the kid?  Back to panic mode.  As the talking heads were trying to figure out where Falcon was I was shocked that the whole world was mesmerized (and still is) by the giant balloon –that was built to do exactly what it was supposed to do—FLY. 
What is wrong with this picture?  So much and so much more as each day unfolds.

Now that we know the boy is fine, I think it’s ok for me to say what a lot of us were thinking during the whole “saga”: What The Heck!?!?  [And/or add in your own “!?!?” questions…you guys all know I am “f” word fan but I am trying to clean up my act]. Are you kidding me!? There is no other pressing news going on right now? Do you know how many kids go missing, are starving, are in danger of death, in this nation everyday? But they don’t go floating up in a weird silver flying machines – maybe they should, maybe then we’d pay more attention.

But I really don’t want to rant about the dangers and disasters faced by kids daily in this country (not in this post at least); nor do I want to make fun of Falcon Heene (maybe his dad) who although did not go flying through the air is probably facing something equally scary now that the nation’s eyes are upon him and his family.

I just want to say that the whole flying-chef-hat incident was hilarious as it was being covered. THERE, I said it! I actually laughed. NO, I’m not a horrible, insensitive, beyatch.  I am just being honest and open. There were some laughable moments.  And while it may not be okay to talk about them in the moment or even a few moments after the moment, I have to say that my style works for me.  Laughing keeps me sane.  Laughing keeps me from jumping of a bridge. And if Id didn’t laugh I would spend all my day crying at the sick, evil, and sadness in our society. 

And while there is no happy ending at the end of the flying chef balloon case for the Heene family, it certainly reminded me that sometimes the joke is not in the people who intended it but the real joke is on those of us who are watching and reporting this. 

I mean did you see that man on the ground racing after the chef-hat balloon as it was coming down to the ground. Why did he do a baseball dive onto the dirt ground? Why did Wolf Blitzer need an aerodynamic specialist to map out the trajectory of the balloon fall?  (I know that at the time they didn’t think it was a hoax but STILL… many other cases that need it get that kind of attention?????)

Since it seems the Heene’s actually did perpetrate the incident for a “show”,  I definitely have a word or two that I would like to share with the family (and the public) about EXPLOITATION.  This is not just about exploiting a child but it is also about abusing police resources and wasting public energy.   But, again, that is an article for another day. 

And while the Heene parents are surely not laughing as they are awaiting which of the potential charges are coming their way, the instant popularity of the balloon boy saga really did get me laughing (albeit with guilt).   But  really, is it okay to ever laugh at crime?  Clearly, there is a time for everything and that means a time to laugh, smile, and giggle no matter how dark things are.  So, I give you permission.  If a smile or laugh makes YOU feel better, go for it.  There is humor in everything and sometimes it’s just plain OKAY to use it.  Know that others may not find your jokes funny but know that humor can be your friend. So, ladies and gentleman, if you ever need to smile think of the flying Chef Boyardee hat and Wolf Blitzer in the “situation room.”  OY!!! 

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