Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Balloon Boy debacle. I'm not sure why it's still being called that considering that he was never IN the balloon. If anything, they should be calling him Attic Boy. But whatever. The point is that it was a year ago. I'm not sure what's more disconcerting; that it feels like it was five years ago or that it was only one year ago. It's one of those. And whichever one it is, I'm not sure it matters. It probably only matters in instances when something happens and the public is skeptic about whether or not it really occurred; especially in cases when it actually did happen. Fake stories about a little boy being transported across two or three states via some sort of balloon contraption that he was allegedly trapped in don't exactly do much to help the public's unquestioned support for such "tragedies".
Regardless, let's take a fond look back at that day and the events as they unfolded, shall we? We shall.
By now, you've no doubt heard the tale of the Runaway Wife Swap Falcon Carrying Zeppelin, though most folks are choosing to go with the moniker "The Balloon Boy" story.
First of all, let's not get Balloon Boy confused with Bubble Boy. Bubble Boy was the character on Seinfeld who flipped out when he gave the answer "the Moors" to a Trivial Pursuit question which George subsequently told him was incorrect because the card, containing an obvious typo, said that the answer was "the Moops". He then attempted to strangle George, thus bursting the proverbial (and in this case, literal) bubble, and hilarity did then ensue. The Balloon Boy is none other than 6-year old Falcon Heene (pronounced Hee-knee, with the emphasis wherever you'd like it to be) who was thought to have inadvertently been inside one of his father's homemade helium balloon projects when it mysteriously came untethered and flew away. The whole event lasted at least three hours, with news station helicopters following the object (because the Dad called them and told them that his homemade mylar balloon had just flew off with his son inside of it. Of course.) and broadcasting their live footage the whole time. When the thing finally came to rest in a field in southern Colorado, a whopping 50+ miles from where it had started, the thing was ripped open like a can of tuna fish only to metaphorically hear "Sorry, Charlie" when they did not find the boy inside.
Turns out the kid was "hiding" in the family's attic the entire time. It also turns out that this family had been on Wife Swap, the hilarious ABC comedy series in which two families with completely opposite backgrounds, swap wives/mothers for a week so that they can attempt to raise the other family's children. After the week is over, the couples/families sit across from each other and tell each other how horrible their family is and that their children will likely grow up to be destitutes or prostitutes or some other sort of undesirable -tute. Sounds like just the sort of thing that I would absolutely recommend for anyone wanting to make a quick buck at the expense and sacrifice of their own children. Sure. (Good Lord, we are so doomed.)
Just knowing that the family was on Wife Swap tells you something about this family to begin with. Aside that they were building some sort of giant, silver, mylar balloon thing in the backyard that was, inexplicably, filled up with helium (that they got from only God knows where, really) even though the thing wasn't completely finished yet, if you're willingly going on Wife Swap, there's something wrong with you. Seriously. Just think about it. Actually, scratch that. If you have to think about why having your family go on Wife Swap, you don't get it and you probably won't, despite the alleged "thinking" you may be doing.
There is a lot about this story that is beginning to smell funny. Actually, there was a lot about it from the beginning that didn't smell quite right. But far be it from me to dampen a potential tragedy that a nation has spent a few hours rallying behind and Tweeting about. I'm going to point out just a few of the myriad of things that I find to be, well, a little hinky.
Let's start with the Dad, a one Richard Heene, calling KUSA-TV news first to tell them that his son may be aboard this homemade contraption of his. He's calling the TV station before he calls 911? He claims it was because he knew that the TV station had a helicopter or whatever "eye in the sky" that they have and it would be able to follow the balloon. Um, OK. But how about YOU call 911 and your wife or someone call the TV station if that's your concern. He called the TV station?
I don't know about you, but it would take me a good three to five minutes to remember which one of my local crappy news stations has the helicopter and then when I figured that out, to lookup the number and figure out who at the station would be the most appropriate person to call. (I mean, after all, you really don't want to waste a lot of time when you're trying to find just the right person to charter their work helicopter for your own personal project.) See, I don't know the number to my local crappy news stations. I do know the number for 911, though! I believe it's 9-1-1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's it. Really, on my phones, I don't even have to dial 9-1-1 because I have the "Holy S---" button that you just push for emergencies and then the phone dials 9-1-1 for me. I do not have a "Need a helicopter right now" button on any of my phones. But maybe there's an app for that.
Throughout this ordeal, I kept hearing how they had searched the house and the surrounding area of the suburban complex of Caucasian Acres where they appear to reside. So when the balloon came down and there was no one aboard the thing, well, that was perplexing indeed. But what was more perplexing to me was when the kid was found to be at the house in the attic the entire time. Who in the hell taught those people how to search? Was it the parole department that was in charge of Phil Garrido?! Are law enforcement officers incapable of doing a thorough and effective search at all these days? To "search" does not mean to poke your head somewhere that you can see and then to look around. No, to "search" means to move things, look in things, open doors, check boxes, ask questions such as "Does your backyard really just stop right there or do you have a prison camp of women that you've fathered and kidnapped beyond that fence and those tarps? THOSE are the kind of questions that will be a lot more effective than just eyeballing something.
But now he's found and everyone is relieved that he's OK and so on we go with our lives as before, correct? Not so fast. Now, instead of spending time recuperating from this anguishing event, the Heenes do what any normal family in this situation would do and they go on every talk show imaginable. That evening! Who does that?! And why? I'm thinking I'd be more about issuing a statement saying that we appreciated everyone's kind thoughts and everyone's help, but we're going to be getting back to our regular life now (just as soon as we beat this boy clear into next week for scaring us all half to death by hiding in the attic for 3 hours).
It was during one of these interviews, however, where things seemed to take an interesting turn for the Heenes. When the family was on Larry King, little Falcon was asked by his Dad if he heard people calling his name and Falcon said, "Yes." The Dad seemed surprised and asked why he didn't come out and Falcon said, "You said we did this for a show." Oh. Well, now. Awkward.
Did it for a show? Here's the thing: If that was my kid and I had decided to spare him the beating of his life just long enough for us to do the Larry King show and he said that, you can bet your ass that if I knew that none of this had been orchestrated in some way, shape or form that I would be asking him, "What the heck do you mean by that?!" But that didn't happen. Odd. (And I guess we can't blame Larry King for not delving deeper into it. He was probably just wondering where Jon and Kate's other five children were.) Then later, when on Wolf Blitzer's show and asked about this, Richard tries to ask Falcon what he meant by that and he could barely get the question out. In fact, he had to ask Wolf to "say it again" so that he knew what he was supposed to be asking. Um, hello?! You don't think that's a statement that needs to be gotten to the bottom of?! I do!!
But that interview with Wolf Blitzer is the one where I started having my doubts about ol' hinky Heene there. It's the one thing that will always give the liars away. It's their eyes. Look at people who are speaking in front of cameras in odd situations (like this one) where they're proclaiming either that they're a) innocent or b) not weird. They can't look up. They can't keep their eyes open. Their eyes are constantly shutting for long periods of time to the point where you start to wonder if they've nodded off. The best example of this (and the one where I first took notice of it) is Susan Smith. I have looked high and low for that video where she is pleading for the return of her two children and I have only been able to find it here. Now, it's in Spanish (for some reason), but it doesn't matter. Zip through to the part where she's giving her whiny, fake plea with her eyes completely shut the entire time (probably because she knows that she drown her two boys by strapping them in their car seats and letting her car roll off of a dock into a lake. Yeah, that's probably why.).
When Wolf Blitzer asks him to ask what Falcon meant by that and instead of asking a very simple question, Richard starts playing the victim, saying that he is "appalled" that people are insinuating something else is going on here. He says that "we weren't even going to do this interview". OK. But you did. And you continued to do the interview even after being "appalled". Let me tell you, if I was "appalled" because I knew that I had nothing to do with orchestrating the illusion that my son was in a giant runaway party balloon that I built in my backyard, that would be the end of the interview. That would be the end of all interviews. I'd be done. But not him. Nope. No, instead, he continues to attempt to chastise the diminutive brained Wolf Blitzer by saying that he's appalled and he does it all with his little squinty eyed/can't look at the camera thing going on.
For some reason, I can't get CNN's link to embed on this blog, but you can click here and see the interview with Wolf Blitzer that includes the "You said we did this for a show" comment.
Do you expect the public to believe that you're some super smart scientist guy and you can't understand why people don't understand any of your story at this point? How about this part: Your kid was in the attic for how long? Three plus hours? I'm watching this interview they gave to Wolf Blitzer and that kid cannot sit still for longer than 3 seconds. I am not kidding. How in the hell was he able to hide in the attic for so long? Either that or why is he so nervous now?
But wait. One last thing. So the family goes on Good Morning America and is being interviewed by Diane Sawyer. Now, I've always thought of Diane Sawyer as a rather patronizing individual. It's that tone of voice that is like she's always speaking to a 5-year old. But this time, it actually really hit home was what going on when she was talking to them. They're in the interview and the question comes up again about why Falcon said that about the show. That's when he tells his Mom that he thinks he's going to vomit. OK, look, I have NO children, all right? None. But if my kid says that he's going to vomit, that's it. The interview can wait. But Diane Sawyer practically has to prod the family into helping the kid get to a bathroom or something so that he can hurl. And even then, the kid runs off to the bathroom and everyone else just sits there! My Mom would have not only stopped the interview had that been me, but she would have been the one taking me to the bathroom, not watching me, as a six year old, run off to puke my guts out by myself. Idiots.
And speaking of idiots, for some reason, nothing is embedding today, but the Diane Sawyer interview with the Heenes, complete with puking, can be seen here. (Sorry for all of the linkage. I'd much rather have everything on just one page...this one! But Blogger is being uncooperative. Maybe it should go hide in the attic.)
But the Richard, the scientific genius of the bunch, tries to explain this incident away by telling Diane Sawyer and all of America that, "he has asthma". He what? Asthma? Vomitaceous (I made that up) asthma? What the hell are you talking about sir? Who has asthma that includes vomiting? Um, no one! That's correct!
So what was the point? Hard to say, but TMZ is reporting that the Heenes were pitching a reality to show to TLC a few months ago. The network apparently passed, but perhaps the Heenes were not wanting to take "no" for an answer and just needed a little feel-good publicity to prod them into picking up the show.
Still undecided on whether or not this whole ordeal was for real or not? There's video (again, not here) over there at Gizmodo and it actually shows the moment the balloon got loose. It doesn't seem to jive with any of the stories that have been told before, but aside from that, look at how mad Richard gets. Not the behavior of a sane individual, whether you have untethered giant mylar balloons in your backyard or not. It's not normal.