Last Friday I watched in horror as a six-year-old boy drifted 6,500 feet above the plains of Colorado in a silver plastic bag. A CNN aviation expert warned the kid might have been frozen stiff or unable to breathe due to the high altitudes.
Falcon, as they called him (that was his name), was in trouble.
Surely he’d pissed his pants.
At first I enjoyed what seemed like a true-life “Flight of the Navigator,” but then real fear sunk in. Witnesses reported an object that fell from the silver plastic bag while it was floating high in the air. That object must have been the intrepid Falcon, who was not in the silver plastic bag when it landed several miles from his home.
But it wasn’t Falcon who fell. He was hiding in a box in his family’s garage.
So what was the mysterious object? Could it have been the last few sane thoughts belonging to Falcon’s father, Richard Heene? Did they jump onto that silver plastic bag along with his self-respect and consideration for other human beings?
Or perhaps it was the maternal instincts once belonging to Mayumi Heene, the mother and video editor of the family. Did her husband’s long-term aspirations of launching their children into the stratosphere strip her of a definitive characteristic found in all … mammals?
“Hide in the box, Falcon. Cha-Ching!”
But Falcon couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The poor kid didn’t know he was being exploited, and – in front of millions of viewers – he spilled the beans. And in those simple words …
“We did this for the show.”
… It all becomes so clear.
You see, the Heenes wanted to be on television. And who doesn’t? I’ve been on television and it’s fucking amazing. You get to DVR yourself and queue the video for every single person who enters your home.
“See how I look into the camera but you can’t really tell because I’m blurry?”
Still, the journey of a child star is along a dark and winding path. For every Neil Patrick Harris there are 1,000 Mario Lopezes wreaking havoc and destroying everything they love. Seriously - let’s not forget the Corey Haims and Gary Colemans of the world before they become poster boys for something else.
And that’s where it gets twisted. Somewhere inside of their sad, lonely and diseased brains the Heenes thought they were doing a good thing for their family. A good thing for Falcon. They were wrong. No six year old with a household name has ever done well. In fact, the most successful one to date just died of a drug overdose. His name was Michael Jackson.
So I say let the ‘Balloon Boy’ drift out of the headlines. Let him be a normal kid away from the cameras. Let him have a shot at a productive life. And make sure his parents don’t interfere with the process. In fact, someone should revoke the Heene's ability to purchase or operate A/V equipment. For Falcon’s sake.
Fact: Ten years from now the Gosselin kids will be smoking meth with the stars of “Britney Spears is My Mom.” The pipe sharing will be featured on the “Gosselin/Federline Road Rules Challenge.”
Fact: The Heene family will get its own TV show. It might be after Poppa Heene serves a few years in jail or the kids spend time in various orphanages (also a show), but “The Heene Family Flying Low” will happen. Damn straight it will.
And every time I order popcorn at the Frolic Room and watch the glowing metal coils heat and expand the foil bag resting above the portable stove, I’ll remember the Friday I sat on the edge of my seat and watched that same shape drift above the plains of Colorado.
With every kernel that pops: “Those Goddamn monsters.”