Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon Men

News? I seem to be too preoccupied. Something today though about a six year old boy who may have been carried away by the family's giant storm-chasing balloon. "Help! Help! Falcon was in the box and may have been carried away!" So might the hue and cry have gone out from the distraught-appearing brothers. A three hour chase, something seen to have plummeted to earth during the flight, and the balloon comes to ground, empty.

Turns out the boy was hiding in the garage attic. His father you see had YELLED at him for playing in that self-same balloon. It's not safe, you see, to play in the box of giant helium-balloons that are all set to sail away, maybe. "Falcon? Falcon! Where are you? Honey? Falcon! Are you here?! Or were you carried away into grave danger by the escaped balloon?!?"

Wolf Blitzer I think it was, who asked the question of the assembled and happily reunited family. "Falcon, why didn't you answer when you heard them calling?" Well, the boy is six, and barely speaks a human language. He said something like, "They told me ... we did this for the show." From the mouths of babes.

The father, you see, likes to be on television. On the show Wife Swap twice, it seems. Reality TV is a centrifuge of sorts, separating out the various types of humanity. Dad has the type of humanity that addresses a monologue to his 9, 8, and 6 year old sons that will have gone a little something like this: "Okay, Ryu, you say that you saw Falcon in the box, and you think he got carried away. Number Two son, you release the balloon, but don't let anyone see. Falcon, you hide in that box in the attic and don't answer when we call, and pretend that you were afraid because I supposedly yelled at you. Yeah, they'll buy that -- you're six -- it doesn't have to make sense that you hid for three hours in a box in the attic because I told you not to play in the balloon box. And when all the cameras come to look at me, just be cute and six. I'll handle the media. This is so great. We're gonna git our own show! 'The UFO Man!' 'The Tornado-Chasing Family!' Whatever. I'll pitch it to TLC. Maybe MTV. Whatever. They'll all come a-knocking! Cuz I'm so interesting."

Tens of thousands of dollars in search costs -- just for the helicopters. Canceled flights at the nearby airport. Well, that's fine, to rescue a little boy. Dad may have to pay it back, and that's as it should be. Pay for your mistakes. It's a sort of justice. He can't buy his way out of being an eh-hole, but we've always understood that. The real vileness was getting his poor impressionable children to collude in the sham. "Lie, boys. Lie."

The six year old puked twice during later interviews.

When I was 12 and the parents took us to the movies, and the cutoff age for children's admission was 11, and they told me to say I was 11 if asked -- that bothered me. Wasn't I supposed to be honest? Little things, that cause shame and confusion. Nothing like being kidnapped and held as a sex slave -- but little things matter too.

Parents need to respect their kids, as they themselves expect it. We show respect through our diligence and our integrity. I never lied to my son. Never. Well, I'm a rigid man in many ways. That's what righteousness is, though, and integrity. Rigid. It's about lines that will not be crossed. Some people don't have any lines at all. Just arrows, all pointing at themselves.

I watch TV while I eat dinner, now. Having that dog got me into it again. Saw the new Late Night show, and the Monty Python guys were on. Cleese is brilliant, but he did a cheap gag of throwing water at Terry Jones, unmotivated, just to be wacky. It was embarrassing. Hilarity ensued. Some time during the show Terry Gilliame, the cartoon guy who directs now, said that he had renounced his US citizenship three years ago. He said it as if it were a good and honorable thing. The host passed over it, wisely. It's a comedy show, and his role is to be the host, facilitating humor. Pass over the gaffs and gaucheness of your guest. It's gracious. The audience seemed not to notice, or was too polite to boo. Any vets in the house remained silent.

But what an asshole. It is his right, to renounce his citizenship. The fact that poor desperate little foreigners load themselves onto tied-together logs and sail the vast seas to get here -- that people leave their villages and families and walk and bus hundreds or thousands of miles to sneak across our boarder and live in fear of discovery, unfounded though such fear may be, that they may work crap jobs for little money ... somehow I must have more respect for them, even in their scofflaw actions, than for someone who was born into this great privilege, this golden ticket of US citizenship, and then renounces it. It is his right, though. And he had the, what? -- not integrity, not decency ... he had the understanding of his own character and loyalties to do the right thing, for such a one. Leave. It's better than to stay, and hate. It's probably why he was in England in the late 60s. Avoiding that old war.

Fathers' loyalty must be to their family. Teach your children to speak the truth. A citizen's duty is to defend his country. If you don't like a current president and his wrong-headed policies, well, we do have elections, and new administrations have new policies. See? Take the long view. If you lie to your little children, they are empowered to lie to you as teens, when it really really matters that they tell the truth. If you renounce the only hope the world has for liberty, well, you should be booed, and challenged by even a gracious host, when you announce it, smugly, as if pleased with a good thing that you've done -- something a fool would take for integrity.

So that's some news, and something I saw on television.


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