Up Up and No Way.
by Meredith O'Brien
UPDATE: Okay, I -- actually we -- have been had, according to a sheriff in Fort Collins, Colorado who this weekend announced that authorities believe the entire runaway balloon fiasco was a hoax, planned weeks ago as an attempt to garner publicity in order to land a potential reality show. Felony charges, the sheriff said, are likely to be filed against parents Richard and Mayumi and their attorney has gone on national television pleading for police not to arrest the parents in front of their children because it would, be CHILD ABUSE. Making the kids lie to the cops and the media or getting a 6-year-old to hide for hours, that’s, apparently, all right, but slapping the cuffs on, THAT would be abuse?
I explicitly did NOT immediately jump on the “it’s-definitely-a-hoax” bandwagon, preferring instead to be cautious, while expressing mindful skepticism that many things seemed amiss. And this is the thanks I get for giving the Heene family the benefit of the doubt, being shown to be a chump. After hearing the emotional 9-1-1 call and feeling badly for the parents, boy, do I feel like an idiot.
While my husband and I were preparing dinner for our three kids Thursday night, our hearts were in our throats. Why? The balloon boy. We didn’t yet know the fate of 6-year-old Falcon Heene. For hours that afternoon, national news outlets had been riveted by images of a homemade helium balloon that a Colorado family had made which was flying out of control through Colorado skies. Falcon’s 10-year-old brother had told authorities that the youngest Heene was on board, so everyone was worried about his safety. The U.S. military dispatched aircraft, including a Black Hawk helicopter, to follow the balloon and, hopefully, rescue the boy. The FAA wouldn’t allow take-offs in the general area.
Before our dinner made it to the table, the news broke that Falcon was never on the balloon but had been hiding in an attic. My husband and I literally cheered because, once the balloon crashed and no one was on board, we, along with the rest of America, feared that the 6-year-old had fallen to his death.
That’s when everything went kaflooey and eyebrows started to be raised.
I soon learned that the Heene family had twice participated in the ABC reality show Wife Swap, where the father, Richard Heene had red-faced rages at the wives to whom he’d been assigned by the show, swore and hurled nasty names at them, then actually hurled a cup of milk at one of their heads. He was a hot-headed lunatic. (View the first of five parts of the latest Heene Wife Swap episode here. His three boys were depicted as following in Dad’s footsteps, swearing at the visiting mother, openly and hostilely disrespecting her, flipping her off and acting like wild little bratty things. Their mother, Mayumi Heene, who was “swapped” and placed with another family, was no prize either, swearing up a storm and calling the husband with whom she lived for two weeks a “loser” at the top of her lungs, in front of his sons.
The internet swirled with links to a “rap video” which featured the Heene boys and included Richard and Mayumi, called . . . hold onto your hats . . . “Not Pussified.” And if you make out the lyrics of what the boys are saying in this rap, I guarantee you’ll be horrified.