Up, up and away with great parenting

The only explanation I have for my fascination with the Fort Collins “balloon boy” saga is that it’s a relief to find a guy out there who’s a worse dad than I am.

By now you’ve all heard the sordid details of Richard Heene, who possibly could face several felony charges, including one for naming his son “Falcon.” I really don’t know why you’d punish your kid with a name like that. It’s a free country, of course, but if you think naming your child “Falcon” is a good idea, I just wonder what names you cross off your list for being “too weird.”

Anyway, the saga unfolded several weeks ago, when a mesmerized nation stared at TV sets, watching a silver object fly thousands of feet in the air as helpless authorities were unable to communicate with it or get it to land.

It was like taking a Northwest flight to Minneapolis.

When the scam was revealed, the entire country was justifiably outraged. Exploiting your child in public and setting them up for ridicule later just to get yourself in the media is just plain evil. I should know. I do it every Wednesday.

But at least I wouldn’t send my daughter up alone in a dangerous, experimental aircraft. Unless large sums of money were involved. The Heenes, however, apparently had no problem convincing us their son was in danger. It’s been estimated that the whole ordeal and rescue effort has ended up costing millions of dollars, and that Larimer County Sheriff Jim Aldermen may go after the parents for restitution.

Frankly, I didn’t know wasting taxpayer money was a crime. Nancy Pelosi should be worried.

The victim in all this, of course, is little Falcon. I feel pretty bad for him, and not just for his name. Ever since his fruitcake parents pulled this stunt, everyone at his school has teased him, bullied him, and ridiculed his family. And that’s pretty bad considering he’s home-schooled.

This brings us to another dad in the news who is helping to make me look good in comparison. His name is Jon Gosselin, he of the hit reality show, “Jon and Kate Plus We’ve Sort of Lost Track but We Know There’s At Least 6 or 7 of Them.”

My wife loves this show, and it’s incredibly popular. I’ve watched it, but I don’t understand why this couple is so famous. Judging by what little I’ve seen, the only discernible talent they possess is the ability to obtain a prescription for fertility drugs.

Now they’re getting divorced, which, considering their circumstances, is not entirely shocking. I’m not sure how you deal with the stress of having eight screaming kids, but I’m guessing heroin is involved. What is surprising is that Jon had the nerve to take off on a European vacation with a mistress. I’m someone who tries to be a responsible family man, so when I found out this slimeball completely abandoned his family to fly to a French resort with a 22-year-old blonde, you can imagine my reaction.

That’s right, I was extremely jealous.

But I was also disgusted. We middle-aged family men have responsibilities. Yes, a nagging wife and houseful of screaming kids may be hectic, but you shouldn’t go around cheating on your wife with some 22-year-old. Twenty-five is about as low as you should go, otherwise it just looks bad.

And yet, no matter what you think of dads like Jon Gosselin or Richard Heene, you have to admit they are sort of interesting. Which is why I’ve come up with an idea for a new reality show: “Adventures with Richard & Jon.” We’ll take these attention-hungry fathers and film them as they navigate through the legal system while simultaneously chasing both storms and cocktail waitresses.

It will be a season full of exciting TV adventures — assuming that is, they survive the thrilling first episode. And let me tell you, it’ll be awesome.

We’re going to send them up in an experimental balloon and see what happens.


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