Floating isn’t Newsworthy

Bo Gemmell

Small children, deceptive parents, lightweight gases and “news” aren’t very important.

I vaguely remember a blurry weekend night toward the end of the Spring 2009 semester watching “1,000 Ways to Die” with my former housemate. For those not familiar with the program, “1,000 Ways to Die” highlights abnormal deaths throughout history.

The show airs on Spike TV, which is like a manly man’s version of Lifetime. We were fortunate enough to have DVR and record the episode so we could fast-forward through the commercials for beer, trucks and condoms. Then we got to the balloon clip.

The clip that night was of two college lovers who decided to fool around in a giant inflated basketball. I remember thinking that would be an awful death – imagine dying from an overdose of a gas not fit for human respiration.

Sure, I’ve seen several worse deaths on “1,000 Ways to Die,” but even an experienced fan such as myself went through a jaw-dropping moment when I saw these two idiots enter an enormous balloon that I assumed was filled with nitrous oxide – a gas known for its high – or some other substance other than our normal earthly air.

When I heard the girl’s voice switch from a normal tone to a high-pitched giggle, I knew my guessed gas was incorrect; she was on helium. We’ve all inhaled a small amount of helium from a balloon and talked in that high voice, but these two thought they’d take it a step further and mingle in a 100 percent helium environment.

I won’t describe the lovers’ deaths, but it was as nasty as any other overdose. If you’re curious, just search Google for “1,000 Ways to Die” and “balloon” or “helium” and see for yourself.

That was months ago, but last week headlines popped up in my Gmail account, talking about a kid who was allegedly trapped in a huge balloon and floating through the sky.

So I did the same thing I’ve done for the past year. This is something rather uncommon for a journalism major, something so mentally rewarding that I wish I would’ve thought of it sooner. I shrugged, ignored the news article and went to a more interesting Web site.

A friend later told me that this breaking news story was all a hoax. According to this friend, the kid’s parents planned the whole scheme, and he was hiding in the family’s attic while journalists went through a frenzy comparable only to Clinton’s sex scandal – another story that was neither interesting nor anybody’s business. Fortunately, this publicity stunt didn’t have too much influence on my life because I simply do not care about small children, deceptive parents, lightweight gases or “news.”

In the grand scheme of things, it’s really best if members of our species who are dumb enough to enter an all-helium environment do so and die. All I can do is hope that I’ll ignore news stories about these semi-celebrities when they aim for the come-up.

Bo Gemmell is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at mailto:[email protected].