I'm stupid busy this morning, so former Sun-Sentinel writing coach and dedicated public servant John DeGroot is filling in for me. Here's his latest screed on the Sentinel's Help Team and HT columnist Daniel Vasquez, who penned an undeniably ludicrous column this weekend about missing children. He opens the thing with a dubious statistic that he says curdles his blood: A child goes missing in America once every 40 seconds.
Yeah, just turns out that 99 percent of them were playing in their closet. It's idiotic, but hey, when you're mission is to scare the hell out of people and then make them think you're a "help" to them, I guess anything goes.
Anyway, heeee--eeeeere's Johnny:
"The depth and creativity of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's intrepid Health Team leaves me in constant shock and awe.
Especially noteworthy was this Sunday's effort by Help Team advising readers "What to do if your child is missing" by Daniel Vasquez, a beamish poster boy of what the newspaper's editors feel their readers will trust.
Most remarkable was the sequence Vasquez urged his readers to follow when their children go missing.
One — Call police.
Two — Take a second look in your child's bedroom, closets and
yard to see if your offspring is still missing.
Three — Check with friends and relatives to see if they know where your kid is.
Actually, a thoughtful review of the sequence in Vasquez' missing child timeline suggest the need for a second Help Team column detailing "How to tell if your child is missing before you call the police."
Given the current perverts-under-every-rock and lost-kids-on-milk-cartons paranoia in modern America, there's clearly a legion of Be-Very-Afraid Help Team columns.
What to do if your child:
-- Eats stuff like ground glass — Tens of millions of kids in America eat all kinds of stuff — and at least one percent of it isn't fried, which offer a whole host of gourmet terrors.
-- Has excess navel lint — Of course, every parent knows their kids grow lint in their belly buttons. But, do they KNOW what they're doing with the stuff when no one's around?
-- Keeps touching there thing "down there" — Now there's a horror every parent must deal with.
-- Farts and laughs — Farting is one thing. We all do it. But post-fart laughing is a whole other issue which the Help Team should look into.
-- Rolls boogers — True, Dave Barry's already covered this one. But, as Dave himself would say, you can't write too much about boogers.
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-- Shouts bad words at midgets — Good as they are, the Help Team's helpers should probably check with a child psychologist on this one.
-- Argues with invisible friends - Now this is a tricky one. Especially if the child always loses. Best bet? Heavy drugs, probably. But again, the Help Team needs to check with a mental health expert.
-- Sees the Virgin Mary in their Fruit Loops — Ideal for the Help Team helping El Sentinel.
-- Uses their allowance to buy Tribune stock — Rare problem, but almost as heart breaking as a kid dressing like The Waynester to get the most candy on Halloween."