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Land of the Lost

Good news, everyone! Children are no longer being abducted in America!

I had no idea this was the case, but apparently we’ve managed to reunite every runaway, abductee, and cadaver with its distraught parents. Things have gotten so good that the latest missing child I’m now on the lookout for is a 55-year-old woman who went missing in 1975.

I tend to briefly glance at the bundle of grocery circulars I receive every week before consigning them to oblivion, and that glance typically includes the latest missing kid that I’ll never spot. I do this because I like to think of myself as a good person, and the minimal mental effort required to glance at a photo is one of those easy ways to reassure ourselves that this is the case.

Sure, I’ve yet to hunt down one of these missing kids. Yet, clearly, if I stay on the case, eventually I’ll blunder into one.

We can now stop focusing on, say, kids who were abducted by strangers a month ago, and instead bet everything on accurately being able to solve the coldest of cold cases.

And, as I said, these collective efforts have paid off so handsomely that we can now stop focusing on, say, kids who were abducted by strangers a month ago, and instead bet everything on accurately being able to solve the coldest of cold cases.

Obviously, this is a worthy cause. The girl is probably still being held by her captors. Hell, maybe they’ve moved her at some point during the past four decades, and she’s now in a secret POW camp in Vietnam. Her bunkmates presumably include Elvis, Tupac, Amelia Earheart, Anastasia Nikolaevna, and the Roswell UFO. Eclectic list, I know.

The Roswell UFO, by the way, sucks to bunk with. Keeps its damn lights on to all hours of the night.

We humans like to be absurdly optimistic at times. Everyone on that list has been rumored at some point to be alive and well, if only we looked in the right place. Well, OK, the UFO wasn’t really “alive,” but its existence is an article of faith among a select few.

I’m all for allowing people to believe wacky stuff, but it annoys me when these nutjob theories intrude on my existence. Particularly if I think we could all collectively spend our time in better ways.

After a quick Google search, I was deeply disappointed to discover that children are still being abducted in America. This fact implies that maybe those less ice-cold cases might, just possibly, be a better use of our collective effort than a woman who vanished 41 years ago at the age of 14.

Perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe when you focus on finding missing kids all day, every day, a certain fatigue sets in. Could be this is the end result: You just start finding the strangest missing persons cases you can find and roll with them.

When you go missing at 14, and nobody ever hears from you again, one of two things is true: either you’re dead or you don’t want to be found.

Ironically, if the kid had gone missing at an earlier age, I could see the appeal behind such a search. If you were abducted young enough, you might not even know you were abducted. But when you go missing at 14, and nobody ever hears from you again, one of two things is true: either you’re dead or you don’t want to be found.

Which means I struggle to see how this flier is anything other than salve for decades-old wounds. Is it the hope of the missing woman’s elderly parents that this last-ditch effort will finally guilt their daughter into dropping them a line and explaining why she went on an extended walkabout? Do they hope for a similar guilt to inspire the now-elderly abductor into confessing and trying to remember where he stashed her body?

I don’t get it. We’ve got kids we could be searching for who have a much better chance of being found.

It’s very American to bet on the long shot. We love impossible odds. Just check out your chances of winning Powerball for proof.

But I don’t see why missing kids should be included in our gambling habit. How about we skip the long shot and just bet on black?

Find the warm cases, and then we can tackle the cold cases. Which is another way of saying, if you lost your kid last century, your kid is gone. I’m sorry I have to tell you this. Someone has to.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

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About Jared Kendall

Jared Kendall
A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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