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Where were you when you heard about the death of bin Laden?

Just Another Point of View
by: STAFF PHOTO MIKEL KELLY

Just Another Point of View

Mikel

Kelly

Where were you when you heard about the death of bin Laden?

It's become one of those things people can't seem to help prattling on about - where they were, and what they were doing, when they heard about the death of Osama bin Laden.

It's happened before, of course. We have felt compelled to issue reports about where we were when 9/11 happened (I was walking around the track at Jackson Middle School and listening to Mark and Brian on the radio) and - for those of us old enough to qualify - where we were when we heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy (I was in typing class at Waldport High School).

Why it matters where any of us were or what we were doing when something important happens is completely inconsequential, of course, but you must admit it's kind of cute that we insist on talking about it anyway.

In the case of the killing of the al-Qaida leader by special U.S. forces, though, the way I reacted to it had quite a bit to do with what I was actually doing when I heard.

The other person who lives at our house (TOPWLAOH) and I were watching television the night of May 1 when the freakishly large head of ABC news man George Stephanopoulos burst onto the screen to announce that 'Osama bin Laden is dead.'

This was especially unsettling to me precisely because of what we had been watching, and that was 'America's Funniest Home Videos.'

Without skipping a beat, my little brain pictured the terrorist leader flying off a trampoline onto his head on a concrete patio.

Even though the scene was entirely fictional, I cringed, like I do for all the other bizarre mishaps that one sees on the 'AHV' program (you know, the all-terrain vehicle that bucks a teenager off into a giant mud puddle, or the overweight mom who swings out over a riverbank on a Tarzan rope and falls on her face in the rocks, or the little kid whose first unassisted bicycle ride carries him directly into the side of the family sedan, or the drunken doofus who decides to show all the kids how to really ride a pogo stick or a skateboard or a mini-bike, or the T-ball coach who takes a line drive in the groin, or the grandma who figures the wedding reception would be the ideal time and place to climb up on a table and show everybody how the boogaloo is supposed to be done).

If you were watching '60 Minutes' May 1 instead of the funny video show, your impression would be quite different, but I have to admit that my reception of the news and how I processed it was greatly influenced by what I was doing.

It seemed to fit so perfectly.

Of course he's dead, I thought, without really thinking.

I am utterly amazed, after watching an hour of these crazy stunts and catastrophes, that any of us survives a typical day.

I seriously doubt that Osama bin Laden ever climbed up on the roof of his Pakistani compound with the intention of skiing off into a snowdrift, primarily because (A) there's not much snow in Abbottabad this time of year and (B) it would greatly increase the chances he might be seen by neighbors, in spite of the tall fortress walls.

It also is not likely that the bin Ladens ever celebrated a birthday inside the compound with a piñata, which, as we all know, only serves to allow blindfolded little kids to smack their elders in their most private (and sensitive) areas with big sticks.

Just for the record, I am glad they got rid of Mr. bin Laden, although I didn't feel a need to drive around whooping and hollering after I heard the news. I also have no need to see pictures of the body.

And, my reaction to those who don't believe he's really dead: How about you prove he isn't - or shut up.

Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.