Thursday, June 16


I had some sympathy -- apparently misplaced -- for Jennifer Wilbanks when she emerged in Albuquerque, New Mexico, having disappeared from her hometown of Duluth, Georgia, on April 26th, leaving her husband-to-be, in a manner of speaking, standing forlorn at the altar sans wife-to-be. While I didn't abide her cock-n-bull story about being abducted, I felt she had some serious emotional problems to contend with and, after all, she has the right as an adult to venture anywhere she likes in this country, to be capricious, and, alas, rude and inconsiderate, if that is her bent. Such character flaws are not against the law. That a huge search was conducted almost immediately following notification of her disappearance had a lot to do, I think, with the fact that both hers and her fiance's families are prominent in the area and that pressure for action must have weighed heavily on local authorities, who were quick to conclude that something untoward had happened to Jennifer. Then, of course, the media siezed on Wilbanks' disappearance, dubbed it the "Runaway-Bride" story, and the 24/7 cable talking-heads gave it legs with endless "what-if?" analyses and incessant reiteration of the few facts known at the time. Indeed, they beat the "Runaway Bride" story to a pulp, no doubt hoping that a body would be discovered and a gruesome tale of abduction unfold. When she appeared alive to the patent consternation of much of the media, the talking heads savaged her; and, in turn, the Gwinnett County District Attorney, basking center-stage in his newfound glory, demanded his pound of flesh for the costs of the extensive local search and for her guileful tall tale.

But now I read this CNN report that Ms. Wilbanks has inked a deal with ReganMedia for the rights to her story and that of her fiance, John Mason, and I find myself beginning to loathe this woman who felt compelled to cover her head and hide from the glare of worldwide attention, as she made her embarrassing journey home from New Mexico, but now purposefully plans to step unshrouded into the center ring of a full-scale media circus in order to parlay financially her character flaws and disturbing psychological profile. That her ever-loyal, puppy-dog-compliant fiance has now revealed the true underpinnings of his fidelity -- the love of the almighty buck -- makes the entire matter all the more distasteful and repugnant.

I suspect now there will never be a church wedding. They'll probably get hitched on the "Jerry Springer Show" and honeymoon on "Larry King Live." I understand now why Jennifer's eyes are so large and owl-like -- they're in search of fool's gold.