The Bear and I
Denver – Good afternoon, everybody! I hope you have been doing well. Yesterday was a beautiful and sunny day: I went hiking with a few friends of mine and found some waterfalls. I mean, they were not the kinda waterfalls that you’d see in movies, what with millions of gallons of water gushing over a rock cliff or something like that. It was one of ‘em waterfalls that .. like, oozed water, ya’know what I’m sayin’? Yah. Well, it was going pretty swell until someone yelled, “BEAR! RUN! BEAR!”
Like .. everybody forgot to tell the deaf boy, man.
And guess who is a deaf boy?
Yah, well ..
So, while everybody was runnin’ and runnin’ for the hills, guess what I was doin’? I was just standing there, enjoying the panoramic views and feelin’ at peace with the world, and everybody else was like .. tumblin’ and rumblin’ down the mountain behind me.
And when I saw the bear, dude, I was kinda like .. umm .. how do I say this?
I damn-near crapped my pants. But I didn’t and I feel it is important that I remind you that I did NOT poop the pants.
I think I might’ve screamed like a hot blonde chick in a horror flick. Yes. Yes.
But I ain’t pooped the pants, aigh’t?
So, I saw the bear and felt my heart drop to my ankles, and my mind had already left for the parking lot a few thousand feet below – but still, I stood there (with clean pants, I might add) and froze. Survival experts are always sayin’ stuff like, “If you see a bear, stand up for yourself! YELL! STOMP! Do not cower in fear – bears sniff fear and then they will CRUSH you!”
The bear was about six foot high at the shoulders, I reckoned. I am not even sure why I reckoned or what exactly “reckon” means but it seems to be the right word here. I was reckoning that the bear was kinda thick and big, dude. I mean, he was like .. massively muscular. And brown, too. Well, not ‘sactly brown but more like .. well, okay, brown.
Sucks being color-blind, dude.
The bear looked more like an oversized dog than a bear I reckoned. Well, okay, I thought that the bear looked like an oversized dog. When the bear smiled and showed its canines to me, I immediately reminded myself that bears eat blueberries and sheeeeet like that, but not humans. I mean, really, I was trying to convince myself that the bear was harmless and would not rip off one of my arms, or a leg, or an appendix or some such sheeeet like that.
I reckoned I had to say something, so I did, “What time is it, fella?”
The bear looked at me and raised an eyebrow. Silence followed. Well, silence always follows me ’round, dude – it is what some deaf people like me have followin’ after ‘em. I figured the bear was probably growlin’ and snortin’ and doin’ things that only bears do in the wild and that because I was standing in a tourist spot that had once been filled to the brim with human tourists that the bear would do no harm to me.
But there was no reply to my question. I thought to ask another one, “Are you gonna kill me, dude? ‘Cos like, that wouldn’t so work out for me, ya’know?”
The bear acknowledged me by raising up from its hindquarters, blocking out the sun and casting a shadow over me that chilled every bone in my body. My mind was already in the parking lot, looking for a ride home, and I had no idea what to do. The thought of screaming crossed my mind, but then I reckoned the future derisive jokes from my human buddies about my screaming was reason enough to not yell for help. And since I was already talkin’ to the bear and nuthin’ had happened yet, I figured there was something else I could do.
I signed to the bear.
Remember, I am deaf, aigh’t?
So I signed, “Big bear. Big and ugly bear. Big and ugly bear with bad breath. HaHa!”
The bear paused momentarily. A reckon crossed my mind: what if the bear knows sign language like Koko the ape did?
I reckon I worried about that.
I cleared my throat and was surprised to see the bear was startled. So I faked a cough. The bear flinched backwards.
“Ahh .. yes. You are afraid of swine flu, ain’t you?”
The bear snorted its reply. I smiled back at the bear, suddenly feeling confident that my mind was already halfway back up the mountain to where I stood, facing a menacing, growling carnivore. Or omnivore. Or herbivore. Or whatever the ‘vore bears are s’posed to be, dude.
A moment passed and the bear sat back down on all four paws, allowing the sun to once again warm my freckled shoulders. The creature huffed or some such sheeeeeet like that ‘cos it kinda looked like it was coughing, you know? I mean, I’ve seen dogs when they whined: you can see their jowels flapping as they whine, and for some odd reason or another, when the bear’s jowels began flapping like a dog’s, I reckoned that the bear was probably huffing, but not whining.
Have you ever heard a bear whine?
Another minute of huffing went by, and I stood as motionless as I could possibly stand. But my hands were shakin’ and sweatin’, and my heart was poundin’ and squeezin’ my chest, and my feet stood frozen to the ground – I was stuck in a nervous state. My mind had not yet made the final flight of steps up the mountain, and I was still clueless about what to do.
Nothing moved. Not a tree swayed, a leaf fall, or a raccoon rob a squirrel’s bank.
My eyes, though, they were dartin’ everywhere and all at once. I felt light-headed more than once as my eyes searched and panned for clues that help would be on the way. Out of the corner of my eye, the parking lot at the base of the mountain looked like a deserted patch of black tar, and not a human being could be seen.
I felt hopelessly alone.
Still, I was believin’ in myself that somehow, I’d find a way to get past the bear, back down to the parking lot, and home in time for SportsCenter.
An itch in my throat from the dry, high-altitude air made me cough, and the bear was once again startled. I coughed forcefully again, and the bear backed up a little. I coughed s’more and the bear took s’more steps backwards. I sneezed and the bear raised a questioning snout at me.
I signed, “Bear, bear, it ain’t fair that you are here and that I did not hear you near. Yes. Yes. It is most unfair.”
And to my surprise, the bear sighed. I mean, can you imagine seeing a bear sigh? Yah, well, Winnie the Pooh does it all the time, but he ain’t no murderous, menacing meat-eater, ya’know what I’m sayin’? The beast just sighed.
I sighed, too. The bear looked at me in agreement.
I signed to the bear, “Sir, I will now leave you to enjoy your pristine wilderness. Fare-thee-well, lad.”
Replied the bear, “Ahh .. ”
To which I responded, “Ahh .. indeed.”
The bear paused before turning away, slowly walkin’ or pawin’ its way up the mountain ahead of me. I felt my heart return to its original cavity and my chest relaxed enough for my mind to finally re-enter my brain. I wiped clammy hands on my shorts and exhaled in relief – it’d been an endorphin-poundin’ experience.
I glanced back at the parking lot and saw that there were, indeed, still no signs of human activity, and about the same time I reckoned that, my cellphone vibrated. I mean, first of all, I wasn’t expecting my cellphone to buzz way out in the middle of no-damn-where, but it did. And second of all, I had completely forgotten I even had a cellphone with me during the entire time the bear and I reckoned one another, but at least, for now, I could text my buddies and ask for a ride home.
But apparently, the bear’s curiosity was piqued by the sound of my cellphone’s vibrations and had stopped dead in its tracks. It had turned around and raised its snout at me. I coughed and signed, “Ahh .. it is just my friend – he wants to know if I am still alive.”
The bear huffed – I already ‘splained that, aigh’t? – and began walking towards me. I signed, “I texted back that, ‘No. This is the bear. I have eaten your friend. Shall you care to join me for dinner, human?’ HaHa!”
The bear stopped its approach towards me and bared its teeth. I smiled back. And then without warning, and with such a sudden force that I never saw comin’, the bear winked at me.
And then it turned around once again and began walking back up the mountain. Under my breath, I whispered, “Whew.”
Fifteen minutes later, my buddies returned to the parking lot and were amazed that I was still alive. I told them about my experience and included words like, “arm triangle” and “superman punch” and “body slam” to describe my encounter with the wild and dangerous animal. They were impressed. And so was I.
I never told ‘em about the signing part, probably ‘cos most of my friends do not sign, anyway. And I never told ‘em that the bear and I are now buddies, though I won’t be making any trips back to that mountain anytime soon, neither.
Yes. Yes. Indeed.
So you have it on my good authority that yelling or stomping your feet at bears ain’t gonna work, okay? You got to sign to ‘em. If you don’t know sign language and you’re out in the woods and run into a bear, flashing gangsta signs just ain’t gonna work – the bear will most likely shoot you with a bazooka, anyway.
Yah, well .. I reckon.
And I ain’t pooped the pants, neither.
Be good .. or be good at it.