LPTrendsOldSchoolLessons: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. A True, Fictional Story by Tracy Saville
A lizard, a bear, and a priest walk into to a bar, single file, and the lizard, who then passes by a mirror, realizes he is with a bear and instantly panics, sprinting for the door. Faster than you can inquire, “is that a horny toad?” the lizard is gone, down Fifth Avenue, on to safer streets. The priest, saddened by the lizard’s abandoning nature, so sure he was that morning his lizard friend would never leave his side, turns to the bear and politely asks what is obvious to everyone at the bar. “Do you plan to eat me?”
“That depends.” Says the bear, looking the delicious priest up and down as if he were the best first course he’d ever met. “Black bears are herbivores and don’t much cotton to meat products such as yourself. On the other hand, your friend the lizard sure did run fast.”
The priest, who is a devout man of the cloth and God-driven through and through calculates the bear’s tone. And upon closer scrutiny decides God would surely keep him from harm. He decides to confront the bear with all his ordained might.
“I don’t see what running has to do with me. I didn’t run. I stood my ground when I realized you were a bear. I know who you are, Bear. I trust we can have a drink between friends and go our separate ways.”
The bear again considers the priest. And there is a long silence. Finally, the bear saddles up to the bar and orders Petron Silver tequila, a double, downing it without the required salt, although he did savor the lime between his jowls, for effect.
The bear turns to the priest and stands to his full nine feet of height, impressive in the low-ceilinged establishment. The priest cowers, beginning to show signs of pensive concern about confronting an intoxicated bear, even one who ate only grass and tree limbs.
“See,” said the bear to the ashen-looking priest, “number one: I’m not a black bear, I’m a grizzly bear. Meat is my friend. And you, Priest, are definitely meat. Number two: I’m an atheist, because if God existed he’d have had the good moral sense not to force me to live in a cave for nine months out of the year and starve to death trying to eat my own fat. You have no more value as a priest than that guy over there with the limp. And three: lizards know they don’t have to outrun a bear; they just have to outrun their priests. And that makes you the dumbest priest I ever met.”
And with that the priest lost his faith because the bear did what bears do, and ate the priest, the best one he’d had in months. The bar patrons enjoyed the show on account of them not being used to seeing grizzlies in that part of Manhattan, and the bear went to find the lizard, because bears don’t cotton to quarry that runs. It scares them, and then it makes them mad, and then, well, they follow; it’s their nature.
The moral to this story?
You can never outrun a bear, and that’s why you should always go to the woods, or a bar, with older, slower, dimmer folks than you. Oh, and always carry a second set of car keys in case the bear happens to trip when he gives chase and allows you to make it back to the safety of the vehicle.
Plan for the worst, and hope for the best, but don’t hang out with lizards, because they are the single most conniving, backstabbing, self-absorbed creatures in the animal kingdom. Lizards will leave you every time.
The true story…
It was a weekend made for lovers, which we were, strolling among the golden meadow grasses of Onion Field at Emigrant Gap in the Sierra Nevada foothills, when we came upon a road. Meandering slowly toward it with our two dogs, a miniature Husky and a rescue terrier with a rascal attitude, we began to head around the bend. Tim turned first and stopped, dead in his tracks.
Before that moment, a split second, I was rolling over the thought in my unplugged mind how sweet the mountain evening air felt and tasted, and how peaceful I was after a grueling week of start-up wackery. And then it all changed, in an instant.
“Sshh.” Tim whispered, crouched low as I turned the corner, thinking he saw a what, a possum, likely, or a skunk, maybe. I followed suit, bent my head around the corner, craning until the figure up the road appeared in my line of sight. It was close enough to touch.
The next ten minutes were a blur. All I recall is a ball of fear grabbing me by the throat and forcing me into a dead sprint, me the girl who has Achilles tendon issues and is over-worked, under worked out, and entirely too high strung at the moment.
There was a bear as big and ferocious as the surrounding mountains now seemed, and I ran, like a screaming banshee, Husky in tow. My escape run turned into a life-pursuing sprint, like the old days when I broke the record at Placer Elementary School in 1979. I ran so fast, I was dragging my dog, Buddy, who is so fast he can outrun a wild turkey, and has on many occasions.
I turned back once to see if my husband was being chomped on by the vicious excursion interloper, when Tim yelled at me with true fear in his face, “Tracy, run! He’s coming!” And I swear I saw the bear just behind Tim, and I turned and began to sob, out loud, certain my life was over, running harder, for my life.
And it happened just like that, until Tim began to laugh, and he called after me, sheepishly, but with pleading in his soul.
“Sweetheart! I’m kidding! The bear is gone. Stop before you hurt yourself!”
Now, I am a warrior. I am made of steel the way some people think they are, but I really am. Adversity only makes me fight harder, and I can be counted on to be as strong as any man, woman, or bear. I don’t run; I run to. I don’t abandon those I love; I stand firm and protect my village.
This is why when all of the stress and the panic of that moment and every week of the past six months caught up to me, I fell and then crouched down, grabbing my legs to make sure I hadn’t separated them at the Achilles, and cried as if I’d lost my inner core. I cursed the sky, entirely undone, afraid of my own shadow.
The truth hit me hard. It was a brown bear, not a grizzly. It had been sixty yards away, not right in front of my face. I ran like the time I split every bit of the tissue in my left leg and lost the use of it for a year, apparently incapable of learning that lesson the first time. I should have had keys on me, in case it had been a real bear chase and I made it to the truck first. I, apparently, am over-attached to the outcome of everything and so have re-booted the fear monster and need to kick him to the curb.
And most importantly, you don’t have to outrun a bear; you just have to be able to outrun your husband, who cottons himself a real trickster as he pointed out my lack of integrity by leaving his ass on the mountain road to fend for himself.
Later, we nearly got run off the highway by a drunk driver, and we giggled like little girls the entire way home, lost somewhere between sheer exhaustion, joy in being alive – literally – and grateful for the lessons we seem to get when we need them the most.
That bear could have run. My husband could have gotten eaten. My legs could have snapped again in two. And that bear could have been a grizzly. But he wasn’t, and Tim didn’t, and my legs are 46, but they’re hanging in there, so we’re okay.
The moral of this story?
You can’t outrun a bear, but you can sometimes get lucky. And lizards are fairly self-absorbed. You can look it up.
If you liked this piece, you might also like: How To Become A Sane Girl.