Monday, September 29, 2014

classic bear story

bear stories, in our household, mostly come out when we are camping but are likely to come out any time. they are characterized by a certain absurdity, starting with the fact that the bear always talks. but they are also characterized by a strong relationship between the bear and the boy, who is always in a little danger of being eaten if nothing else. here is the main one:

one day the boy was walking along in the forest when the bear jumped out at him and said he would eat the boy. the boy said, "whoa! don't eat me!" but the bear was determined. finally the boy made the bear an offer. "you should come down into town with me and eat a hamburger. when we get the hamburger, they put it in a bun, and then they have cheese, and relish, and ketchup and mustard, and tomato, and onion, and lettuce..." now the bear doesn't really know what all this stuff is, but he decides to give it a shot, since, if it's not enough to eat, he can always just go on plan a, which is to eat the boy. but as they walk through the forest, they run into a number of other animal friends.

first they run into the dog, and the boy describes the entire hamburger again: cooked well, with cheese, and tomato, and ketchup, and mustard, etcetera. pretty soon the bear is entranced by the sound of this exotic food which he's never tasted, but the dog is not impressed. "i am busy," he said, "chasing a cat." later they run into the cat, and the story is repeated. the boy describes the hamburger in detail, but the cat is busy chasing a mouse. when they get to the raccoon, the raccoon is planning to break into a garbage can, so he's too busy to go to town to get a hamburger.

when they finally get to town, it's just the boy and the bear again. on the restaurant is a sign that says "no shirt no shoes no service." the owner points it out and complains that the bear doesn't even have pants on either. the bear says he'll eat the owner along with the boy, and he doesn't care what anyone is wearing. they are standing outside the restaurant and in fact are pretty close to a parking meter.

so the meter man comes by and starts writing the bear a ticket for not plugging the meter. the bear maintains that he is not a car, so he should not have to plug the meter. the meter man says that it doesn't matter if you wear pants or not, if you are blocking the parking space and not dropping quarters in the meter, he'll give you a ticket. i don't have quarters, said the bear, because i don't have pockets. but i will gladly eat you, and drop some of your quarters into the little slot.

oh no no no no, says the boy, running from the restaurant out into the street to retrieve the bear. he has obtained a seat in the restaurant, after some waiting, and now wants the bear to join him for a dinner of two hamburgers with the works. the bear is stuck on the idea of "the works" but he was quite bored with the meter man, so he walks into the restaurant and joins the boy at the table near the juke box. now people are plugging the juke box with all kinds of quarters, and they are listening to classics of all time which come on repeatedly.

but a tow-truck driver pokes his head into the restaurant and asks if there is a bear in the house. yes, there is i, says the bear. the tow-truck driver says he was asked to come downtown and tow this bear who was blocking the road and refusing to let people park in front of the restaurant. you can't tow me, says the bear, i'm a bear, not a car, so take your tow truck and go tow someone else. they just about start a fight right there in the restaurant and one young child actually hides under the table because he's afraid there will be food and plates flying any minute. but the bear keeps his calm and simply reminds the tow truck driver that he can tow whoever he likes, but he can't fit the bear through the door without the bear's cooperation, or breaking the big window that says "eat" on it, and the tow-truck driver ends up complaining that this bear is not even wearing pants, even when you are supposed to be kicked out for as little as "no shoes no shirt." but it's too late, people have come to like the bear, and they don't like tow truck drivers, and even as he raises his voice they keep singing in french and banging their spoons against their glasses, and he just has to leave. the bear and the boy order apple pie with cream on top, and make a long night of it, telling stories and singing with the crowd. somebody brings out the raspberries, and that makes the bear really happy, but finally he remembers his little home in the woods, and stumbles home, in the middle of the night, glad that there's a large moon to light his way.

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