Bears & Fools
Early morning strolls
It's about 2:30 A.M. and I've got a headache. Headaches love to pop in unannounced around late night or early morning hours. So I get up and leave my motel room to trudge off to the lobby, up the hill in another building. Hopefully they have aspirin or something. Of course they don't.
Here I am, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In the tourist attraction of the region, bathed in the perpetual glow of neon lights; I find it ironic that I can't get an aspirin at 2:30 A.M. In a local economy built entirely on spending; frequented by crowds of card-carrying consumers, spending money on everything from the bizarre to the mundane, from food to souvenirs.
A few blocks down the hill, I'm surrounded by stores. Most are closed. Including the Walgreen's.
Closed? Are you kidding me?!!
So I traipse my weary body and pounding headache back to my room in the middle of the night -morning, night...whatever- surrounded by hotels and mountains. In the moonlight, it's a beautiful, if not surreal, scene. It's perfect! As in maybe the perfect setting for an Ichabod Crane encounter with something I wouldn't want to run into in the middle of the night. I'm scanning the shadows for whatever may be lurking in the dark. Outside our hotel is a large creek bubbling and gurgling noisily as the water cascades along, splashing and colliding wildly from rock to rock in a turbulent thrashing and clashing of water, sort of like inside my head.
My ten minutes of fame - I'd probably wind up as a paragraph in some insignificant article that ends up at the bottom of a bird cage.
Bears & tourists
And suddenly I think, here I am in the dark in the Smoky Mountains wandering around in...bear country. Didn't they warned us about the bears when we checked in? A couple of cubs have been seen in our area with one aggressive, protective momma bear.
Forget that mental picture you may be harboring of a lovable but somewhat dopey, over-sized Teddy-bear. Forget Yogi snatching another pic-nic basket right from under Ranger Smith's nose. Think again. Wrap your brain instead around 400 pounds of fur-covered fury; a monster-sized brute of paw and claw and a very bad disposition, should she feel her cubs are threatened.
Bears like to frequent places where people are since we tend to leave hordes of wasted food wherever we go. You may have noticed that bears don't often go out to eat at restaurants since very few have credit cards; this is why you rarely see one dining out at say, a Denny's or a Cracker Barrel. But they do eat out. To you and I it may be an ignominious garbage can; to a foraging raccoon or hungry omnivorous bear -a five-star smorgasbord.
Bad timing...and headlines!
That would be just my luck to stumble on two too-cute cubs with an estrogen-enraged brute in my path in the dark of night ( morning, night...whatever ). I could get mauled while everyone else is asleep in their beds. All they'd find the next day would just be a tennis shoe with a few teeth marks. Then I had a strange and morbid thought; I don't even have my video camera. If I'm going to get mauled I may as well record it! I could even upload it on You-Tube while I'm bleeding out on the ground after the attack. My ten minutes of fame - I'd probably wind up as a paragraph in some insignificant article that ends up lining the bottom of a bird cage of some parakeet with a bowel problem. Or maybe a headline? Like...
Idiot Tourist Mauled By Bear In Late Night Stroll
Careless tourist on late-night stroll walks up on two cubs when things turned nasty...
A misfortunate encounter
One moment I'm thinking about a bear attack, the next I'm contemplating how this would impact the local tourism industry. Some would-be tourists would stay home for fear of similar attacks; others would flock to town in hopes of witnessing a gory incident firsthand. I myself would hate to think my indiscretion may have disrupted the local economy but not getting mauled by a bear is perhaps depriving EMT's and morticians of gainful employment.
So much for me. How would they punish a bear?
The end of the story is that I made it back safe to the room. But I suspect what some of you are thinking; some of you were hoping I did get mauled!
What is it with this innate morbid preoccupation with death and disaster? Well. At least that would fix my headache!
A fool in his folly...
On the way back to my room, I'm reminded of another hazard, similar yet different.
Proverbs 17:12 says, "Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man rather than a fool in his folly."
That might sound extreme but a bear can only do physical harm -bad enough in itself. But a 'fool in his folly' can inflict irreparable harm on so many more levels; emotional harm, caustic attitudes, destructive philosophies, embarking on a path of a perpetual cycle of sardanapalian excess, to name a few. Many would instantly recognize and avoid the former only to wander headfirst into the latter.
Beware of bears and fools! And I sure hope that poor guy meandering around outside in the middle of the night doesn't get mauled by one.
Better yet. Why not just stop at the Walgreens on the way in and pick up some aspirin?
© 2012 Jim Henderson