Bears & Fools...and me
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. They don't.
Here I am, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In the tourist attraction of the region, highlighted by 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 endless crowds of cash & card-carrying consumers spending tourist dollars on everything from the bizarre to the mundane, from food to souvenirs. Stores. Walgreen's. Aspirin! What do you mean?!! 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. Outside our hotel is a large creek bubbling and gurgling noisily in the night 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.
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 giant-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.
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 video it! With this new smart phone & video technology, I could even upload it on Face-book or 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...
IDIOT GETS MAULED BY BEAR Stupid tourist on late-night stroll walks up on two cub when things got nasty...
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, especially in this time of economic downturn. So much for me. How would they punish a bear? Fine it? Maybe suspend it's membership in the local Woodland Furry Creatures Guild, Local Chapter 101?
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! You dastardly gore-loving freaks! What is it with this innate morbid pre-occupation with death and disaster? Well. At least it'd fix my headache!
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 may 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 philiosphies, 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 staggering outside in the middle of the night doesn't get mauled by a bear.