By Henrietta Heartburn
I’ve been worried lately with all the talk about bears, deer and other wildlife roaming the campus. It’s hard enough having to park several hundred or a few thousand yards from my dorm and carry a backpack, books, snacks and rain gear while checking my cell phone and walking to class.
My parents and Wally Smith keep telling me that the bears are just like some “Gentle Ben” they keep babbling on about when they talk about what TV was like when they were kids. But I’m worried that some bear will get the drop on me, drag me away and use all the meal swipes on my Cavs card.
What is a Gentle Ben?
Sorry about the late response. I had to wrestle a 425-pound polar bear at Food City for the last case of fruit-flavored Diet Coke … wait, was that the Coca Cola Christmas polar bear cutout? Makes perfect sense given that Halloween decorations were on store shelves in August. Or was it the Charmin toilet paper bear?
For starters, let me tell you – I used to watch “Gentle Ben” back in the coughcoughcoughcough. I even had a “Gentle Ben” lunchbox made out of stamped steel sheet armor plate that could carry a week’s worth of food and could leave an Alaskan grizzly bear with a creased skull and a month-long concussion. Yeah, back in my day, no one who worried about wildlife on Main Street carried one of those little plastic bento boxes with the mass/density ratio of two cotton balls.
And old “Gentle” Ben might not have mauled his adoptive family and human little brother, but he’d go after the nosy neighbor or nasty Everglades poacher like Yogi Bear after a candy-coated sockeye salmon in a picnic basket. So, yeah, you’re right to be worried about a bear catching you while you’re distracted by consumer electronics and thirty pounds of fashion and textbooks.
Benny, some people will tell you to wear a little tinkly bear bell to warn the bears that a mean old human is coming down the trail so they had better get out of your way. Like the joke they tell over around Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Why do hikers wear bells? So the bears know when dinner is served.
The experts say that bears can be scared away if you stand up really tall, make noise and act aggressive toward them. Let me ask you this; How’s your self-esteem when you encounter something that outweighs you by 50-100 pounds and stands tall enough to make you think there’s a solar eclipse? I didn’t think so.
First, I’d recommend not staring at your cell phone while walking around campus. Besides raising your level of situational awareness, not walking with your attention sucked into a smartphone screen will make you less likely to walk into a lamppost or statue in the Gilliam Sculpture Garden and become a stationary target for … wait for it … wait for it … a bear.
Second, travel light in bear countr … er, campus. Carry just the amount of books and note-taking materials you need to make your professors think you’re interested in class and are doing actual coursework.
Third, don’t carry around so much food. Do you want a bear to think you’re a two-legged vending machine? I thought not.
Finally, look on the bright side. You don’t live in Brest, France, where a lonely, oversexed dolphin named Zafar is trying to put the moves on watercraft and swimmers in the local waters.
I’d love to hear what your parents would tell you about that, how they used to watch “Flipper” on TV and how they carried around a sheet steel “Flipper” lunchbox.
Fine print: “Biased Advice with Henrietta Heartburn” is purely for entertainment value and not to be construed as actual advice – except in instances of evaluating the durability and puncture resistance of late 1960’s-early 1970’s school equipment. Null and void in all states except Kansas, where bears and dolphins-in-heat rarely occur and the deer and the antelope play, or in Ohhhhhhhhhhh-Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain ….