By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
New pet bear doesnt eat dog but cant be an indoor pet
Green "life" soda exists. My black bear does not anymore. - photo by Steve Eaton
I bought a bear this morning for $30. Im not sure it was a smart move.

I dont really know anything about bears. This is some sort of black bear that is not too big and seems to have a mellow disposition. It doesnt bite or growl, and it is friendly to strangers. I know because I took it around and introduced it to some of our neighbors before I even brought it home. It didnt attack any of them.

The surprising thing was that when I brought the bear in the house, my wife wasnt overly alarmed or angry that I had introduced a new pet into the mix without discussing it with her first. The bear immediately started playing with our dog without eating him, which was a good sign. My wife did get upset when the bear reared up on his back legs and started to chew on a framed painting on our wall.

That was when I realized this would have to be an outdoor bear and that, since we live on a busy street with no fenced-in backyard, this would represent an immediate and serious challenge. The bear smelled like a bear, and I suspected that if we kept it in our house, we would become like those people who have a smelly bear in the house and dont realize that their whole house has odor de la bear because theyve gotten used to it.

I began to regret my decision. Life had become so complicated.

That is when I suddenly woke up and realized that I had forgotten to set my alarm. I then went into phase two, a mode I go into nearly every morning before completely waking up. The logic in phase two goes something like this:

Oh, man, what a relief, that was probably a dream. Id better check to see if the bear is doing any damage.

This is usually followed by some irrational thought like, Dream or no dream, the fact is you bought a bear and you are going to have to figure out what to do with it. The only way to do that is go back to sleep and resolve this before you wake up.

Usually, I try to do just that, and then reality overtakes my life in the strangest ways.

For example, in this case, instead of asking myself how unlikely it is that I actually bought a bear for $30, knowing nothing about bears or how to raise them, I found myself wrestling with something that seemed even more absurd in my groggy half-sleep state.

How likely is it that I could spend $30 on a bear, bring it home and not get killed by my wife for buying something that is not on the approved grocery list?

In my world, we live by rules my wife sets after she votes on them. There is, for example, an unwritten approved grocery list. You can buy bread, milk, peanut butter, strawberry jelly and boring generic cereal with no questions asked, but if you buy fancy-pants real juice, frozen pizza or any kind of cereal with chocolate in the title, you have to have a good explanation for doing so. That explanation cant be a lie such as, Honey, I swear they were giving away this new choco-cinnamon toast cereal with every bottle of milk you buy, because my wife has an uncanny sense for recognizing grocery falsehoods.

Sometimes Im telling the truth and I still get in trouble. Like recently, I bought a six pack of a new kind of soda that is good for you because it is made with cane sugar, has the word life on the green can and was on display in the fake food, healthy section of the store. Thats the area that has food that looks like normal food but comes in smaller, more expensive boxes and has no actual flavor. For example, I bought some fake, health-food Froot Loops-type cereal the other day and after eating a few bites wondered if I had accidentally wandered into the dog fake-food, health-food section of the store.

All soda is categorically off the approved list because it tastes good, so I had to explain that cane sugar is good for you because it is more expensive, the cans are green and the cans say that life soda has fewer calories than real soda. In the end she bought a sad face and a plea for mercy because Ive been sick for a couple weeks with a cold/flu that now mimics the symptoms of smoking for 40 years. I guess she figured if I was going to cough myself to death I could drink green, life soda.

So if I had to go through all of that just to bring a six pack of soda into the house, how likely was she to have just gone with the flow when it came to a black bear in the living room? Not very likely. Thinking along this line slowly brought me into the waking world, where I realized that once again I was nearly past deadline on a column that I had to write and fill with grown-up facts and submit.

And here you are. Sucked into my world of early-morning black bears and green soda. Which makes me start to wonder: How likely is it that my newspaper would run a column that starts with a fabricated story that slowly merges into a tale about life health soda that many people wont believe, even though its true?

Oh, no. Maybe Im still asleep. Id better wake up. Just dont say anything. Dreaming or not, the fact is I submitted that very column and they ran it. Dont say anything to them. Ill go back to sleep and fix it right now.