Life is a challenge, but at least it’s symmetrical. We race from our bald, incontinent, pudgy, babbling infancy to our bald, incontinent, pudgy, babbling old age. Along the way, there are a few notable bench marks and not the least of these is the moment when your adult children begin giving you advice. Recently, I was mulling over a story and told my eldest son that I wasn’t sure it would be interesting to anyone outside our family. And with one sentence, he gave me better writing advice than all the workshops and master classes combined. “Mom,” he said, “any story is better if you add a bear.”
My first thought was the obvious choice: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your bear.” Wouldn’t that surprise that randy prince peering up Rapunzel’s turret?
Imagine all the kiddies heading under the bed when Daddy closes the book and says, “Good night, bear.”
Perhaps we could goose up a Bible story or two. It would be so much more efficient to feed the multitudes not with two fishes but with two bears. And, pregnant Mary would have been at least as believable if she’d told Joseph, “A bear did it.”
News stories have gone off the charts. It’s hard to imagine how one could make them more surprising. Might as well add a bear. That Wisconsin pharmacist who destroyed Covid vaccines could easily have claimed that a bear ravaged his ampules. That’s more believable than the conspiracy theories he offered as rationalization. Or, how about this headline: scientists have learned that for no apparent reason, an octopus will often punch a fish. That’s weird with or without a bear. In fact, if a bear punched the octopus, the increase in weirdness might not even be statistically significant.
Wouldn’t it be something if King Edward the VIII had left the throne for a bear? If the royals had trouble accepting a divorcee, this surely would have sent them combing through the Magna Carta for precedents.
Remember when that photo hit the papers, the one of a nearly naked Melania Trump sprawled all over the cockpit of an airplane artfully draped in a wee doily? Actually, I don’t think a bear would make that one more interesting.
The next benchmark in my life no doubt will be that moment when my son reads this and calls his siblings for an emergency conference about mom. He’d better remember whose idea this was.