My Bear

Roger Rosenblatt

My bear is of the polar variety. He squats at
the other end of my kitchen table every morning, and he stares at
me with his black, black eyes. He does not move, but I hear his
even snorting. Gnnn, gnnn, gnnn. Like that, in a low guttural snort
that is neither threatening nor amiable. If my kitchen window is
open, the breeze will flutter the tips of his white fur. He is seven
or eight feet tall (I haven’t measured). There is nothing immediately
alarming about him, yet once I sit down, I am afraid to move.

He has something to do with my innermost fears—anyone
can see that. Or with my mood swings. Once I suggested to him that
he might be a bipolar bear, but he showed no amusement. I offered
him Frosted Flakes one morning, too. I do not think that bears have
a sense of humor.

I cannot recall when he first appeared—some
years ago, certainly. It was not in the morning that I first saw
him but rather one midnight, when, for lack of sleep, I came downstairs
for a snack of Jell-O, and there he was, glowing white in the light
of a full moon. I sat and stared at him, as he stared at me. Eventually,
I got sleepy and retired.

Lately, he has stirred from the kitchen, where
he spends his days, and has moved up to the bedroom at night, where
he squats at the foot of my bed. He seems to wish to be with me
night and day. I do not know what it is about me that attracts him.
If he sought to kill me, he could have done that long ago.

Bears may look cute, but they are ferocious. One
swipe of the paw, and I would be scattered around the room like
so many pieces of paper.

One night, I decided to flatter him, but it made
no impression. One night I presented a philosophical monologue to
him—something that yoked the fates of bears and men together
in harmony. He did not so much as blink. One night I cursed him
out. I don’t know where I got the courage, but I even raised my
hand to him. I hardly need to tell you, there was no reaction.

Here’s my problem: If he establishes his influence
in my household, as he has pretty much done already, how long will
it be before he follows me outside? How long before he accompanies
me to the newsstand or to the grocer’s? Think of the awkwardness,
the embarrassment. He is not Harvey, after all, not invisible. And
he is certainly not sweet-natured or wise. Soon, no one will come
near me out of fright.

I am thinking of calling up the ASPCA. Perhaps
tomorrow, or the day after that. My bear is an unwanted animal,
is he not? It is the business of the ASPCA, their duty, to take
unwanted animals, and treat them humanely. I would not want him
hurt. Yes, I will definitely call the ASPCA by the end of the week,
or early next at the latest, and tell them please to rid me of my
bear, my beautiful big white polar bear.

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