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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