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My Revenant: I Fought A Bear Once
By: Mickael
The recent Christmas Day release of The Revenant has many people talking. They’re discussing the brilliant screenplay based on real events, the brutality of the shoot nearly killing its participants, and of course the possibility that this could be the film which finally affords DiCaprio that ever-elusive Oscar for Best Actor. Another thing people have been talking about is bear rape. Leo doesn’t get bear-raped, as the rumors online had alleged. However, as a fur trader on the run from aggressive Native Americans, he does face off with one motherfucker a horrible ursus arctos. Since I hate doing movie reviews, I decided that instead of telling you how cool or uncool the film was, I would share my own true story of the time I had to fight a bear. No joke.
In January of 2008, I was homeless for the first time in my life. Up until December, I was engaged and living in a nice house owned by my fiancee’s father. It was a lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, with a pool, and in a gated community. The vaulted ceilings allowed for a nice, tall Christmas tree. The apartments we had rented for the first 6 years of our relationship were far too small for such decorations. We purchased a 7-footer and proudly placed it in the living room. A few strands of lights and a handful of ornaments were all we had to decorate the tree at first. We didn’t want to overcrowd the tree with a bunch of cheaply-made bulk ornaments, because this was merely our first Christmas as an engaged couple, after all. Every year, we would add a few new pieces and build ourselves a tradition. Each ornament a memory of a year gone by. As we chose the perfect placement for our precious few ornaments, she began to confess an indiscretion. A peccadillo. Okay, so it was more like she was having a full-blown affair with her boss. I tried to swallow my pride and work it out. After two weeks of sleeping alone on the couch, I moved into a nearby hotel room. Two more weeks went by and I never received a call or text from her. It was over, and I was the last person to notice.

My employees noticed. They noticed that I didn’t joke around anymore. They noticed that I had huge bags under my bloodshot red eyes every morning. A coworker told me about a house he owned, which he had purchased several years before, but which was now entering foreclosure-- basically, until the bank claimed it in a few months, it would just be sitting empty. I didn't ask any qualifying questions at all, choosing instead to jump at the opportunity to have a real place to stay, even if only for a while. This house, as it turned out, was on a dirt road nearby a small farm out in the middle of a marshy hell called Big Cypress Swamp. As I drove out there for the first time, following my friend's pick-up truck, I realized this was not going to be the greatest arrangement. It was a half hour away from the nearest civilization (a gas station which, as it turned out, was a big redneck hang out) and was pushed so far back through winding dirt roads and dense wooded areas that I pondered if there really was a house at all, or if he was merely taking me out here to cut off my genitalia and make a stew of it. As the opening strains of "Dueling Banjos" slowly rose in volume in my mind, we arrived at a house that looked like it would be the basis for a reality show featuring Larry the Cable Guy and Joe Dirt.
I was not the first to be disappointed upon seeing this place, not by a long shot. Back in the 60's, when the swamp was first developed into a residential area, spurious salespeople sold thousands of lots over the phone to out-of-state buyers who had no idea that every summer, despite nearly 200 miles of recently dug drainage canals, they would need boats to reach their land due to the extreme rainfall and high water table in the area. Over 40 years later, though the introduction of the raised dirt road is slightly better than arriving via boat, the land as a whole is definitely still best described as “marshy”. The farmers, who are my only neighbor, seemed to only raise chickens, because the uninhabitable cypress swamp is too flooded to grow anything else of value. Although, according to some locals, the intense humidity in this area does make the chore of hydroponically-grown marijuana considerably easier. The one rooster and his many hens were typically pretty noisy at night (party animals beyond any doubt). Looney Tunes taught me that roosters were meant to crow at daybreak, but this particular one seemed to be a little soft in the head and opted just to crow every half-hour or so, day or night. This noise had a tendency to attract several forms of predatory wildlife. One particularly notable predator was a bear, who was not a huge monstrosity like you'd see in a movie like The Great Outdoors, but still almost as tall as that damned Christmas tree when standing on its hind legs and after all, it is a bear, so they’re always pretty intimidating.

The house itself was completely stripped, as my friend had moved out nearly a year earlier. There was no bed, no stovetop, no fridge, nothing resembling an appliance. The sole piece of furniture was an old couch that wasn’t worth the trouble to throw away. Now, due to the events which led me to this living arrangement, I was doing a fair amount of drinking at the time. I would come home some nights at about 2 or 3 in the morning, very drunk, and in no state to drive (not that it stopped me). On more than one occasion, I exited my vehicle and saw the bear attempting to get through the neighbor’s fence to access the chicken coops. Many times, I'm told, he succeeded and slaughtered many of their roost. On one particularly bad night, when I came home completely smashed, and not particularly caring about my physical well-being, the bear was directly in front of my car, blocking the way to the front door. I'm sure he or she wasn't meaning to block my way, but rather that I had come home at the wrong time while the bear was attempting to break into my garbage can. I flashed my lights. It ignored me. I honked my horn. It didn’t care. So, being very tired and wanting nothing more than to enter the house and sleep on that nice hard sofa... I decided to get out of the car and face off with the bear, rather than wait for it to leave on it's own. You see, I had to be up for work in three hours, so time was of the essence.
Since I had noticed the bear many times before, I had mentally prepared myself for this type of stand off and had also physically prepared, to some extent, by outfitting my car with a flash light and a baseball bat. I'm not sure if I had really walked myself through the concept of chasing away a bear with a flashlight and a bat prior to it occurring, but I felt safer for having them. I reached in the back seat and grabbed the world's tiniest flashlight and the world's biggest Louisville Slugger, and I exited the vehicle. I turned on the flashlight and shined it at the animal, to which the bear responded by standing on his or her hind legs and making some sort of guttural noise that I guess was like a growl-- though it may have been its stomach growling more than its throat. I casually staggered around the car to face the beast. When I was only about ten feet away, it went down on all fours and started walking towards me. A thousand thoughts went through my mind, most of them about how people REALLY shouldn't feed wild animals, because this is not normal bear behavior. Other thoughts included the idea that I wasn't wearing any underwear, and just how disappointed my mom would be if they found my body without a nice fresh clean pair of underwear on. I'd like to think that she would have understood, seeing as how there was no washer or dryer in the place and I had to clean my clothes in the sink, so some sacrifices had to be made. In any case, the bear was tentatively making its way over to me.

I shined the flashlight into its face and yelled (slurred, more likely) some macho crap at it, hoping it would flee in terror because of how tough I was acting. I'm considerably less intimidating than your average bear, so it didn't work and the beast just kept coming towards me. Also, I don't think the bear understood what I said. (I said- here's what I says- I says to the bear, no wait-I'mgunnatellya, I sez to the bear, I says "You want a piece of me? Do ya?" To which the bear replied, "Grrrr." So I sez back to it, "You little punk ass bitch, if you want a piece of me, you'll have to squeeze it from the wet spot of your momma's panties!" Unbeknownst to the bear, due to an enormous language barrier, that meant he totally got served, bro.) At this point, the bear did start looking a little fed up with not being fed a midnight snack, so I slowly began to back up. Knowing that bears have a tendency to charge straight ahead, I started walking sideways to keep out of the path of it's teeth and paws. I was thinking of every Bruce Lee movie I've ever seen and attempted to circle the animal as Bruce would, to keep him off-balance. I was also thinking of how cool it would be to start crip-walking right then. That bear would assuredly be frightened if he thought I was a crip. Alas, I am but a scrawny white boy from the suburbs, with no gang affiliation nor rhythmic dance for expressing myself, so I must defend my person with all the wit and guile that a private school education affords: absolutely NONE.
Circling the furry bastard seemed to be working and I had a pretty good chance at making a run for the door, but I wasn’t about to turn my back to this creature for even a second. Frustrated with my insolence, the bear stood on it's hind legs again and tried to turn towards my body as it crashed to the ground. It appeared that the bear's front legs were on a collision course with my knees, so I did a John Woo slow-motion dive (awkwardly, not at all like Chow Yun-Fat) and scurried a few feet back on my butt before returning to my feet. It didn't occur to me then, but being drunk probably altered my depth perception, and instead of narrowly escaping the jaws of death, I was probably a good three or four yards away from the not-so-massive beast. However, I was still alive, though my kung fu stumble caused me to land even farther away from the door than when I started. Annoyed, I threw down the flashlight, furrowed my brow in an intense death stair, and took the bat in both hands. I extended it towards the bear, using it as a pole to keep him at a little greater than arms length. I kept circling the beast in a widening ellipse to hopefully get my back to the door before any contact had to be made between the bear and I. After a few revolutions, my strategy appeared to be paying off and I was only a foot or two from the door.

The bat was feeling heavy in my outstretched arm, but I knew I was close. The bear was now several feet in front of me, and the door was only about two feet behind me. It was now or never. So, I reached in my pocket and took out the key in preparation for my departure. The bat lowered slightly, and this momentary distraction was all the creature needed. Suddenly, the bear came at me and one of its paws raised up as it approached-- instinctively, I took the bat down towards my waist and swung up and out as hard as I could. I cracked the bastard directly in the face. Right as the bat made contact, I thoroughly disgraced my little league coach by not following through on the swing and instead dropped the bat and ran like a panicked little girl towards the door. The bear thankfully wasn’t serious and ran in the other direction, allowing me to successfully make it indoors. After this, I just couldn't bear the thought of living there anymore, and I moved out a week later. This... had nothing to do with The Revenant. Whatever, Leo shouldn’t win the damn Oscar! Give it to Tom Hardy, he was the one that moved along the storyline.
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1 comment
Average Vote: 110.0/5


ranger
2016-01-31 09:48:45
Dont hit bears... its rude
 
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