There is only one rule: There are no rules. Except one: have fun. And the first rule…the one about there being only one rule, which I guess makes two. So there are two rules: there are no rules and under all circumstances have fun. Also no shoving, but I think that’s implied by the second rule. I feel like I should mention it, though, because to be perfectly honest, we’ve had a real shoving problem around here lately. That’s probably my fault because a lot of people tune out completely after they hear the first rule. And because I do a lot of shoving. So there are three rules, and the third rule is there are no rules.
I am writing in response to the Three Forks Gazette’s coverage of the recent tragedies in our little town. I personally believe that these terrible events are the result of our failure to address a problem that has been festering for far too long. The only solution is for us, as a town, to take a good, hard look at this issue from both sides.
What are we, as humans, doing to provoke the bears?
First, let me address Saturday’s incident. Right off the bat, I would like to say I am not a spoil-sport and I like a celebration as much as the next guy. I would never say our fair town should outlaw birthday parties. Especially children’s birthday parties.
But the piñatas are clearly a bad idea.
It may seem like a harmless birthday tradition, but let’s take a look at what really happens. A group of children mercilessly beat a papier-mâché animal until it’s insides burst. Its “blood” rains down on them in a shower of sugary treats. Due to the political climate in Three Forks as of late, this animal effigy is almost certainly a bear. And now it’s been ritualistically savaged as the intermingling smells of chocolate and children waft into the woods. The bears, clearly, are noticing this. In fact, if there is one thing that recent events should make quite obvious, it’s that the bears are always watching. And that they are particularly drawn to candy.
My ideas are not radical. All I’m advocating is learning from our mistakes. Let’s make simple and easy changes that benefit us all. In that vein, I applaud the decision to move this year’s Three Forks Honey Festival away from it’s customary location at the mouth of Bear Cave. Yes, it was only named “Bear Cave” because settlers thought the opening looked like a bear, but the name probably stuck because it’s home to so many angry bears.
Let us not forget our fair town’s previous efforts to stop the bears. There was, of course, the Bear Reduction Plan of 1999, where the town council sterilized half the female population in order to bring the bear numbers under control. As we now know, this led to an environment of increased competition, where only the strongest, most aggressive bears were able to reproduce, fostering the new race of super-bears with which we currently contend.
Then there was the disastrous Bear Sedation Program of 2007. The brave men and women of the Three Forks Police Department did their best to monitor and tranquilize the most threatening bears migrating through Bear Valley. Just how much the bears enjoyed the drugs, however, was not apparent until the program’s funding ran out and we were all forced to contend with narcotics-addicted super-bears. Now there’s not a single family in Three Forks that doesn’t know the terror of a strung out, 1500 lb. grizzly breaking down their door searching for its next Ketamine fix.
Let’s not continue to repeat these failed initiatives. Instead, let us decide as a community that if we each do our part to make small substitutions in our lives, we can make Three Forks safer for everyone. To show that I am committed to the cause, I’ll take the first step. Next Thursday, as an alternative to the annual blindfolded three-legged race and log crawl in Bear Hollow, I will be hosting a day of respectful, vigilant, and easily-relocated activities on top of No Bear Hill. The winners of our silent, motionless games will receive drab-colored ribbons instead of being doused with the traditional bucket of celebratory barbecue sauce. And afterward, we will not take the customary dip in Trout Stream. I hope you and your readers will join me.
It is my dearest wish that the rest of Three Forks will follow my lead. I am sure we can all agree the issue has divided this wonderful community for far too long.
After all, if we can’t keep from tearing ourselves apart, then we can rest assured that the bears most certainly will.
NOTE: This letter was edited by Jeff Rukes.
The first thing I noticed was that my pee smelled like asparagus. The second thing I noticed was that it wasn’t just asparagus: my pee smelled like anything I ate or drank. The third thing I noticed was that I was smelling my pee an awful lot. I asked my neighbor, the former astronaut, what this said about me as a person and (typical) all he said was “How did you get into our house and why have you peed everywhere?!” In retrospect, this is a perfectly valid counter-question, but it’s not really an answer, is it, Tom?