A man walks into a bear cage. Yeah I know its sounds like a joke and it pretty much was. After all, what match was I for an 8 plus foot tall brown bear that not only weighed in excess of 600 lbs, but had been taught 15 wrestling moves. Answer was ,,,,,Not Much.
Now I am 6'4"-5" and at the time approx. 245 lbs, not exactly a midget and probably in the best shape of my life. In high school I once was given a plaque for bench pressing 350 pounds, and with a stupidity reserved for the young, I would, using my legs pick up small cars from time to time. I thought I was bulletproof. That was before I looked down the barrel of a drunken, agitated giant in a smelly brown coat.
With tears of laughter still running down his dirt stained face from the previous challenger's escapade.The carny opened the door for my date with destiny and as the gate closed I noticed that my dignity along with any hope of winning decided to stay outside and watch. They were smart.
Entering the animals domain I watched as my opponent finished the last of the six pack of beer he'd been given as prize for utterly destroying the previous gentleman, who God only knows why had drifted into his own private hell that night. Now looking for another brew he wondered the edges of the cage occasionally kicking bottles out of the way. The trainer assuming I was going to be some kind of threat to collect his $20,000. bounty I guess, began to agitate the creature. Using his collar he raised the animal onto his hind legs and with a shove pushed the bear into me.( To give you an idea of what it's like, imagine a fully loaded 8' bookshelf covered in the nastiest old shag carpeting available falling on you.) As we fell I rolled away in fear, not wanting a repeat of what happened to the contestant before me. Thinking I was free I stood up, but the bear using his paw hooked a leg and sent me face first to the mat, once again I got up, this time more careful of my partner in crime.
For two years I had talked about trying to do something no one thought possible, I was going to pick the bear up and as I pulled myself from the slimy mat I saw my chance. Mr. Bear assuming he was done or maybe just hoping that it was cocktail hour so he could continue his bender, slowly walked away in search of another Miller. Quickly I moved in behind him and YES bear hugged the bear. Fingers barely touching and my face buried in his flea infested fur it was now or never. Moving my feet forward for more leverage and arching my back I lifted with everything I had. To my surprise and and that of the crowd it worked and for 4 or 5 seconds Yogi hung in mid air. I stumbled forward a few steps before slowly lowering my four legged friend back to earth. Filled with pride I released him from my grip, but as we all know, pride com-meth before a fall and mine was to be epic.
Something I never considered was the position that I had assumed while doing my work, I was later told this is the same position bears take to mate. In a moment the male monster let me know that he wasn't anybodies bitch. With an island size paw
he hooked the back of my head and flipped me over his back. I flew upside down 5 to 6 feet through the air before being stopped by the chicken wire barrier, before crashing to the ground, leaving a body sized imprint in the cage. Before I could move my foe was upon me and with the effort it takes to shoo a fly he first scooped me in his (no pun) bear arms before once again flipping me over his back. Charging forward we butted heads, cold bear slobber covering my face, the smell of bear breath and alcohol everywhere. Reaching my feet I was once again found myself in his grasp, a toy at his disposal. With a quick twist we rolled over and over across his living room floor his weight crushing the wind out of me with every turn. My mind raced in survival mode I tried with all I had left to break free as the world spun over and over. Just as I was about to give up the hand of God in the form of his trainer intervened and meekly I staggered out, bear hair covering me from head to toe. As a last act of dominance Smokey using both hands picked up an empty beer bottle and after finding no refreshments there, threw it at me. Hitting me in the forehead and leaving a scar that I still carry today. Branding me for life as one of his cows.
I think back on that night from time to time and wonder what happened to not so gentle Ben, and I bare(pun intended this time) him no ill will and I hope he feels the same for me. Maybe I'll drop him a line, send him an e-mail and see if he'd like a re-match ,,,,,on second thought I'll let him slide,, he's probably too old and I wouldn't want to hurt him. Maybe we'll just go out and have a beer,,,,,:)