Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Posted by Zek J. Evets at 12:01 AM
After my early years, the possibilities of impending death were rather quiet for a while.
Sure, shit happened, but it didn't go down like Niagara Falls. Mostly life was just a series of accidents and school years. Until my mother got it into her head that I needed to make more friends -- as opposed to having no friends, which was working out okay so far -- and so she enrolled me in Boy Scouts.
This was to be a monumentally Bad Idea.
It all happened during one summer camping trip near Kern Lake, California...
The weather was terrible -- rainy, muddy, and our camp-site was at the tippity-top of the foothills near the mountains. We had to trudge through over a mile of shoe-sucking mud-gunk that would steal the socks off your feet after it was done with your hiking boots. Poorly constructed slabs covered some of the worst of it, but not even Smedley Butler could have possibly prevented the clusterfuck that were the campgrounds.
My tent was near the back portion of our campsite, close to the trees. Standing near me while we dropped our gear was a fat, googly-eyed kid named JW. He was also a virulent anti-Semite. Ever since I had joined the troop, he had made it his Life-Mission to piss the everloving crap out of me, one turd at a time.
So imagine, if you can, my ill-temper when the Scoutmaster had finished reading the bunk assignments and JW was paired with me. Yeah, I threw a hissy-fit.
The tent itself was small, and rickety. It stood on a small slab of wood, and inside were two cots for us to sleep in. Separated by barely a foot of space between, I didn't relish the thought of smelling JW's fatass farts for the rest of the summer. But here I was, and so I just grunted and bore it, like that Jesus dude everyone was always talking about in Scouts. (It's a pretty Christian organization. My Mom had to actually say we weren't religious for me to get in.)
The days passed in relative torment. I took up whittling, building fires, learning to use a shotgun, rifle, bow & arrow, throwing axes, knives, and even hunted a bit. I felt like a regular redneck, taking my frustrations with Life out on the wild. Since I was here, I also spent my time working towards making First Class Scout, fulfilling merits and badges and all sorts of silly requirements -- like swimming in a freezing lake even though I couldn't swim, or cooking sausage-links even though the swine makes me vomit.
But it was one day near the middle-end of the summer when my NDE #3 happened.
We were coming back from a 6-mile hike to identify various plants and stuff to help guide us when blazing a trail. My flat-feet and little legs were exhausted. I could hardly stand, and as we reached the campsite (minus one of my socks that was eaten by the mud when it tried to take my boot) I dropped my gear outside and collapsed into the cot. I remember hearing JW do the same.
Hours later, I heard this weird sound near the front tent-flaps. It was frantic and scratching. Thinking it was JW trying to bother me again, I moaned, "Stop it dude!" The sound kept going, and eventually I couldn't tune it out anymore, so I rolled over to look, and what do I see in the pale moonlight?
The head of a ginormous Grizzly Bear.
It was digging around the bottom of JW's cot, and obviously hadn't seen me -- or it would be tearing my face off.
Naturally I did what any other rational person would be doing in this situation: I started praying. I prayed to God, to Jesus, to Buddha, to Mohamed, to Krishna and Zoroaster. I hunkered down in my cot and pretended I didn't exist, hoping the bear would agree with my existential life-preserver.
However, there was a flaw in my monumentally brilliant plan -- JW. The anti-Semitic mofo wouldn't be able to sleep through this much longer, and when he woke up... Well, I didn't give a flying monkey-butt if the bear accidentally ate him, but I wanted to live! And unfortunately, I knew that if JW woke unprepared, he'd scream like a little bitch and I'd die with the sound of his voice in my head. This horrible fate propelled my balls to drop and figure out what to do.
I peered over the edge of my cot. The bear was now head, shoulders, and paws deep in the bottom of JW's corner of the tent. The noise and shaking began to take effect as I saw him start to stir. "Quit it man," he mumbled.
As he looked up towards me I, ever so slowly, made the most serious Shhh-face ever. But when JW looked down and saw a fucking Grizzly Bear, I could tell he was about to lose his shit.
So I did something really stupid, and quietly snapped my arm across the space between our cots, barely a foot over the bear's head and clamped my hand down on JW's face with a kung-fu grip! And we stayed just like that, motionless except for the bear as it continued to be mercifully oblivious to my arm above it, or the fact that JW's face was turning blue because I wasn't even letting him breathe.
Finally, after what seemed an enormously long time, the bear started extricating itself from the tent, and as its paw caught the moonlight, I saw a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos Tortilla Chips clutched in its gleaming claws.
Once I was sure the bear had gone, I jumped out of my tent and began cursing like a sailor on leave. "FUCKING SHIT YOU SONOFABITCH JW YOU GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING FATASS HITLER PIECE OF SHIT I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU..."
Of course this woke up everyone in a ten mile radius.
Everybody popped out of their tents and looked towards me running around like a high-strung dreidel-top. The Scoutmaster leaped from his tent and grabbed me by the shoulders to try and calm me down.
Once I'd finished my rant and taken a few deep breaths he asked me what happened. So I told him.
After hearing the story, and answering the inevitable questions to confirm, all the scouts in our troops just started laughing. I mean they went hysterical. Some of them rolled on the ground, some leaned on their tents for support. Others just lifted their head back and howled until their lungs emptied and only strange silence twisted their faces as they continued laughing.
JW, meanwhile, fled back into the tent.
The rest of the summer I camped on the floor of two other guys' tent, because nobody would switch with me to bunk with JW. No one wanted to be a bear's late-night snack. Officially, he was reprimanded -- unofficially, he was shunned.
After that, I begged my Mom to take me out of Scouts, and thankfully she did. However, I never told her this story. Mostly because if you knew my Mom, you'd see that's like telling an itchy-trigger finger there's a target over there. It would've ended in unnecessary bloodshed -- that of the Scoutmaster and JW.
Moral of the story?
NEVER LEAVE FOOD IN YOUR FUCKING TENT! PUT IT IN THE BEAR-BAG THAT HANGS FROM A TREE.