The Bear Union

When 50 is Not Greater Than 2

The other morning, the fellas seemed a bit more reluctant than usual to arise with the alarm.

When we turned on the News, C.Bear was still bagging it. We asked why. C.Bear mumbled, “It’s not in the contract.”

Of course, we had to inquire just which contract this might be. The reply was, “the Bear Union contract, of course.”

Bear Union? Well, that was a new one on us, ripe with all of the possiiblities of Bear Management, arbitration, or even (shudder) Bear strikes … so we had to play with that one a little bit.

“Well, what would be the rules of this Union? For example, sleeping in on Friday mornings sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. How would one qualify to get into such a union?”

Somebody volunteered that, for one thing, you couldn’t be “over 2”.

“Over 2 … years?”, we gasped.

Well, um, yes, “2”.

“So”, we asked, how would this work? We bring home all the Bear kibble, and we bring home new brothers and sisters for Valentines, and Christmas, and just because days. Does this mean that People couldn’t belong to the Bear Union?

Silence. We certainly must know how to ask all the tough questions. Someone finally answered, “Well, um, no, People could belong to the Bear Union, if they wanted to.” And you could see the Bears were feeling unfairly pinned to the mat, and were getting a bit nervous about where all this was headed.

“OK, I think I see. Now, C.Bear’s going on 14 years old. And what about us, again? What if we’re over 50?”

“Oh, no, that’s different. 50 isn’t bigger than 2.”

And you could see them visibly relax. All was explained. Some kind of Bear crisis was passing. Now, to figure out what it was?

“Show them, A. Bear!”, the fellas called out.

A.Bear assumed his most professorial manner, and drew our attention to his little Bear chalkboard, where evidently he gives his Bear lessons when we’re away at work. And he proceeded to draw a big “2” on the chalkboard.

Next, in much smaller letters, he wrote out the numbers “50”.

Two can be bigger than fifty“, A.Bear announced solemnly. I was pretty sure he winked at us.

“Yaaaay!”, yelled all the Bears, and the crisis was past. We guessed this meant we’d been accepted into their Bear Union.

Unfortunately, we still had to go to work, remaining unconvinced that full membership in a Bear Union actually qualified us to sleep in on Friday morning!

 The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. — Edward Gibbon

© Alex Forbes, January 29, 1999

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