The Bears went Pillow Sliding today. Like skiing, tobogganing, or “rump-bumping” the rubber rafts down the Truckee, negotiating the curves and slopes of the Rumpled Bed-Pillow Pile-Up Classic is one of those art forms that even our most experienced stuffed bears hadn’t quite learned.
Bo Bear went first, though C. Bear said he cheated by starting at the bottom, where B. Bear was, in fact, already resting. Out Bear, with his squeaky little voice, said “whee!”, but it appeared O. Bear was really stuck on the edge of the last pillow, going nowhere fast. At mid-point was T. Bear, racing through Queen Size Hollow on his broad back, legs waving in the air. T. Bear always wears a particularly blissful smile, and today he looked particularly happy. A. Bear, our philosopher bear with his serious little beady Bear eyes, looked concerned. He’d already “wiped out”, and was sliding down the long series of Percale riffles on his elbow and side, just a little bit off-form for a proper pillow slalom.
C. Bear, our Complainer Bear, sat patiently at the top of the Percale Run, waiting for the other Bears to finish so he could go. Nothing seemed to be happening. But when one is a Stuffed Bear, one learns that time is of no great importance. So C. Bear sat there on the very top of the top pillow, hollering instructions, still poised for the best descent of all — if only the other Bears would move out of the way!
“A. Bear! Don’t slide on your elbow! You’ll tumble off the slope! Surely you don’t want to end up on the floor!”
“Bo Bear! Get out of the way! The other Bears are coming through! If you don’t hurry, I’ll NEVER get my turn!”
But it was no use. All the other Bears were having so much fun, none of them paid very much attention to C. Bear.
C. Bear, even on the best of days, always looks a little out of sorts. He was not born with a smile, but was given rather a downcast set to the mouth to match his wide “what-have-I-done-now?” eyes. One arm is noticeably larger than the other, probably due to a mild case of stuffing migration — or perhaps from wearing shirts which are too tight for his beam. Appearances can be deceiving, and C. Bear’s eyes do challenge everything that they see; these are eyes that are always on the “look-out”. C. Bear is the most adventurous of them all!
C. Bear is the one who took them all rafting in the Big Pool in Phoenix, the last time they stowed away in a flight bag to visit their cousins. C. Bear is the one who always gets to go to the airport to greet visitors. C. Bear is in charge of Neighborhood Watch on our block, and he is a very fine look-out. He is also in charge of counting spots on our textured ceiling, and every time the Bears get to “two”, he makes a little mark in his Bear record book. We think they are already up to two marks, which is more spots than any Bear can fathom.
But C. Bear is not very good at being in charge of the other Bears. Bears are a very independent breed, and are seldom very good at listening. When you are a Leader Bear, do not be surprised when nothing ever does go right. That is why Bears have learned to be so very patient.
So, when the People came into the bedroom, C. Bear was still sitting at the very top of the pillow slope. His gloomy “I-told-you-so” cast of mouth told the whole story. The Gods are not supposed to arrange the affairs of humans, excepting when divine intervention is absolutely necessary for the good of the realm. Just so, the People are not supposed to interfere in the affairs of Bears, except in the interest of amusement or immediate and compelling whim.
One of the People picked C. Bear up, yelled “whee!”, and C. Bear slid down the entire slope, right around all the other Bears, and all of this excitement in only a few seconds. This is faster than any Bear had ever managed before. You would have thought C. Bear would be ecstatic.
But a Bear can only put up with just so much excitement, because most of a Bear’s lifetime is actually quite sedentary, and Bears do have to live a very long time, in Bear years. So C. Bear just sat there, being a stuffed bear for a while, while the People remarked happily how much fun the Bears were having.
To tell you the truth, C. Bear was much relieved when it was all over. The pressures of being a Leader Bear, and performing on the slopes at the same time, is a task of great magnitude, when you can only count to two.
After “they” had left, C. Bear sat for a while. He reflected on the life of a Bear, and it seemed to him that today had been a very busy day indeed. Nobody was looking, so he smiled, a bit. Not a bad day, after all, for a bear who just sits around counting spots all day.
T. Bear sketch, 1987
© Alex Forbes, La Parola July 1994
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