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Dancing Bear

Letter from Slim Wolfe

Wildlife – January 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine


We’ve got problem bears roaming the high country, and now there’s a problem teddy-bear named Mohammed who caused a major problem for a schoolteacher in Khartoum, but let’s remember the fable of the dancing bear:

Once there was an illegitimate king (but really, when was there ever a legitimate king?) whose domain was in a downward trend, so his cagey ministers suggested a trick to win the flagging respect of his subjects. “We must catch a bear and teach it to waltz,” they said, “and the people will think us wondrously clever and so they will pledge allegiance with vigor.”

So the king sent his minions to catch a bear, who mistook them for onions and was seen chained front and back, but it struggled and fought until it was nearly torn asunder, while the minions took all the plunder, so the king sent more and more minions and a host of private contractors who wrestled with the beast for several years until most were bruised and broken, but finally the bear was worn down into submission. As it staggered like a drunk into a far corner, the minister summoned the people, shouting, “See, the bear is waltzing, now, know ye how great your king is to have wrought such a thing.”

And the people, who didn’t have much memory or sense but now had enough bear grease to grease their boots all winter, forgot the sorry state of affairs in the kingdom and forgot to cry over the chopped-up minions. They even forgot that bears are better suited to the do-si-do or the Schottische than the waltz, which was well known to the lascivious and plebeian. The moral of this fable is, if you lose your memory you might just as well bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your bear goodbye. All the more so if your king is called George and your bugbear is called Baghdad.

Wishing you alternative service in the New Year and always, and hoping your problems are no bigger than a white rabbit, which is sometimes problem enough….

Slim Wolfe

Villa Grove