Bear With Me|
Hello, fellow man-children! Greetings and blessings to all! I know it's been a while since we last shared in circle; I had the opportunity to spend some time in the care of the state. Who knew trying to drive my Caterpillar 777F Off-Highway Truck through the Vista Ridge Tunnel to go see Wall-E at Cedar Hills would run me afoul of the law? Anyway, lessons learned, and my long silence is ended. Let me tell you what brought this bear out of hibernation and dragged him yawning back into the daylight.
Usually my television viewing time is equally divided between watching sweaty grunts ground-n-pound it in the UFC ring and trying to catch some hot deals on Susan Lucci faux leather handbags and accessories on QVC, with maybe a minute or two thrown in for baby harbour seals frolicking on ice floes under Oprah's soothing narration on Discovery. But one night last month, after a few too many Keystone Lights, I misdialed my remote and landed on public access, smack dab in the middle of the gosh-darned cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on. Yes, I speak of the Gresham Teddy Bear Parade. The 27th Annual, more specifically. Row after filing row of mothers pushing strollers stuffed with roly-poly young ones, elderly services buses, lawn tractors, antique roadsters, miniature ponies, Miss Tall International, and even a garbage truck, all with mounds of teddy bears of every size and style strapped tastefully to any open surface with duct tape and, well, unconditional love. What I saw melted my heart and piqued my curiousity. In addition to oozing unpretentious community spirit, the parade was grand marshalled by a couple of local newsfolk who loudly and repeatedly exclaimed things like, "Isn't this just sweet!" or "This is what a community should be like" and, most attention-grabbing to yours truly, "And ANYONE can participate! They don't turn ANYONE away!".
Hmm, I thought, and jumped into looking up more about this event. What I had seen was last year's parade. This year, the 28th Annual (they've been doing this thing since nineteen eighty-frickin'-two, y'all), was set to happen in a couple of weeks. There was still time to apply to march in the parade! Other reviews/articles I read all enthusiastically restated what the parade commentators had said; that everyone was welcome and they refused nobody! Unconditional and unjudging, just what the doctor ordered. Besides, I had picked up a hobby from a guy I knew in the joint that would be perfect to put on display by marching in the parade. I filled out the forms tout de suite and mailed 'em off with my $20 registration fee.
My giddy anticipation was popped like a balloon the day I got the rejection letter, my returned $20 check fluttering to the ground as I tore it open. The old me would have grabbed an axe handle and gone to take care of bidness, but I changed while I was on the inside. Civil words would be my weapons, public discourse my battleground.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ENTIRE CITY OF GRESHAM
Dear Sub-human pig people,
The men who founded this country believed in many things, principal among them the notion that one's word is one's honor. This seems to have been forgotten altogether in Gresham.
Lured by the seemingly sincere pronouncement that any and all, regardless of color, creed or caste, would be welcomed to join hands with fellow community members in a show of overwhelmingly cute civil spirit in "Historic Downtown Gresham" known as the 28th Annual Gresham Teddy Bear Parade, I decided to join the ranks and march proudly shoulder to shoulder with my fellow citizens. I obtained and thoroughly read the proper forms. I am exhaustingly familiar with the rules. Despite this, you have chosen to bar me from participating in the parade.
Your stated reason? Simply because I wish to march (IN bear-themed costumes, per the rules) with five live black bears. You say that large carnivores are inappropriate and dangerous to have in or near a large open-air family-oriented event such as the Teddy Bear Parade. Your ignorance is obvious; these are omnivores, and have been thoroughly trained (first by the traveling Serbian circus from which I purchased them for a carton of cigarettes and some lottery scratch-it cards, and then by myself for the last several months in an immersive obedience regimen endorsed by the AKC). The parade rule regarding animals marching states they are allowed, "...provided they are under the full control of their masters at all times." I submit to you that, without my say-so, these bears would not jump in a lake if their fur was on fire, much less wreak havoc in a church parking lot.
Your rejection of me and my bears exposes your first lie, that all are welcome to join this event. I hope you are satisfied with yourselves. You have crushed the spirit of an eager and willing community member and robbed fresh faced kids of the opportunity to witness the awesomeness of live black bears riding Big Wheels to the music of Gloria Estafan through your crappy downtown streets.