PLEASE BEAR WITH ME

Bear

You can now rent “The Revenant” and so, in the near future. we’ll make the commitment and plow through that Oscar-winning movie.

My wife, Victoria, and I try to get out and see as many of the Oscar-nominated films before the big night each year, but that one kept getting bumped to the bottom of the list. The next thing we knew, we were just out of time. So we promised ourselves, “We’ll rent it when it comes out on DVD.”
When you wait that long to see a much talked-about movie, you hear things, you read things. SPOILER ALERT—I’m about to talk about what I heard that supposedly happens in the movie. Not necessarily things that do happen, but the rumored plot lines that seeped my way.
When you’re trying to psych yourself up to see a highly-awarded movie, the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio was raped by a bear, or had to hollow out the guts of a horse to spend a night there (imagine how the horse felt) just made it a little harder to push that button at the Redbox kiosk.
At this point, we still haven’t seen the movie. I know it’s out there. We will rent it eventually. But until that time, when I think of The Revenant, I think of the bear, which takes me back to a week-long vacation when I was five-years-old.

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb called Torrance, nestled in what they call the South Bay area.  When I was but 5-years-old, my Aunt Colleen, Uncle Chuck and cousin Charlie invited me to come along with them one week to their cabin in the mountains.  The place where it was located? Big Bear Lake.
I have spotty memories of that week, but here are the few things I remember:

  • The cabin they owned was in the mountains a good couple of hours away in a pine-scented neighborhood dotted with other vacation homes. It made you feel like you were a million miles from Torrance.
  • On our way to a fishing trip out on a rented boat, my Uncle Chuck gave Charlie and I some money to buy  drinks at a store for us to enjoy out on the rowboat. I picked out a chocolate milk soda for him because I thought he would like it.  He didn’t.
  • While out on the boat, I honestly don’t remember catching any fish, but I do remember being really hungry.  I decided to try a salmon egg (remember, I was 5) and I ended up eating most of the jar.  My uncle thought it was hilarious.
  • My cousin Charlie and I liked to wander around the woods above the cabin.  At one point, the two of us Einsteins thought it would be a good idea to go deep into the forest and build a fire.  But we weren’t going to take any chances.  We would build it inside a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.  Uh-huh. Fire department came, had to put out a mini-forest fire and, thankfully, we didn’t go to prison.
  • At one point of my first vacation away from mom & dad, my aunt & uncle tried to wear us down by taking us to the local community swimming pool.  There were signs everywhere saying, “Don’t run on the cement.”  A lifeguard yelled at me, “Hey, you—don’t run on the cement.” You know what happened next–I ran on the cement, slipped and went sliding on my side, scraping my left check pretty badly.

I was pretty low key after that—hurt and embarrassed. To make matters worse, a huge scab formed on that cheek. Upon arriving home, my parents were informed I had slipped at the pool and scraped my face. That was pretty much a non-event.  But what would I say to the neighborhood kids?  I can’t tell you how the mind of a 5-year-old works, but my brain decided to tell Glen, Karen, Kelly, and both Mikes that I was attacked by a bear. After all, we were up at Big Bear Lake.  It must have been by a big bear, right?

Did they believe me?  Maybe for a while. Maybe not. I know I tried to sell it.

Doing the math, that incident probably took place during the summer of 1960. Over the years, the scar has faded away and the story went to the back of my brain until The Revenant reminded me of my own personal bear attack.

So I guess Leo and I do actually have something in common—a bear attack that didn’t really happen.  Only he’s the one that gets the Oscar. Yep, kid actors don’t stand a chance.

Tim Hunter

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