Decoding Cuddly Woodland Killers.

How to avoid being white poop.

I came across this compelling article that really got me thinking about my earlier life. I don’t think people give our four-legged counterparts the respect they deserve. For your own sake, it’s important not to assume animals are stupid. Case in point, disregard ‘expert’ suggestion that you engage in pantomime activities that give an approaching bear the illusion that you’re taller. I’d suggest to just avoid taking ‘adventurous’ walks in parks that are documented to harbor bears in the first place. Also, refrain from leaving food outside for the neighborhood bear cub because he’s cute. As a general rule of thumb, limit all your carnivorous animal interactions to your smartphone.. and maybe the zoo. I’ve seen a bear roust hiding deer by indiscriminately running across that vicinity. I’ve also seen a family of bears brainstorm and decide who’s the lightest and most limber to go fetch a beehive atop a flimsy tree. These, ladies and gentlemen are not idiots.

Growing up in rural Kenya had a lot of hazards. Most of these were un-OSHA related and could easily be avoided by getting home before sundown, declining offers to join cults with an anti government philosophy and not playing around wells.

In precolonial Africa, there was a litany of short stories passed down generations around makeshift stove fires by communal grandmothers on a rotating basis. When the British dropped by in the mid 50’s, the folklore started getting printed and you could read it at your own leisure such as when everyone else had gone to church. Gradually, people moved to the cities in search of jobs and the accompanying bills that had evaded them years past. This tradition is on the most part, very dead. Luckily, reminiscent adults of the traditional era can now direct Alexa to purchase an E-book with all the short stories arranged by ‘most popular’ or by ‘relevance’. Sagely grandmas are no longer needed.

To be sure, most of the stories that were told were obviously mythical. Nevertheless, they had subliminal messages which when adhered to, greatly reduced mortality rates and improved the recipients’ morals in the long-run.

Not all the oral literature was in short story format. Aphorisms existed as well. There was a popular habit of kids folding their bottom lip inwards and using their tongues to induce a repetitive squashy sound. I don’t know how it came to be so hip. We were highly advised in disfavor of this as it was supposedly a means of summoning snakes. By ‘highly advised’, I mean you risked a severe beating were you caught doing it. Very much later in life when I was in my mid 20’s driving down I-93 a few miles south of Boston, a friend I had been talking to on the phone viciously burst my bubble about this. The squashy sound elicited does not call on scary slithery serpents after all. Rather, it mimics the sound of intercourse when both participants are highly motivated and non verbal . I felt silly. It took me too long to realize this obvious fact.

Curiously, there was an anecdotal survival skill involving grabbing the nearest stick and placing it on your head should you encounter a hyena. This eerily resembles the bear ‘height’ technique making me wonder about its about origin. Was it from London or the highlands around Mt. Kenya? It was insinuated that you could employ this tactic for most wild animals. Apparently, it’d make one appear taller intimidating a potential killer. I’m very glad I was brought up in a relatively predator-free neighborhood. Strangely, there wasn’t anyone around to attest of this particular technique’s efficacy. I’m left to wonder if this was because of some very bad advice that led to very gory ends. Unlike popular sentiment, hyenas are not nature’s cowardly, scavenger. They’re actually ferocious hunters and are the only ones in the animal kingdom that will take on lions. They chew through bone like you would butterscotch pudding. This overloads their system with calcium, predisposing them to have white excrement. I suspect the lucky runner did grow up in such a neighborhood and that he probably knew what happens when you engage meat eating animals in form-changing dialogue.

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