Thursday, September 20, 2007

Did I Not Tell You All I Was Gonna See a Bear?

I told you I was going to see a bear and sure enough I did exactly that. I always see bears when I say I'm going to because I am a person of my word. Here's what happened...

On Saturday I had to go to a wedding in the place where I was, which I'll just go on ahead and tell you was on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, and the lake you see in the picture is indeed Lake Tahoe. It was the best place in the world that I can think of to go after Rosh Hashanah. It was quiet and chilly and there were beautiful big trees and squirrels the size of a loaf of Wonder Bread. Apparenly Florida squirrels are scrawny and raggedy because the Lake Tahoe squirrels were these large, fuzzy looking things with magnificently poofed tails.

Saturday morning, long before I needed to get ready for the wedding (story on that forthcoming as well) I decided to do a little relaxing and meditating on this here very lovely beach. I planned to sit in the warm sun, perhaps read, perhaps grade a few papers, or perhaps do nothing at all. When I got to the beach however, I found a young couple who were also wedding guests. The boy half of this couple really, really wanted a granola bar. The girl half of the couple wanted to make small talk with me. They were from LA and both wore gigantic sunglasses. They were lovely people in every way. Really, they were. I am just not good at making small talk in the slightest. I am, I confess, a horrible maker of small talk. I am an excellent maker of big talk.

I will do just about anything to avoid a dumb ass, bullshit conversation about nothing. My time and my talk are precious to me and I don't like to waste either of them going on about nonsense that neither party is going to care about or remember just because it's a social convention. Fuck social conventions, because seriously, does anyone really care where my husband went to college or what my dad does for a living or how many siblings I have?

Small talk is torture. I never know what questions to ask because I really don't care about the answers. I'd rather talk about something more interesting and just jump right in. I would even rather engage in a spirited debate with someone. At least there's some passion involved and people who challenge and question are usually people who are smart and exciting. They are who I want to befriend - not someone whose aunt went to USC or some such. I guess I just need more from people. Later that evening I went on to have a fascinating discussion about the spirituality of the Lakota people and how they viewed children as sacred and would not hit them. That was a good conversation!

I'll admit that the other reason why small talk makes me uncomfortable is because I think when I answer the questions honestly people are horrified and I come off as being one of those Too Much Information nutcases. In order to avoid this, because some of the answers to those conventional questions are just not appropriate in my case, I have to make shit up that sounds better and more respectable than my life actually has been. I don't enjoy doing that either. So please, if you ever meet me, please don't start asking me about colleges and jobs and family. You'll be sorry you did.

Saturday morning, while sitting on the beach, I was forced to make small talk and be on my best behavior. Acting like an asshole in this situation would have caused major problems and really there was no reason to be mean to these very nice and well mannered people just because I am not always a nice and well mannered person. I had to suck it up. I had to behave and I did, but it caused me significant amounts of discomfort. A little discomfort can be healthy though.

The girl making small talk somehow got on the subject of the Los Angeles housing market, subprime something or other and something about Brentwood and Craftsman cottages. I am stupid so I had no clue what she was talking about. Then she started asking me about the Miami housing market and all I could say was that houses here are too expensive and there are lots of vacant condos and unfinished highrises. She began to ask even more scary questions because she apparently assumed I was more intelligent than I am. This is where I started to drift off and nod enthusiastically while she talked without actually saying anything myself.

Inside my head looked something like this:

This place is really pretty. Wow I'm cold. I can't believe I'm cold. I'm wearing a sweater in September, how cool is that? Oh look some kind of bird I've never seen before. I like her shoes. What the hell is she talking about? Oh my God I have no clue how much the average condo in Miami costs. Let me make something up.

"They're around $500,000. Of course they're small and everything on the beach is vastly over-valued. Most of them are owned by foreign investors."

Phew. I hope that sounded smart. Now she's talking about LA. She's asking me where I like to eat when I go to LA. I can't remember.

"My dad took me to a Korean BBQ in City of Industry and it was one of the best meals of my life."

Oh she's back talking about the housing market again. Oh look, another bird. A blue jay with a black head. Our blue jays have light colored heads. Hmm. Oh crap is that a yellow-jacket? What if it bit me? Do they have a hospital around here? I hope I don't have to go to the bathroom at the wedding. Look at that clear water. I thought lakes were just brown. I've never seen a clear lake before. Jacques Cousteau went under it in a submarine and when he came up he said the world wasn't read for what he found. Well what does that mean?? How could he be so cryptic. Why hasn't anyone else gone down there to see what he was talking about. Someone told me there were dead people that the mafia killed and it's so cold that they're perfectly preserved and the minerals in the water keep them suspended a couple hundred feet down. Maybe that's what he meant. Maybe there's a Lake Monster. How cool would that be? I want there to be a Lake Monster. Oh good lord, this girl is still talking about real estate. I better nod and smile some more. Maybe I should say "Exactly" a few times. I have to find a polite way to extract myself from this conversation. Dear God, would you please let a Lake Monster or something come up out of the lake to distract us from this conversation so I can make my getaway? Please?


Indeed there was a bear running down the beach. Fast. We all flew up from where we were and the bear continued hauling some serious ass. It looked like it was late for something or was being chased. We looked to see if the bear was being chased. It was not. Perhaps it was exercising. Luckily I had my camera on hand so I was able to get it out and snap a picture of a small, brown blob in the sand. I assure you, it really was a bear, but not a really big bear. I think it may have been a teenager. In any case it was bigger and faster than me, so I didn't want to mess with it too much. Bears can run extremely fast. I don't want to ever be in a situation where a bear is running towards me. This bear running parallel to me was quite enough.

So there you go, a confirmed and documented bear sighting.


Amanda said...

Tahoe! This NorCal gal had been wondering. Bears? 4 hour drive? (I'd been assuming either Oakland or SFO.)

Well, hell. I'm one of those weird TMI people too. It's like there's some unspoken social cue that I never latched onto, and either I end up being too quiet for fear I'll say something dumb, or I'll decide to throw caution to the wind and say what comes into my head and the reply tends to be, "...Ah." And perhaps a nod. And then I want to die.

Oh, and quite frankly, I doubt I'd be sorry if I ever asked you about your jobs or family. Are you kidding? It's your stories about both that have kept me lurking around here.

secretmom said...

they are everywhere, yikes!

Subservient No More said...


Stupot said...

cute squirrel you snapped there, subbie.

misha said...

i just came back from an Alaskan cruise. the salmon were spawning so i was dying to see a bear. I did see 3 on my last day there but thank god they were not running towards me. i would have been horrified, although i have heard Alaskan bears are more gentle than most (like i really know my bears :) I had no fear b/c the bears were fishing about 100 ft below us as were were walking on a rope bridge during a zip line expedition. Your sighting is soooo much more exciting!!!

MP said...

We have bears in MO too. This summer there were stories about these bears that kept going into subdivisions. They are the little black bears...still bears though!
Tahoe is on my list of places I want to see.

Government Peon said...

Glad you had a good time! I can completely relate to what you were saying about small talk. I come across as socially awkward at times because I will make a noticable effort to avoid conversations with people about stuff I don't care about at all. The worst is when you are walking down a narrow hallway at work and are about to passby someone you know, but are not really friends with and both people feel obligated to mutter "How's it going?" to each other as they passby without even stopping. Actually the worst is when they do stop then you have to actually talk to them some more! Arg!

gulfsidebo said...

That reminds me of the Kotzwinkle book, The Bear Went Over the Mountain. Very fun read! So cool you saw a bear! We had a bear in our backyard in Virginia once that delayed our "going to work" departure. I got it all on video. He tore apart our bird feeder. He was BIG!

the only thing i think small talk has going for it is...sometimes it leads to bigger conversations, friendships, marriages, kids, bands, and some other amazingly unexpected scenarios.

Aarwenn said...

My God, I love Tahoe. It's so relaxed and old-fashioned and gorgeous. I feel like nothing has changed since the Olympics were there thirty years ago, and that's what's wonderful about it.

I'm mainly familiar with the CA side, though--not the NV side. Sounds great.

First Nations said...

who does this happen to? you, that's who. bears spring up out of the sand as though scattered by Cadmus and rescue you from inane chatter.

may i touch the hem of your garment?

Sparkling Cipher said...

I try not to ask the personal questions. People probably think I'm stuck-up for it, but I'm not really interested in the number of siblings or where they went to school. I really like the TMI stuff much more or to discussion opinions on various topics. The only problem is that I'm too socially awkward to make my way around to those subjects, so I just do the same as what Amanda said, either be too quiet or provide my own TMI.

That's so cool that you saw a bear! Who was the Wide Lawns resident who was afraid of his cabin in the woods? I bet he would have died of a heart attack right then and there.

Chiada said...

When I got to the end of your story, I thought, "where's the picture of the bear?!" I had to do a double-take on the picture at the top to see the bear. I thought it was just a nice shot of the lakeshore at first.

My second guess, after Yosemite, was Tahoe. I've never been there. I'd love to see that clear blue lake someday, though.

Typical L.A. - "huge sunglasses" (I hate huge sunglasses to the nth degree). That made me laugh. Oh, and all the talk about real estate. It's like, shut up already! (Not you, but what you might have been thinking about the small talk.)

Morrigoon said...

Hahah, love the way you set up the bear moment there!

Sorry you were subjected to talk about real estate, but for those of us in SoCal it's kinda the foremost thought on most people's minds. So few people can afford to buy a home at all in this area that it's become something of a local obsession. Something like one out of every 20 adults in CA hold a real estate license... or something outrageous like that. Might be one out of 50, but whatever it is, it's ludicrous.

Architect Critic said...

Apparently I was wrong. Trinity County has been having problems with bears getting into people's stuff and breaking things. It's about four hours North of Sacramento, depending on how you drive. Tahoe is spectacular as well. Used to drive up there just to go to lunch at one of the casinos.

And of course the famous Rubicon Trail is there on the West side of the lake - some of the best, most scenic four-wheeling/hiking/etc. in the country.

Jean the Janitor said...

There's been so many acres burned up there, food is scare for the widdle bears.... so they're heading in the homes in search of food.

KPIX just did a story a few weeks ago about a bear cub breaking into a house -- they darted him and he was SO tiny for his age -- they're taking care of him for the time being and will release him back into the wild....

I feel for the critters

LaLa said...

To be honest, I'm just really glad that lone very hairy sunbather in your photo turned out to be a bear.

caroline said...

"We looked to see if the bear was being chased. It was not. Perhaps it was exercising. "

HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, I love you.

Brandy said...

Remember, you only have to run faster than one other person in your party, not faster than the bear!

Small talk. Pfft. Inane rumblings to sound out if you MIGHT like this person enough to talk to them more.

That's why nerds go to conventions. We KNOW that anyone we see will have SOME clue about whatever subject we just leap onto, and will "debate" vigorously with us! Yay, nerds!

About Me

Blog Archive