I drove up next to a bear. I had been driving along, in my own little world, as the bright yellow afternoon sun was beginning to turn into a golden evening sun. I stopped at a red light with my windows down, and inadvertently locked eyes with the man in the truck next to me. It was one of those fortuitous moments when both heads turn at the same instant. There was bear-man.
He was in one of those tall, over-sized pickup trucks, because he wouldn’t have fit too comfortably in anything else. Nothing else would have suited his persona anyway. He had a thick, wily beard that looked something like black steel wool sticking out about four inches from the end of his chin. He had sharp, wild animal eyes that once having caught me, they held me captive. And then, the light turned green.
I think I was just inhaled. He inhaled my essence, and drove off with it, I thought. I drove onward, mulling it over in my essence-nakedness. I wondered what it would be like to be bear-man. I could feel my body growing there in the seat, transforming into him.
I would become the size of two of me, I thought, as my body elongated and thickened. The available space in my seat shrank while the steering wheel grew closer. And then the vehicle expanded, until I was driving around up high, like a giant of a man ought to. The wiry hairs of my steel wool beard jutted out of my formally smooth face. I tapped my newly thick and cumbersome fingers against the steering wheel and considered life.
Now that I am bear-man, what is the first thing I ought to do? Of course—drink beer!
When I am me, I don’t like beer. It always tastes to me like a beverage that was formally good, but then it got left sitting on the counter for a while, turned a bit off, and then someone mistakenly set it back in the fridge. But, this is bear-man we are talking about! Bear-man can drink several beers and not feel the effects, while regular 120-pound-no-alcohol-tolerance-me would be giggling incessantly while falling off a bar stool. So anyway, bear-man me would be drinking beer and getting foam in his beard and—
Wait, no, no, no. Stuff in beards is disgusting. I refuse to have my version of bear-man with anything in his beard. Bear-man immediately wiped his face with his extra-large sized T-shirt.
Next, I think bear-man ought to leave the bar and walk down the street to the convenience store. He would walk in very ominously, shifting his eyes around the store like he was checking out the location of all the exits, and then walk up to the counter. Behind the counter would sit a small-framed eighteen-year-old staring mindlessly at the game on his phone. Bear-man would slam his fist down on the counter, jarring the timid boy to attention, then squint his eyes intensely, as though some thunderous command would soon come out of his mouth.
Instead, my natural high-pitched girly voice would politely request a pack of cigarettes. Bear-man me likes contradiction. But let’s be realistic, bear version of me or not, I’m not smoking a cigarette. Bear-man gives the cigarettes to a homeless man.
Now what should bear-man me do? Chop down a tree? That would seem natural if Florida had mountains, but it doesn’t. Wrestle an alligator? Bear-man looks tough, but he’s got a bit of a reptile phobia. Belch? That seems likely, but is also disgusting.
I know! He would drive around town with his windows down, waiting to catch a lady’s eye, and then steal her essence.
Doesn’t seem right though, disrupting a lady’s day by exchanging essences like that. I tapped my long fingernails against the steering wheel once more, liking how thin and agile my fingers felt.
But I wonder, how’d he like being me?