The Bear Facts
People Who’ve Beaten Me Up
BY SID STRAW
My nose has been broken 28 times. I swear that I’m not making that up -- 28 times. An x-ray of my nasal area looks like kind of a jigsaw puzzle,
although my doctor says it reminds him of Hiroshima. You see, I used to
get into a lot of fights. My dad says it was because I was a wise-ass. My
mom said it was because all of the other kids were jealous of me. My mom
is a really nice lady. I like her.
The following is a partial list of people who have done physical
damage to me (most of these encounters resulted in me having two cotton
balls stuck up my nostrils for an extended period of time):
1. Jeff Hill
Jeff was a good friend of mine in grade school, but he was terminally
hyperactive. We used to sit next to each other in Mrs. Converse’s social
studies course, and when Mrs. Converse would leave the room to readjust
her slip, Jeff would belt me over the head with his binder. The one
pleasure which I took in Jeff’s hyperactivity was that he always managed to
hurt himself. Once in the third grade, he broke his arm on a field trip to
Newport, R.I. He slept over at my house later that week, and when I
wouldn’t let him eat my new Avengers comic book, he bashed me in the
face with his cast. I stopped breathing for about a week.
2. Tom Barry
Tom was a neighbor in Rhode Island. We stopped being friends
when he drew a moustache on my Tom Seaver baseball card. Well, I got
really angry and put his best frog under the tire of his mom’s car. When he
found out, he came over to my house and gave me a really bad Indian rub
on my right wrist and tried to shove my turtle in my mouth. Then, he put
dog manure in my Red Sox batting helmet, but I didn’t find out about that
3. Mr. Barry
Mr. Barry was Tom’s dad, and he had a really disgusting scar on his face which resembled Lake Champlain. He was really mad because he had
bought that frog for Tom (I thought everyone got their frogs over at
Dubner’s Pond). Then he had the nerve to accuse me of setting fire to their
dog Pepper (which I did but wasn’t about to admit). Anyhow, he chased
me around for a while on his riding lawnmower before he rubbed my face
against his stucco house.
4. Todd Foxx
I called Todd a queer because he was staring at everyone in the
shower after gym, and he took it personally. He followed me home from
school on his moped and broke my arm with his baseball bat. Then I
punched him in the mouth and broke his jaw which was a really stupid
thing to do since it just made him angrier and he broke my nose. It was
even stupider since Mr. Foxx was my soccer coach and made me sit on the
bench all season.
5. Doody Gumpis
Doody had the gall to tell me that Nancy O’Hare, my junior high dream girl, had a goldfish-shaped mole on her left breast. Attempting to
defend her honor, I got my ribs beat up pretty good. Even worse, Doody
ended up taking Nancy to the graduation dance, and, while doing the Latin
hustle, he ripped off her dress to reveal the mole. It was shaped more like
a wide-mouth bass than a goldfish, though.
6. The Ridgewood Braves basketball team
Sometimes I get pretty excited when I’m in a close game. Sometimes I go a bit overboard. Anyhow, this time we were up by four points with a
minute to go, so they fouled me just to stop the clock. Their center grabbed
me around the neck and threw me down. So, I jumped up and yelled,
“C’mon, I’ll take you all on.” They accepted.
7. Scott Hilmer
I told everyone that I went out with Scott’s sister when I really didn’t. She was so embarrassed that she made her whole family move to another
state. Scott got mad because he wanted to stay.
8. Debbie Kastern
I would rather not talk about this one, okay?
9. Mr. Carlson.
Mr. Carlson was my homeroom teacher in fifth grade. I once ran into
him at a drugstore on a day when I had stayed home even though I was
supposed to give an oral report on the history of Dutch housing. He said
that he was glad to see that I was feeling better. Then he ran into me with
10. Mrs. Hallowell
Mrs. Hallowell was our next door neighbor in Walnut Creek,
California. She got very upset when I spit in the sterno during her Labor
Day party and all the Swedish meatballs got cold. She hit me over the head
with some Corningware.
11. Two big guys who must be in a frat
I tried to give them beer from the “waste bucket” at a college party. I
learned that this was a mistake.
The Bear Facts
Amazing Folks, Amazing Feats
BY SID STRAW
Though I complain about it a lot, my life has been pretty exciting. I
have met some of the most interesting people in the world and have been
present to witness some of the most fascinating events in history. The
following are brief summaries of some of the most incredible events ever
encountered. I swear that all of these actually occurred, and I assure you
that all of them have been verified by Mr. Willie C. Neville, a notary public
who works in the stock room at K-Mart.
Mark sat next to me in sixth-grade homeroom. During recess, he
would put a marble in one of his nostrils and then blow it out the other one.
No one could figure out how he did it (a reasonable guess is that he put
another marble exactly the same as the first in his other nostril before he
came to school). Anyhow, the trick lost a great deal of its appeal during the
flu and cold season.
I once saw my dad carry an entire 500-pound air conditioner all by
himself. The only reason I was there to witness it, and the only reason he
did it by himself, is that I let go of my half of it.
The First Baseman for the Indian Hills Braves
With the score tied three to three in the last inning, this guy hit a
baseball further than anyone in the history of the world. I know -- I threw
the pitch and had to hear about it for two years.
Wally swiped dog biscuits from the A&P supermarket and then
proceeded to eat the entire box of them, 120 in all. There are two
interesting facts to this story. First, Wally was 18 years old when he did
this. Second, his teeth actually became whiter.
Bunny was the co-captain of our high school’s gymnastic team, and she performed some fairly incredible feats with her supple body in the
back of Kevin Greene’s Country Estate wagon. Okay, I didn’t actually see
it myself, but the way Kevin tells a story, it was like I was there the whole
Once when we were in our “minnows” class at the YMCA, Michelle
held her breath underwater for three minutes and 21 seconds. Her older
brother Doug, who was a “flying fish,” held her head down. I watched the
My Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob
Actually, they’re not my real aunt and uncle, just my godparents.
Anyhow, their major feat deals with their son Kurt, the most super colossal
bonehead ever to set foot on the planet (including Don Knotts). Well, using
the proper combination of connections, money and spineless begging, Aunt
Dot and Uncle Bob managed to get this brainless half-wolf, half-man into
My Cousin Kurt
My cousin Kurt flunked out of Princeton after three and a half days.
On a dare, Rick kissed Debbie “Horselips” Morowitz. I’ll show you
her picture in my high school yearbook if you don’t think this is a big deal.
Once, about two years ago, when he was painting the shutters of our
house, I saw my dad fall from the top of a 20-foot ladder and survive. The
reason I was there to see this feat was that I was the one who backed my sister’s Mustang into the ladder.
He once ate 264 individually-wrapped slices of American cheese,
with the wrappers still on. Another time he drank a whole glass of
gasoline and threatened to blow himself up by eating hot peppers.
My good friend Kevin met Goldie Hawn at a big party at the
University of Pittsburgh, took her back to his apartment, and spent the
night with her. Granted, I wasn’t actually there to watch this, but Kevin
has never lied to me before and he did provide me with a lot of details.
On the rollercoaster at Great Adventure, the one with the loop,
Jeannie threw up and it hit her on the top of the head. It makes sense if you
think about it.
He was a neighbor of ours in California, and the only person I’ve ever seen ride a bicycle with no hands. Now, you might think that’s
nothing, but when I say that he had no hands, I mean that physically he
had no hands. Anyhow, Alex could always be seen riding up and down
the block until the incident with the speeding moving van.
My younger brother Tom
Our dad is 6'4" tall and weighs about 220 pounds. Well, once Tom
called him “the biggest shitheel on the continent,” and told him to “take the
boot out of your butt and act like a normal human being for a change.”
(These, I assure you, are direct quotes.) Well, what made this amazing was
that my dad didn’t slap Tom silly for saying this. Come to think of it, the
neck brace and truss which Dad acquired from the air conditioner and
ladder adventures might have saved Tom’s life.
The Bear Facts
What My Little Brother Eats
BY SID STRAW
My little brother Tom is basically a good kid except for one irritating
quirk -- he doesn’t lose his temper. You can yell at him all you want, and
he won’t argue back. You can step on his fingers with workboots and pull
those little hairs out of his arms and belt him really hard, and he won’t
fight back. I know -- I’ve tried all of these.
This isn’t to say that he doesn’t get even because he does. You see,
instead of fighting, Tom waits until whoever has angered him is asleep,
away, or merely unsuspecting. Then he eats one of that person’s
possessions. It’s a perfect crime since, unless an item doesn’t sit well in his
stomach, there is no evidence.
What follows is a partial list of items which I know for a fact that he
has consumed. It does not include those household items which have been
missing but cannot be traced to him.
Malibu Barbie (and assorted pieces of her wardrobe): My sister
Amy said that his new haircut made him look like Helen Reddy. He
retaliated by downing her favorite doll, the one that tans if you stick it
under a lamp. The best part of this was that he left one of the severed
limbs floating in the bathtub. I swear it was just like Jaws, especially when
Amy screamed when she found it.
$95.17: After Tom struck out with the bases loaded in a Little League
game, my dad smacked him with a wrench and made him cut the lawn
even though it was dark already. Tom waited for him to take a shower and
then ate all of the money that he had left on his bureau. He ate his Exxon
card the next day, but only because Dad had the nerve to accuse him of
stealing the money.
An autographed picture of Christie Brinkley: Too painful to talk
about (and this pain is not the least bit reduced by the knowledge that I
forged the whole thing myself).
The Altamore’s rec room: Tommy Altamore refused to pay Tom for doing his paper route while he was on vacation in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Tom broke into their rec room (that’s what you call it when you put wood
paneling up in your basement) and ate their ping pong net, part of Mr.
Altamore’s workbench, a cushion to one of their sofas that’s supposed to
look like it’s Polynesian or something but doesn’t look like much of
anything now that it’s missing a cushion, and a whole bunch of other neat stuff.
A sweater: My sister Amy called him a “big doodyhead” in front of
all his friends, so he ate the sweater my parents gave her for her First
Communion. He denies doing it, but I caught him throwing up sequins in
the middle of the night. No kidding.
Recipes: Mom wouldn’t let him shoot off bottle rockets in the
backyard. Tom ate her Betty Crocker recipe file. It’s all pretty simple.
A catcher’s mitt: Me again. I was playing golf, didn’t notice him walk up behind me, and accidentally took a divot out of his left cheek. He
was such a baby about the whole thing. And he really didn’t have to eat
my glove since I got grounded anyway.
Women’s underwear, size 8: You know, I don’t think anyone even
did anything to him this time. We were at Macy’s once, and all of a sudden he started shoving a bunch of those panties with the days of the week on
them into his mouth. He got a Sunday, a Friday, and two Mondays before
a saleslady tossed us out.
The Bear Facts
Summaries of Good Books That I’ve Read
BY SID STRAW
I think I figured out why hardly anyone here takes English courses
unless they’re English majors -- there’s tons of reading to do. Some of these
books are actually fun to read, but reading a book a week is kind of a pain,
and after three weeks there’s no way you’re gonna stay in the course.
So, to ease your reading load, I’ve written up short summaries of
some books you might be asked to read. Hopefully, these will be enough
to get you through class if you don’t have enough time to read every page.
You can thank me later.
The Scarlet Letter: This lady has a baby even though she’s not
married, which is fairly common where I come from but evidently not so
common back then. Anyway, she had to wear this red “A” on her chest all the time and felt real bad about it, but if she hadn’t moped around all the
time everyone probably would have figured out it was her initial or
something like on those preppy sweaters.
The Red Badge of Courage: I didn’t read this one, but I saw it when it was on TV and the guy who played John-Boy Walton was in it. John-Boy
got beat up pretty good before I got bored and switched on Rhoda, but if it’s
like the rest of the war movies I’ve seen, I’m sure he winds up dead or
blind or something, and his family cries a lot.
Moby Dick: Sorry, but I didn’t read it. It was too big, and even the
Monarch Notes were like 150 pages. It was about a whale and a guy with a
wooden leg, if that’s any help.
The Gift of the Magi: This lady cuts off all of her hair and sells it so
she can buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch. The guy sells his
pocket watch to buy a comb for his wife. This is a good example of the lack
of communication that plagues married couples. What’s worse is that
we’re supposed to believe that there are guys who walk the streets trying
to buy people’s hair. C’mon, give me a break.
Catcher in the Rye: This guy gets thrown out of school, so he does a
lot of really strange things that’ll make you stop feeling as weird about the
things you do. He also uses the “f-word” about a zillion times, so if you
ever discuss the book in class use the “f-word” as often as you want. When the teacher gives you a dirty look, just say you were referring to a passage.
It’s funny. Try it. It almost worked in high school.
1984: Good book. This guy Orwell wrote it about 30 or so years ago,
and everybody’s pretty stupid and does whatever they’re told. So I guess
what he’s saying is that in the future it’s going to be like everyone’s in
community college or something.
The Bible: In this book, half the time God’s really nice and half the
time he’s really mean. Like once he almost made this guy kill his own kid.
Personally, I liked him better when he was nice. Well, then there’s this guy
who does a lot of really neat things with blind people and fish. He dies,
and then he pushed this rock after he’s dead. That was my favorite part. Oh yeah, there are a whole bunch of people with Jewish names in it, so it has
something for everyone.
Greek and Roman Mythology: There’s a guy with three heads, another guy with one eye, and a woman with snakes on her head, a guy
that’s got a horse’s body, hundreds of people with wings, a lady who could
kill you with her voice, and a whole bunch of monsters who scare the hell
out of practically everybody. Basically, it’s the makings of a great comic
book, but you’ll feel pretty stupid writing a term paper about it.
Romeo and Juliet: This boy and this girl kill themselves, and it’s
really depressing because they were in love and everything. What’s even
more depressing is that I don’t think they even got to fool around first or, if
they did, it was so bad that neither of them wanted to talk about it through
the whole play.