“Once upon a time,” Steve began, “there was a hungry bear.”
“Not the bear story again!” yelled everyone.
“No, not the story you think you know,” Steve promised, “this happened just the other day.”
There was muttering, but everyone settled down to listen. And judge, because that is what they were expected to do, and had always done.
“Once upon a time, there was a hungry bear. He was such a hungry bear, but winter was dragging on, and nothing he wanted to eat was within reach. Then it appeared his luck would change for he had stumbled upon a humble fisherman at the side of the river working on luring the old trout. The bear knew the old trout was too canny to be caught by just any old fisherman, but this seemed like his best chance at a snack in a long time so he settled down to watch.”
“Now I–I mean the humble fisherman–cast into the deep water where that trout was rumored to live. The trout showed itself several times, a flash of silver in the dim light, but indeed was too canny to take the simple lure. One at a time, the fisherman tried every lure he had: big flashy chunks of bent metal to small brightly colored bits of plastic shaped like worms and crawly things. He even tried an actual worm, but since that only works in stories, it didn’t work this time either.”
Steve paused for a sip from his mug, but found it empty. After a meaningful stare at the empty mug and a hopeful stare at the crowd of rapt listeners, someone ponied up for a refill.
The crowd knew what to effect, and Steve came through.
“This time he brought out a lure that he had carried for years but never used. He tied the monstrosity to the line, and cast it out across the eddy, winding the lure back in fits and starts so it would resemble a smaller fish.”
“Suddenly, there was a hint of motion in the deep water. The old trout grabbed the lure and swam with powerful strokes towards the surface. It leapt out of the water, line trailing from its jaw. Leapt right in front of the bear, who as was previously established, was very hungry. The bear rose out of the scrub where it had been watching, and snatched the old trout right out of the air.”
“That old trout was huge. At least this big.” Steve gestured with his hands far too far apart to be believed. The crowd remained skeptical.
After a short pause, they realized that Steve was serious, and the story was essentially over. “Where’s the trout now?” someone prodded.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Steve responded. “The last I saw the bear had it firmly gripped in its jaws as it vanished into the woods. I may be a foolish fisherman, but there’s no way I was going to chase a bear!”