New Jersey, Deer and a Bear

My dear friend Misty moved to New Jersey a few months ago. I know, we’re not talking about it. We’ve known each other since we were 16. She was my first friend when I moved to Little Rock during high school.

She’s the kind of friend who I talked to almost every day, and we had coffee once a week. Yes, we still talk often on the phone, but it’s just not the same. She used to show up at my house doing the “pee pee dance” because she’d be so excited by the latest gossip she just heard. That doesn’t quite translate over the phone.

Adjusting to life without her here has been, well, an adjustment. Certainly, she knew life in New Jersey would be different from Arkansas and Texas, where she’s lived all her life, but the culture shock has been a little different than expected.

They found this great house in a fabulous little town with about 5,000 people. It has great schools. It’s an easy commute to Manhattan, where her husband works. Blah, blah, blah, far from me.

They have a big yard. Like really big. Like 5 acres big, kind of yard. Their whole neighborhood is like this. Everyone has what I’ve taken to calling “estates,” which embarrasses her to death, so it’s even more fun. Anyway, it’s pretty common to have deer roaming around.

I’m all, dude, we got deer here. We got so many deer, we have whole seasons dedicated to “thinning the heard.” It’s called deer season. You didn’t have to move 28 states away for deer in your yard. But that’s apparently not the point or something.

Earlier this week, she and her adorable 2-year-old son are playing in the backyard. They probably looked like something out of a magazine: beautiful Misty, with her precious child, playing ball on the grounds of their estate. Over the course of the game and kicking the ball, they’ve gotten a fair amount of space between them.

She heard some rustling in the bushes. She wasn’t not too concerned, figuring it’s another deer. But then she got a closer look and realized, IT’S A BLACK BEAR!

Black Bear photo I found on a site called "Nature on the Edge of New York City." I would like to add... where it should NOT be!

Black Bear photo I found on a site called “Nature on the Edge of New York City.” I would like to add… where it should NOT be!

She’s telling me this, and I’m thinking, “I’m from Arkansas. I should know what to do here. Do you run? Do you freeze? Crap! What do you do when there’s a bear?!?”

Then I heard her say, “I’m from Arkansas and Texas. I should know what to do here. But I couldn’t remember. Do you run? Do you freeze? Crap! What do you do when there’s a bear?!?”

I’m all, “I DON’T KNOW! What did you do?”

Of course complicating all this is that her son was pretty far away from her. And he’s TWO. So even if you are supposed to freeze, it’s not like he’s gonna do that. And she had to figure this out in less than a second, you know, because THERE’S A BLACK BEAR IN HER YARD!

She decided to run and grab her son and make a break for the house. And of course she fell. They whole thing started to feel like a bad teen horror movie. She scraped her knee up badly, but her kid is ok.

Meanwhile, the bear was kinda lumbering through the yard, all hey what’s going on around here? Anything interesting going on?

She practically broke the door handle getting inside, slammed the door and proceeded to cry and have a heart attack on the kitchen floor. Because you know, THERE’S A BLACK BEAR IN HER YARD!

She called the police as her last act before the stroke set in to warn them of the ferocious beast on the grounds of her estate. They’re all perfectly calm, “Oh, ok. Let us connect you to the bear unit.” BEAR UNIT!

This town has 5,000 people. But it has a designated BEAR UNIT?!? This cannot be good. The guys came over. Seems she’s the third or fourth call they had that day. The black bear was making his way through the neighborhood. No one seemed super concerned.

She’s like, “Y’all. I’m from Arkansas. You know, the NATURAL state. I came to New Jersey to get away from that business. What do you mean we have BEARS here?”

They gave her some tips: keep your trash on the outskirts of your property, pour ammonia on it, keep your garage and all doors shut and locked, maybe get a dog.

I’m like, “What’s dog gonna do? The bear would totally eat it!” She said they recommend them as alarm systems, so a bear doesn’t sneak up on you. Because, of course. Unless the bear EATS your alarm system. But potentially that would cause quite a ruckus and alert you as well.

After the Bear Unit left, she called her husband at work. She was still pretty worked up about all of this, even though no one else seemed to be. She’s all, “I was just chased by black bear through the back yard!”

He paused for a long time, “Is this code for something?”

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