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A bear and a pair of sunglasses

PAULETTE BALLARD

Guest Columnist

As told by Amber Lawson

 

It seems as though best friends always have great fun doing average things. My best friend, Jessica, and I went on a two-week beach vacation in April of 2005. We were having such a good time we didn’t want it to end.

As we began our trip home, we decided to take a detour and go from Myrtle Beach, S.C. to Maggie Valley.

It was a terrific and scenic car ride. Not being direction savvy, we got lost in Charlotte and before we realized what we had done, we were halfway to the beach again. We weren’t going to be discouraged by our mutual lack of map reading abilities or by the length of the trip, which was a long one. We laughed about our mistake and decided to make a game of stopping at all the crazy-looking stores we passed. We bought souvenirs such as cups, t-shirts, lighters and figurines.

At last we arrived at my aunt’s house in Maggie Valley. We were sunburned from our stay at the beach, broke, exhausted and had bags and bags of irreplaceable souvenirs!

We barely made it through dinner before falling asleep. The next morning we awoke refreshed and decided a day trip to Cherokee would be fun. We bought some more cheap souvenirs, mostly Native American novelty items, then walked to the animal park. Have you ever had a simple day trip turn into a fiasco?

We went to the bear exhibit first. Jessica leaned over the rail to see the bear and coo at it. Her sunglasses fell into the area and the bear grabbed them. Who would have thought a bear would enjoy a $150 pair of sunglasses? Jess was shrieking at the bear and trying to coerce me to go into the bear pen to retrieve her sunglasses. I was trying to talk the bear trainer into getting them for her, but he was trying to calm Jess down before she upset the other bears. Who cared about upsetting the bears, Jessica had just lost a $150 pair of sunglasses. We decided he didn’t have his priorities in order.

By this time other people were stopping to stare and point at us. It was the funniest sight! Every girl knows that if you have a great pair of sunglasses and they fit right, look right and feel right, you have a hard time replacing them. Being a guy, the bear trainer obviously didn’t fully understand this. A stranger approached us and offered to get the sunglasses for us. I thought the bear trainer was going to have a seizure as he yelled about “stupid young girls.” If I hadn’t been worried about his reaction it would have been hilarious to watch.

Realizing we weren’t leaving without the high-dollar sunglasses, the bear trainer finally relented. He entered the caged area to feed the animals, offered the big bear a treat and seized the sunglasses. He ran out of there like his bottom was on fire. He brought the precious sunglasses to Jessica and very kindly asked us to take them leave the park. I quickly decided we should just go and not argue. The whole thing was funny in a very outlandish, once-in-a-lifetime kind of way. We went back to my aunt’s house, packed all our souvenirs and came home to rest from our short vacation (or lack thereof).

Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it to pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.

 

 

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