Stop me if you’ve heard this one… but not before you realize you haven’t.

Some friends are camping in the woods. Tents are pitched, sleeping bags unfurled, firewood procured. Sun’s down, its light and warmth mimicked, on a much smaller scale, in a circle of stones. Weenies roasted, marshmallows toasted and the group proceeds onto the rigorous task of emptying the Igloo cooler of its chilled, brown bottled contents.

Well into the night with good spirits all round. As the numbing embrace on inebriation unfolds and enfolds upon the group. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool; so much so they are unaware of their visitor when he arrives.

Standing at the clearing’s edge he looks on in rapt silence and simply observes. Was it their joyous revelry which caught his ear and drew him to their camp? Perhaps the warm smells of cooked foodstuffs, intermingled and tainted with the arid scent of alcohol, were what led him to this place? Or was it the welcoming glow of the fire, lighting up the dark woodland and subtly inviting him to partake of its warmth?

Whichever or whatever it was ­— he has arrived. And when the campers become cognizant of his presence their awareness as well as reaction is instantaneously universal. Petrified panic sweeps through the camp and none dare bat an eye nor draw a breath. All have fallen silent with every terrified eye focused on the massive shape as it emerges from the darkness to become a behemoth before them. Having a 600+ pound grizzly bear suddenly appear less than 15 feet away is an instantaneously sobering experience.

Moments pass and one camper warily, bravely rises to his feet asking his nearest fellow camper to “Hold my beer.” And he does, taking the bottle and confidently assuming his friend might try to admirably confront the animal or heroically scare it off. Instead he simply begins removing his shoes. “What are you doing?” he asks. “I can run faster without my shoes!” is the reply. “You can’t outrun a bear!” is the warning response. “I don’t have to outrun the bear… I just have to outrun you!” is his snarky reply as he tosses his shoes aside.

campersNote to reader: Don’t stop me just yet…

Enraged at his friend’s self-serving arrogance, the recently appointed “holder of the beer” leaps to his feet. Angrily he violently smashes the bottle he was asked to hold as well as his own on the ground around his “friends” now bare feet. Shards of broken glass are strewn everywhere, glistening in the campfires flickering light. “Let’s see you outrun me now motherf*****!”

Becoming foolishly oblivious to their dangerous surroundings and situation, a shouting match ensues. Traded pushes lead to punches exchanged. Fortunately in times of crisis cooler heads often rise to the occasion and prevail. So amidst the rapidly growing idiocracy a 3rd camper rises to the occasion and feet.

Quickly and quietly the extra pack of hotdogs and remaining marshmallows are acquired. Now the plan is to lay a trail of goodies into the woods, to lure the curious carnivore away from camp and his fellow campers. It’s risky business to be sure but something must be done. On the logical side, if the bruin can’t be baited away the camper will at least be far enough away to make a break for it and go get help. (Not that there’s a lot of help one can give following a potential bear attack.)

Before he can act, the bear makes the first move, rising onto its hind legs, the creature towers over the campers. The combatants quell their brainless battle. The mallow bag falls from camper #3’s hand, its contents spilling onto the forest floor. All stand frozen in horror awaiting their fates.

The bear raises a huge forepaw above its head and brings it back down… holding a shovel!?! Which he points threateningly toward the terrified trio and in a deep bass growl utters two words — “ONLY YOU!”

So which camper/friend are you? Are you the “Screw you guys I’m outta here!” type?

Or are you the “Well if I’m not getting out nobody is!” type? Maybe you’re the “Hey let’s work together!” type. Or maybe you’re a bear in pants, wandering through the forest, putting out fires and dealing with drunken idiots.

I welcome almost all questions, comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected].

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused! See ya.