By Samantha Wassel of Between the Monkey Bars
Mr. Brown Bear, of Eric Carle’s well-known children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is in a dark place. And it has nothing to do with caves or hibernation.
“I’m depressed,” he told us, sitting back on his haunches and grabbing a bear claw from the office breakfast spread. As he began despondently picking at the icing, I couldn’t help noticing the state of his own obviously gnawed-on talons.
“Let’s be honest: I’m past my prime. Parents hate me. I hear what they say as they’re cramming me back on the bookshelf when their toddlers leave the room: ‘Redundant.’ ‘Mind-numbing.’ ‘Pointless as fuck.’ And they’re right. I mean, look at me.”
Brown Bear paused to shove the remains of his pastry into his mouth before continuing.
“The kids don’t even respect me anymore. They chew on me, or toss me around like an inside-out, unlaundered sock. There are cooler bears out there now. Funnier bears. Cuddlier bears. More exciting bears.”
Brown Bear believes he can’t live up to the impossible standards set by the “popular bear crowd.”
“I’m not like the other bears, you know? I’m not going places like that worldly, cultured Paddington guy. He’s so sophisticated, with his tea and his briefcase and his fucking orange marmalade. He and Pooh Bear have moved on to the big screen. They’re legends. Movie stars. And where am I? Right where I started, with that damn Red Bird looking at me. Judging me.
“I don’t even blame him for staring. I’m a joke. A laughingstock. And not in a comically lucrative way like that exotic hunk in Kung Fu Panda.
“Nope, I’m a nobody. I don’t even have a distinctive name. I’m just ‘Brown.’ Like dirt. Or shit.”
Brown Bear feels like he lacks the sort of unique or defining qualities necessary to stand out among his more interesting Ursidae brethren, and it’s left him, well, brown with envy.
“The Berenstains are fashionable as fuck. I can’t even afford clothing. The Care Bears are altruistic; Smokey Bear is an everyday hero; and gummy bears are colorful, squishy in that fun-but-not-fat way, and downright delicious. Of course I’m jealous.
“Oh, and that family of three? I forget their names. You know who I’m talking about—those irresponsible homeowners with a disturbingly strong affinity for porridge? Yeah, well, let’s just say I’ve never had a hot blonde sleeping in my bed.”
Brown Bear’s personal insecurities have left him struggling with feelings of isolation.
“I’m so alone. Even that picnic-basket-pilfering buffoon Yogi has Boo-Boo to pal around with. God, don’t get me started on that Yogi and his pretentious green necktie. If I tried wearing a tie like that, I’d probably be publicly mocked for ‘trying too hard.’ That, or the damn thing would get caught in a bear trap and strangle me to death.”
Brown Bear sighed, eyeing the remains of our pastry platter and reaching for a now-soggy cinnamon roll. “Maybe that’d be for the best.”
When we reached out to Brown Bear for a follow-up statement a week after our initial interview, his agent told us he was unavailable for comment. We did, however, manage to track down Red Bird, whom we found anxiously fluttering about outside Brown Bear’s private residence.
“There’s nothing to see here anymore,” he told us. An anonymous informant, who wished to go by the pseudonym E. L. Oduck, later called our office to tell us that Brown Bear had been involuntarily admitted to an undisclosed—“but reputable”—treatment facility. Oduck credits the program for rehabilitating The Very Hungry Caterpillar during his binge-eating days and has high hopes for Mr. Bear.
About the Author
Samantha Wassel is an Army Wife and SAHM to three energetic boys and three lazy AF cats. She enjoys running, writing, kettle-belling, reading, nerding out, and eating exorbitant amounts of goat cheese and Peanut Butter Halo Top ice cream (but not together, because barf). You can find more of her work at Between the Monkey Bars.