The Bear Who Let It Alone
James Thurber, from Fables for Our Time. New York, 1940
IN THE woods of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or let it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey, and he would have just two drinks. Then he would put some money on the bar and say, “See what the bears in the back room will have,” and he would go home. But finally he took to drinking by himself most of the day. ‘He would reel home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge ‘lamps, and ram his elbows ‘through the windows. Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
At length the bear saw the error of his ways and began to reform. In the end he became a famous: teetotaller and a persistent temperance lecturer. He would tell everybody that came to his house about the awful effects of drink, and ‘he would boast about how strong and well he had become since he gave up touching the stuff. To demonstrate this, he would stand on his head and on his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps, and ramming his elbows through the windows. Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his. healthful exercise, and, go to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.Moral: You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.