I’m a polar bear now. It’s been difficult a transformation, requiring years of staying indoors, avoiding exposure to UV rays, taking daily vitamin D supplements. It also required careful study of polar bear behavior through in-depth analysis of wildlife documentary footage, countless reenactment sessions, improv classes, and instructions from dozens of the world’s foremost zoologists. Most people thought I stayed indoors due to a proclivity for reclusion, that I spent so much time looking at YouTube videos of polar bears due to an irrational fondness for their furry white faces, that my life was without purpose, descending quietly into oblivion like a defunct satellite. No, it was all productive time spent on important polar bear related activities. I have surgically implanted bear teeth now. I can’t shut my mouth properly, and there are multiple infections along my gums, but look — I can bite through the tops of Pepsi cans.
Polar bears are classified as a “vulnerable species” and are therefore biological treasures to be protected, a stark contrast to 23-year-old unemployed “writers” who society has no interest in protecting and would rather see extinct, or if not extinct then reduced to writing text for image macros of cute cats. People see polar bears, and they say, “There is a perfect product of nature’s evolutionary mechanisms. I want to pet his head and ride him like a horse.” People see 23-year-old unemployed “writers,” and they say, “There is a narcissistic piece of human garbage. I hope he drowns in his own puke.” No one has ever looked at a polar bear and said, “You fat pretentious douchebag, grow up and get a job.” No one has ever looked at a polar bear and said, “You arrogant white girl, all you do is talk about your boring life.” No one has ever looked at a polar bear and said, “You asinine little sociopath, your existence on this earth is unnecessary and superfluous.” Polar bears can’t talk, and even if they could, they wouldn’t say anything egotistical; they’d just talk about being hungry, ask for penguins to eat, and discuss the environmental impact of global warming.
I walk around town on all fours, naked, grunting, sniffing trash cans and dried gum on the sidewalk. Everyone is enraptured by my presence. They thought they needed to pay an exorbitant fee to the local zoo to see a polar bear, but no, here’s one wandering down the street like a stray dog. All around me, I hear the clicks of camera phones. Small children stroke my head and squeeze my cheeks. An elderly man hands me a cheeseburger followed by a toddler handing me a milkshake — and then a whole crowd coalesces, all wanting to feed me tasty treats. ‘This is the best day of my whole life,’ I think as someone presents me with an entire fudge brownie cheesecake.
When I growl at people I dislike, no one says, “What a conceited jerk. Maybe he should work on his social skills.” No one says, “There’s nothing cool about being unfriendly or aloof.” They say, “He is a wild animal, a noble carnivore, an exalted arctic predator.” Even when I bite people’s faces off and chew their nostril meat like jerky, witnesses simply shrug and say again, “He’s a wild animal. What else could we expect?” Animals can’t be tried in the court of law, and “vulnerable species” can’t be killed for demonstrating normal carnivorous behavior. That’s my understanding at least.
Despite their viciousness, people love and respect polar bears. I enjoy receiving both of those things in large quantities, savor the sensation of my ego swelling like a balloon in direct correlation to their slow steady accumulation. If love/ respect were a publicly traded company, all of my capital would be invested in its stock, so that every dip and rise in price drastically affected my mood. Polar bears’ stock in love/ respect is probably at its highest ever due to their declining population, their function as symbols of global warming’s immediate impact, and that YouTube video of them playing with dogs.
I live a fairly simple life now, one focused principally on hunting, eating, sniffing, looking at things, and biting. Polar bears have no bills or rent. They don’t pay for groceries or alcohol — they just break into houses and steal what they need. No one faults me for being unemployed because no one wants hire a gigantic bloodthirsty animal except maybe the circus, the zoo, or film studios making talking polar bear movies, but certainly not Applebee’s. It’s much easier to make friends as a polar bear. I simply wrap my giant furry arms around people’s necks and drag them away to play videogames. If I want to date someone, I roar and swipe and snarl until a phone number is presented. Polar bears don’t get lonely, even while wandering for days across their icy frozen wasteland home, never seeing another living creature. If they feel depressed, they do thirty minutes of bear yoga and then they feel happy again. That’s my understanding at least.
I’m taken much more seriously as a polar bear than I ever was as a 23-year-old unemployed “writer.” People are more interested in my activities particularly because I might bite someone’s thigh or bash through a wall to reach a pot of jambalaya. Still, I miss driving cars, operating computers, taking showers; my back hurts from walking on all fours all day, and sometimes I feel like people don’t like me, that they only like the polar bear. My body’s rejecting the bear teeth, causing my gums to ooze sticky fluid in a way that is not altogether attractive. I suspect people doubt my polar bear impersonation, particularly because of my physical size, lack of fur, and opposable thumbs. Maybe I should pick another animal to impersonate, one closer in physical form to myself, a sloth, a rabbit, a koala, or an octopus. If not that, I think I would like to go live in a cave in the arctic by myself and watch the ice caps melt.