The Transformation Story Archive Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...

The Cupboard is Bear

by Brian Eirik Coe

You know, there is nothing more annoying than finding a bear in the cupboard.

Particularly a bear wearing your wife's nightclothes.

It didn't take that long to figure out what had happened. After all, my wife has had a routine since we were married. She gets up every morning, makes her coffee (I prefer hot cider myself) and walks into the pantry to get her sugar. Of course, she hasn't really opened her eyes that wide by this time in the morning, and she hates to put on her glasses...

I guess that it really was a bad idea to put that bowl of white crystal powder I got from that Indian Shaman next to the sugar. Oh well. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Needless to say, Francis wasn't very happy about this. She had told me a hundred times to move that jar. (Why she didn't just do it herself is beyond me.) Naturally, she blamed me for her predicament. I chose to take the high road here and accept the blame.

After all, she was strong enough now to tear the door off a Buick. You think that I am going to fight with her now?

I had to admit, she looked better now. She'd gone from frumpy housewife to a rather magnificent bear. But, I realized that this had to be corrected. After all, the local homeowners association didn't even allow large dogs!

Unfortunately, the shaman that had given me the jar wasn't available. I didn't have to call around to figure that out: I'd seen him turn into a duck and fly south for the winter myself.

So, I did what any sensible person would do in a situation like this: I tried to contact the government. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an agency that would help me. Animal Control refereed me to Health and Human services. Health and Human Services refereed me to Animal Control. The people at the Smithsonian refereed me to NASA. The guy at NASA told me to call the Department of Energy. Energy told me to talk to Army, Army to Air Force, Air Force to Navy, Navy to Coast Guard.

By the time I was talking to the DMV, I decided that I needed to get to a person in charge!

The Mayor told me to talk to my Representative. My Representative told me to talk to my Senator. My Senator told me to talk to the White House. The White House told me that the President was at McDonalds and couldn't be disturbed.

Well, so much for my tax dollars at work. In the meantime, Francis had gotten hungry. I heard a crash while I was talking to the director of human waste removal for the 15th congressional district of Wyoming, but didn't have time to investigate. When I finally got off the phone, I discovered that Francis had cleaned out the entire fridge. She'd even eaten the Arm & Hammer! Although, I quickly realized that I was going to come out ahead on this deal. After all, last weekend she had cleaned out half the pantry as well.

"So much for Jennie Craig."

She took a swipe at me, but was so bloated that she missed.

At this point, I decided to get the bastion of modern knowledge to work. I loaded my wife into my 1989 Chevy Sprint. Sure, it took four tubs of Vaseline, and crowbar, and I'll have to replace the shocks, but she got in okay. Then, I set off for the University Hospital downtown. I figured that, if anyone could help, then they could. They were the premier hospital in the world, after all. They had done experiments that had shown that rats given a certain chemical became so smart that they could get out of any locked cage.

Sure, the study had no relevance for people, and there were about 3,000,000 rats in the city that were now smarter than Einstein, but it was an amazing accomplishment.

Well, the first problem came about when they asked for my HMO card. Apparently, my plan, Do-It-Yourself-Care, didn't cover the prestigious University Hospital. They certainly sympathized, but they also gave me directions to the nearest hospital that would take me. I wanted to protest this, but a gorilla in a guards uniform forcibly ejected us.

So, I jumped back into the Sprint and took off for Bob's Hospital. Sure, it's not as nice. The most recent magazine in the waiting room had a cover story about the League of Nations, the operating theater sold popcorn and the hospital had a special lawyers entrance, but I hoped that the doctor could help. So, I walked up to the nurse with my wife in tow.

"Can you help me?"

"What's your HMO?":


She punched a few buttons on the computer and put out her cigarette, "What seems to be the problem, sir?"

"My wife turned into a bear this morning."

"Was it the result of a science experiment or black magic?"

"Well, I don't what kind of magic it was, but it was..."

"Sorry sir, you HMO specially doesn't cover this."

"I don't believe that for a sec...", she flipped the computer monitor around and pointed to a highlighted passage, "This policy will also not cover you or you family or anyone else that you give a damn about in the event that magic, no matter the ultimate intention of the practitioner thereof, or be it by accidental exposure, natural function of the environment or persons involved, should render the patient into a state that is not unlike the state that a bear would resemble."


I think that Francis was ready to take the head off that nurse, but luckily she refrained. The last thing that we needed was to discover that the HMO didn't cover damage to bear paws resulting from the forcible removal of the cranium of a nurse..

So, we piled back into the ol' Sprint and raced back for home.

To describe what saw at home as a circus would be an understatement of the highest order. There were close to fifty different newsvans, including no fewer than 18 satellite trucks, blocking the road in all directions. There was so much microwave activity in the air that I swear I saw at least two sparrows burst into flame. The house was surrounded by hundreds of microphone toting shock troops with heavy aerial support from dozens of helicopters hovering overhead. Francis tried to duck down in the car, but it was to no avail. She weighed more than the car at the moment. We were abruptly surrounded on all sides by hordes of shouting cameramen and women, people who looked way to finely coifed for the time in the morning it was. The Chevy slowed to a crawl, then to a stop. Even though I didn't think a jury in the world would convict me, I just didn't want to run over any of these reporters. After all, the bumpers on these little cars are expensive . Suddenly, I got an idea.

"Look! O.J!", I shouted.

There was a mad stamped away from my car to the other side of the street. The helicopters all swung away from the house, and the reporters left their flank undefended. I slammed my foot down on the gas pedal, and with the car screaming along at 38 mph, I tore through the fortified defensive line at the front gate, smashed through a booth selling T-shirts, rolled over the opposition by the mailbox and managed to get though the ambush near the back door.

It wasn't without casualties, though. I took a leading question in the back.

I managed to pull Francis out of the car. Even if she can only growl and roar now, she still somehow managed to call me every name in the book and blame this whole thing on me, my parents and the Republican Congress before we got from the car to the inside of the house.

I did a quick room-by-room search looking for any hidden Current Affair Commandos. I didn't find any of them, but I did locate a mole from Dateline NBC in the freezer.

That's when I heard the knock on my door. I looked through the peephole and saw a nice looking middle aged woman. She didn't seem to have any trappings of journalism, so I decided to chance it and opened the door. As I did so, she slugged me.

"You horrible excuse for a human being! You waste of flesh! You brainless, heartless man you!"

For a minute, I thought my wife was back.

"What do you think that you are doing? You are keeping such a magnificent animal all cooped up in this tiny little house when there is a wonderful national park just thirty miles from here where she can run and play and have cubs for the rest of her life!"

I finally regained my breath. "Who the hell are you?"

She looked indignant (and ugly too), "Why I'm Helena Tinklemaster, founder and head of A.L.P.O., the Animal Lovers Persons Organization. And you are in big trouble, mister!"

I looked over at my very hairy wife, and back at the very hairy animal rights activist, "Do you have any idea what the hell you're talking about? This bear..."

"Is a person too! And her rights should be respected more that yours! You Beast!"

"But this bear is a person! She's my wife, Francis. Tell her honey."

Francis growled and nodded vigorously.

"What do you take me for? An idiot?"

"Look, I'll prove it to you!" I jogged from the living room into the kitchen and grabbed the offending piece of pottery from the pantry shelf. I ran back into the licking room. "Here. I got this from an old Indian Shaman. I mistakenly...", Francis growled loudly, "okay, stupidly placed it on a shelf in the pantry next to the sugar. Francis went for the sugar this morning and accidentally turned herself into a bear. Honest!"

The woman looked at me like I had just skinned a mink in front of her, "You have me believe that your wife turned into a bear just by eating a little of this stuff like this..." before I could stop her (although I didn't exactly try real hard) she stuck a moistened finger into the jar and licked off the powder. In an instant, I was suddenly looking at two large bears in my living room.

Unfortunately, in Helena's case, the ugliness transferred.

"Great. Look, lady...bear...whatever. I can't have two of you in the house. I'm going to have enough problems keeping Francis in Purina Bear Chow. You'll just have to go home and see if your HMO covers this yourself." I opened the door and shooed her out.

Of course, I didn't think about the fifteen thousand people from every aspect of life that were still camped out on my front lawn. I looked out the front window in time to see the local folks from the Parks Department shoot her full of tranquilizers, load her into a truck and head off in the general direction of the forest. Or the zoo, which ever is south from my house. Of course, the reporters kept trying to ask questions of the unconscious bear, but they later reported that she had no comment.

I had hoped that the media would have abandoned the story at this point. After all, they had seen the bear leave. Unfortunately, even as they were packing up, one of them realized that there still was a bear in the house. I just wasn't able to convince them that it was just my really big dog rooting through the garbage in the backyard. When they discovered that, I was forced to repel an invasion by a platoon of CNN cameramen who had attempted a flanking action in conjunction with a CBS crew and a diversion set up by Morely Safer.

Finally, the media circus died down. They all heard about an unconfirmed rumor that a person that did not totally look unlike Elvis had been seen eating dinner at the local Dennys with Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earheart. Apparently, O.J. Simpson had stopped by for coffee.

In the spring, I found the Shaman again. He'd just returned from his winter vacation. Of course, by that time it didn't matter much. Francis had left me for a Hollywood offer to star in the remake of "Gentle Ben". She got the house, the Sprint and the clay jar in the settlement. I got the food bill and four hundred "Bear-Gal" T-shirts that I can't give away.

I read in the Globe that she married Tom Arnold.

I hear they are very happy.

The Cupboard is Bear copyright 1996 by Brian Eirik Coe.

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