Originally Published October 21, 2004
The Soupster’s rump itched. He squirmed in his seat. Pay attention! he told himself.
On the stage at the packed political meeting the Soupster attended, two familiar Alaskans debated the future of Our Town. Everyone was rapt to what was happening on stage, but the Soupster worried people could see him squirm and that they knew why.
At the right, standing at a podium, was a female brown bear, so tall she could reach up and knock the klieg lights above her head. To the left, behind the other podium, or rather perched on it, was a sleek raven.
“Ferry service!” squawked the raven. “Much better than roads.”
“Easy for you to say,” countered the bear. “You can fly. My constituents need roads.”
The crowd, all human, murmured in assent or dissent.
“Technology for medical care,” the bird called out. “Long distance docs!”
“Your doc should be close enough to look in the eye,” said the bear. “Of course, the last time a human looked me in the eye I ate him.”
The raven appeared momentarily worried.
“Hrrumph” said the bear.
The Soupster’s itch made him squirm again. This time he was sure it was noticeable. He wondered if he could slip out the back door, make it around the corner of the building and have a good scratch.
“You believe in large classrooms,” squawked the raven. “Lots of kids, too many kids.”
“I believe in the sanctity of the den,” said the bear, looking momentarily majestic.
“I believe in taking the chance at opportunity,” said the raven.
“And I believe in staking out your claim and never having to say you’re sorry,” said the bear.
The moderator banged his gavel and put forth the final question.
“If one animal could be said to represent the Alaskan spirit, which animal should that be?” said the moderator.
“I’ve been on license plates,” said the bear. “And on the “Made in Alaska” sign, although that’s my cousin actually. Representing Alaska, should, of course, be me.”
“My visage sells products from coffee to radios to football teams. Everyone knows a poem about me. Is there a poem about a bear that comes as easily to mind?” the raven posed sarcastically.
The bear became angry and clawed chunks out of the sides of its podium. The raven flew around the bear’s head in circles. The moderator banged his gavel repeatedly.
The Soupster used the fracas to cover his escape. By the time everyone had calmed and the debate resumed, the Soupster was slipping out the back door. Politics was the future, the Soupster knew and one had to pay attention to the future. But, he thought, passing out of sight around the corner, sometimes, there was more pressing business at hand.
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