Hey, Bob, I recently moved to Santa Fe, and I need some advice on protecting myself from the dangerous predators you have out here.
You're talking about those jewelry shops with the "Going Out of Business" signs?
Um, no, actually I meant bears and other wildlife. I'm getting conflicting advice. Let's say I'm out hiking and I see a big bear coming toward me, what do I do?
Not so fast. Is it a black bear or a brown bear? You need to know before you take action.
You mean the color? It looks black.
No, it's not as simple as color. Some black bears are brown or even blond, and brown bears can be reddish.
Then how the hell am I supposed to know what it is?
Always carry some good reference books in your backpack. In a matter of minutes, you can be fairly certain what you're dealing with.
A matter of minutes?! Are you fricking nuts? This bear is eight feet tall, with claws the size of a Subaru!
Don't worry, he won't mind waiting for his dinner.
His dinner? OMG! How can I save myself?
Advice varies, but I found one survival site that says—I am not making this up— "Exploit possible bear weaknesses."
Huh? What sort of weaknesses?
It didn't say. I suppose maybe low self-esteem, a stutter, an alcoholic mother, stuff like that.
What should I do first?
A number of experts advise you to "back away slowly and avoid eye contact."
That's exactly what they say about those Hare Krishna folks at the airport. Are there any weapons I can use?
You could try bear spray. The outdoor outfitter REI sells cans of "Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray" for $45.95.
Is that legal everywhere?
No. The REI website says they can't ship it to Massachusetts. I pity those poor doofuses in Boston when hibernation season ends.
Which bear spray should I buy?
I suggest the eight-can variety pack, to cover you against black bears, brown bears, polar bears, etc. It also includes a Chinese phrase book, in case of a panda attack.
None of this is making me feel safe, Bob. Have you ever seen a bear attack?
Indeed I have. I would describe it as…
No! Please, don't go there!
Sigh. OK, enough with the bears. What should I do about bobcats?
If you see one, break into the chicken dance. He won't come near you.
And mountain lions?
That's easy. They hate accordion music. Play a few bars of Lady of Spain and they'll run away screaming. Come to think of it, so would I.
What about coyotes?
A large Donald Trump poster should keep you safe from them.
Donald Trump, huh? That makes sense. And rattlesnakes?
You need to wear a necklace made of cooked Brussels sprouts. The stench will keep them miles away.
Let me see if I understand this. To be safe on a hike, I have to do the chicken dance, wear smelly Brussels sprouts, wave a Donald Trump poster, carry eight cans of bear spray and play the accordion?
Exactly. Not only will you be safe, you'll be quite a chick magnet, as well….
Robert Basler's humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org