As I write there is a black bear wandering the southwest 'burbs. One news report said parents whose children walked home from school in the area where we had your basic bear-type situation were "advised" to pick them up.

Imagine getting that call:

"This is message from the Savage School District, which has unexpectedly experienced the literal meaning of its name. A bear has been observed near your child's school. We advise —" and the rest of the message is unheard, since you drove to the school so fast your cheeks were still rippling with G-forces when you got there.

Yes, I know. Helicopter parents, scared of a li'l quarter-ton hunk of feral appetite. Why, in my day they didn't call your Maw if there was a bear. We'd just put a brick in our Thunderbirds lunchbox and smack them in the nose. But would that work? I investigated what to do if you meet a bear. Options:

1. Play dead: The bear will lose interest. If you don't know how to play dead, impersonate Adam Sandler's career. 2. Don't run away: This encourages the bear. O jolly human! Let's play a game, which ends in my mindless consumption of your flanks. 3. Face the bear and yell at it: This confuses the bear, because he can't believe you think this works. 4. Punch the bear in the nose, some said, but I think their experience in dealing with wild animals comes from the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion.

I mean, I can't imagine they've done any controlled experiments on nose-punching. OK, well, that didn't work. Bob, you sew up Hank while Don gives it a try.

We're told that bears are more afraid of us than we are afraid of bears — true it might be, but not exactly consoling if you're being chased up a tree. REALLY ADMIRE THE WAY YOU'RE DEALING WITH THIS you might shout. Say it loud! Bears instinctively dislike insincerity.