Molly Fisk: The Power of Anger; or, Hexed by a Bear

1-512I’ve been feeling kind of surly lately—uncomfortable in my own skin and cantankerous about it. Things that never used to bother me—like middle-aged men in green Subarus who pass a parking spot at the market and then change their minds, backing up to take it, and motioning me to back up so they can angle in when I was going to park there myself—make me furious. I was actually ready to slap one such person the other day, but by the time I parked he had disappeared into the store.

I should have gone home right then, because my errand was useless. I managed to purchase the wrong-sized track light bulb, triple-A batteries instead of double-As—prudently buying the economy size—and sourdough bread rather than multi-grain. When I unpacked the bag in my kitchen, all I could do was laugh and wonder at the power of anger to addle my usually well-oiled brain. I have sometimes bought the wrong battery by misremembering what I needed, but never before have I looked at 3-As and seen only 2-As.

One moral of this story is:  Never tailgate green Subarus in grocery-store parking lots. Another moral is that learning to laugh at your own mistakes will save you. It has only taken me 50 years to figure this out, but what’s half a century of effort when the results are so useful?

And there’s something I haven’t told you yet. I think the reason I’m feeling so surly these days is that I was hexed by a bear.

Where I live, bears are not that common. Newspaper stories describe what pests they are, getting into peoples’ trash up at Lake Tahoe, or how one’s been spotted ambling across a highway, stopping traffic. This bear—my bear—was racing pell-mell through the trees on a rainy night about nine o’clock, and jumped off a high bank into Empress Road just as I had turned the corner and gotten to the same spot on the asphalt. Luckily there was room for both of us, and we moved forward together at breakneck speed for a few moments. My heart was in my throat, my voice uttered the same stupid swear word over and over. Then I remembered that bears can get into locked cars (they do it in Yosemite, easy as opening a tuna can), so I sped up and left the bear behind.

Because it felt as if the bear was jumping off the bank onto my left shoulder, and because her back was as tall as the hood of my car, I drove perhaps further than was strictly necessary before curiosity kicked in. Then I went back, but she was gone. No crashing through the underbrush, no gleaming yellow eyes. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through my veins, but I was wildly disappointed. I hadn’t been able to look at her long enough—my impression was only of hugeness, and very large feet. She was a dark color, but was it brown or black? Was she sleek? I never found out.

It took me forever to get to sleep that night, but ever since I seem to sleep more and more. And this surliness has come over me, accompanied by sudden desires to slap people. I’m pretty sure that bear hexed me. Reading the paper this morning, I caught myself gnashing my teeth.

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  • Molly Fisk June 9, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind words and for letting me know, David!

  • David Smith June 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I love your writing. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom. I look forward to purchasing your book in the near future.

  • Molly Fisk January 31, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for your kind words, Mickey! Nicole Hollander of “Sylvia” fame? Those cartoons kept me alive! So wonderful…

    The book can be purchased on my website:, or you can order it from your local indie bookstore (tell them Ingram carries it). It’s also for sale on the dreaded Amazon… Thanks for asking. 😉

  • Mickey January 31, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I love your writing, Molly. This made me laugh so hard. I’m going to send the link to Nicole Hollander, retired cartoonist, in Chicago. Thank you for making me laugh. And where can I get the book about promoting world peace. I guess that’s better than saying: Are you out of turn signal fluid?! or worse. I also say: Signal THEN brake!