Dear Mr. Bear Grylls… sir,
I have been meaning to write this open letter to you for quite sometime. I know this must be awkward for you, seeing as how we have never met, but nonetheless, I thought it only appropriate to memorialize my thoughts in just such a forum.
I am the father of four boys. They are young—under the age of 8, to be exact—and seem to understand that television is a mere representation of life, not life in actuality. That being said, my three eldest seek to emulate your every act on a near daily basis. Hoping to climb the tallest trees, swim the deepest oceans, and scale the heights of Everest “just like Bear,” my boys have declared you the manliest of men. (As an aside, I do know a man named Chuck from Russellville who I believe might give you a run for you money in a cage match, but that is for another day.)
So, when you describe eating snails as akin to swallowing “a cold wet boogey,” my sons will apply said terminology to Brussels sprouts. (They are growing in their use of British idioms.) When you improvise sunscreen from coconut oil, they’ll improvise too, and smear red clay all over their bodies. They’ll make pencil shaving bird nests and look for a flint to strike into the bed. They’ll create floatation devices with their cargo pants and jump into the coy pond. They’ll talk of surviving the wilds of the Ozarks, of making rabbit traps using only their pocket knives and some fibrous root cuttings. They’ll speak of the “loads of gooey sludge” that comprise the edible innards of a scorpion, and hope to feel the crack of the pincers between their teeth.
And it’s not just your heroics and antics that pique their interest; your wisdom and warnings snare their attention too. Thus, when Isaac accidentally sidled up next to a baby cotton mouth last week, he made no sudden moves but instead slowly slinked back to let his daddy know. (Granted, he wanted me to catch the baby striker “just like Bear Grylls,” but I told him that although I was certainly “special” I was lacking in the “forces” department.) When you speak of your faith, they gleefully tell me that “Bear Grylls believes in God.” When they hear you say “Jesus is unchanging and we are forgiven…” they see that a real man needs to seek peace.
Although my boys’ penchant for survival “Bear Grylls’ style” makes me queasy at times (and causes me to question my manhood at others), I must admit that I am a fan. So the next time Jude complains that although “a urine soaked shirt keeps you cool, it sure smells wretched,” I’ll shrug my shoulders and tell him, “if you want to be like Bear Grylls, you have to take the bad with the good.”
Here’s hoping that you land on another network some day,