Andrew and I were at dinner with some friends who introduced us to a Discovery Channel favorite: Man vs. Wild where one can see the manliest hero since Jack Bauer: Bear Grylls. What can you say about a man with a name like that? I think I'll just quote from his info page at the Discovery Channel:
Bear served three years with a special forces unit of the British army where he broke his back in three places parachuting over Southern Africa. Bear went on to become the youngest British climber to complete a summit and descent of Mount Everest and wrote about his experience in the book, The Kid Who Climbed Everest. Bear and his Everest climbing group circumnavigated the United Kingdom on jet skis. He also led the first unassisted crossing of the frozen North Atlantic in an open rigid inflatable boat. His book about this adventure, Facing the Frozen Ocean, was shortlisted as the U.K.'s "Sports Book of the Year." Bear broke a world record by hosting a dinner party at a table suspended below a hot air balloon at 24,500 feet. He rappelled from the balloon's basket to the table, where in full naval uniform he ate a three-course meal before saluting the queen and skydiving to earth. In May 15, 2007, Bear set another world record when he became the first person to fly over Mount Everest by powered paraglider.
So basically, this is the guy James Bond pretends to be when he wants to feel cool. Bear Grylls has got a show where he gets dumped in various locales around the earth and has five days to find his way back to civilization with only the aid of a knife, a flint and a bottle of spaghetti sauce. Kind of a MacGuyer-meets-Survivor thing.
So with our awe over the absolute manliness of this modern super hero, the dinner table conversation last week turned to places we'd like to see Bear Grylls dumped.
1. The middle of the Bering Sea. This shouldn't be too hard for someone who's crossed the frozen North Atlantic. I'd even let him try it in summer--it's not as if the water is much warmer then anyway. All he'd have to do to power his boat is hang his legs off the back and kick, he's that manly. I dare any shark to even attempt to eat him.
2. The middle of the Sahara. It's probably been done but why not? Burning sand, angry Arabs, no water or food--that makes for some prime-time excitement. He'd probably figure out a way to drill for water using only his bare hands, some chewing gum and the zipper pulls from his cargo pants.
3. Washington D.C. But this one, this one I don't know about. Have you ever tried to find your way around Arlington, Virginia? I think the city is made so confusing as a help to the Secret Service--they figure if everyone gets lost then the terrorists have that much less chance of a successful attack. I don't know if even Bear Grylls could navigate his way through that twisted, mismarked (or unmarked) maze of streets. Not in five days. He'd die for sure.
4. Antarctica. I'd like to see him in the middle of a giant penguin huddle, shuffling and moving around to keep warm. But I don't know that the world is ready to see him warding off starvation by making a penguin-egg omelet. Not after the cute-and-fluffy March of the Penguins, it just wouldn't fly.
5. Our neighbor's garage. I guarantee this is the spot on earth most likely to stump Mr. Grylls. Everest, the North Atlantic, nowhere could there be a more dangerous and inhospitable spot than this. I've seen it and I know. Piled to the ceiling with boxes and junk, every corner stuffed with toys and debris, drop him there and he'd never find his way out alive--though there may be plenty of life forms hidden in the corners for him to subsist on for five days.
6. L.A. traffic. Forget making it through the Amazonian rain forests, put this guy in the middle of the Ventura Freeway at rush hour and he's not going anywhere. And not only would he starve to death but he'd also run out of gas.
7. Bear-infested country. With a name like Bear it's only natural that he go up against the world's largest land carnivore: the polar bear. Or even worse, because they have trees to hide behind, the Kodiak brown bear. That would be something pretty amazing, to see Bear Grylls dumped in the middle of Bear Country, and I don't mean Disneyland. Could he make it five days and not get eaten? I certainly hope so, and I'd make sure to Tivo that one.
8. Any mall in America, the day after Thanksgiving. The ultimate in survival. If any man could make it through, Bear's the one.
9. A busy airport. There have been times at the airport that I've worried that I'd be trapped for five days, shuffling through security and ticketing lines until I'm ready to drop dead with exhaustion. And they don't even feed you on the planes anymore, so Bear's skills at scavenging food such as grubs and sheep eyeballs would come in handy. As a final climax he could make it to the plane and then have to sit on the runway for an extra day with some mind-numbing delay just to see how he'd handle the strain of sitting next to an extra- large man schlopping over into his seat.
10. The moon. This might be a bit tougher, especially with the five-day time limit but if the guys on Apollo 13 could do it, so could Bear Grylls. He probably wouldn't even need oxygen, he'd be able to scavenger his own somewhere along the way. "If I just collect these moonstones and compress them like so it forces the pockets of oxygen hidden within them to rise to the surface. It isn't perfect but it's just enough to get me back to earth."
11. Gilligan's Island. That's the way to get those people off the island. Drop Bear Grylls in for a visit, he'd have them off and back to the mainland by the first commercial break.
12. Wherever the latest Survivor edition is being held. Likewise, he could teach the goofballs on this show what real survival is. Maybe ABC should consider parachuting him into the next episode of Lost and for no extra fee he could rescue those people too . . .
13. The Middle East. If the U.S. Government were smart, they'd drop Bear Grylls into an undisclosed location in Pakistan and not only would he make it out alive and healthy, he'd bring back Osama with him. He's that cool.
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