If You’re Reading This…

How acute ursaphobia (fear of bears) affects Ralph Gamelli’s life.

Dear Friends,

If you’re reading this, I’m dead.

You might ask why I’d bother to write a farewell letter before going out for a simple bike ride, but I had a strange premonition that I wouldn’t be coming back, due either to a serious fall, or a collision with a reckless driver, or, more likely, some form of bear attack. (There’s a patch of woods on Castle Road just large enough to harbor a ravenous bear, so I assume that’ll be the spot where my number comes up.)

If you’re wondering why I still intend to go riding, all I can say is that I refuse to live in fear. You have to go out there and take life by the horns, even if that means going for a leisurely ride around the neighborhood on a pleasant summer evening and pedaling extra hard past the woods on Castle Road.

My love and affection to you all.


Dear Friends,

If you’re reading this, I never made it back from work. I can only surmise that my car broke down during my commute, and while peering helplessly under the hood, I was savagely mauled and subsequently devoured by a bear… or quite possibly an entire family of bears.

This news may come as quite a shock to you, but not to me, which is why I had this note prepared in anticipation of my grisly fate. (That wasn’t meant as a pun; although the Griz represents a constant danger, I feel it’s far more likely to be a black or brown bear that ultimately feasts on me.)

You see, the route to the office takes me along several country roads, which, as any wildlife expert will tell you, are far more likely to be the site of a bear attack than a more urban setting, such as a town square or freeway off-ramp. But I needed no wildlife expert to tell me something terrible was going to happen today, and that the terrible something would involve a rampaging bear.

I’d like to take this opportunity to let each and every one of you know just how much you mean to me, that you must not take anything for granted in this life, and that I’ve always sort of suspected, deep down, I would end up suffering a horrific, bear-related death.


Dear Friends,

If you’re reading this, it means I was set upon by a bear while attempting to take my trash to the curb. (It’s common knowledge that bears will seek out scraps of food from the garbage, and that, if they get the chance, will pounce on anyone with a Hefty bag in his hands, even if that person heard a twig snap somewhere and is sprinting back to the house as fast as possible.)

Please don’t grieve for me. I knew the risks, yet chose to take life by the horns and carry out that trash knowing full well it spelled certain doom.


Dear Friends,

If you’re reading this, I’m dead.

You didn’t know it, but some time ago I came across three separate wildlife documentaries in less than a week, and for a while there I’d been obsessed about encountering a man-eating bear. I even went to the extreme of writing farewell letters each and every time I left the house, which were to be read upon the event of my inevitable death by bear. Thinking back on it, it all seems so incredibly foolish, and paranoid, and even a bit funny, now that I’ve been ripped to shreds by a ferocious mountain lion.

Illustrations by Hallie Bateman

Ralph Gamelli is of average height, weight, and intelligence, and requires the average amount of time to grow a respectable mustache. His ability to write an interesting bio, however, is far below average.