Bear necessities

Blame the big-haired woman. Casino kingpin Steve Wynn claims that Montecore -- the sharp-toothed beast that feasted on flamboyant illusionist Roy Horn -- was set off by the oversized 'do on a front-row spectator. As the big cat and Roy strode onto the stage at The Mirage, Montecore dropped to all fours to check out the big hair, Wynn said, setting off the events that left one-half of Siegfried & Roy in critical condition.
— New York Daily News, Oct. 10, 2003

156,000 B.C. -- The uneasy relationship between man, his hair and the big cats is established forever, in what paleontologists believe is the first recorded instance of a saber tooth tiger attacking a human being. At the center of this ignominious development is Og, a Neanderthal man who is pounced upon and killed by a ravenous tiger, in full view of his entire horrified tribe. Researchers now believe that Og had been experimenting with a simple water/mud mixture that, when rubbed into his scalp, had proven miraculous in causing his hair to stand up for hours on end. (It's considered a primitive forerunner of Dippity-Do.) Attracted by the substance's pungent, earthy smell, the animal was able to spy Og's crude spikes poking up from behind a butte. The rest, sadly, is the stiff stuff of history.

June 22, 1791 --

Attempting to flee the French Revolution, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are arrested at Varennes. Armchair historians commonly blame their capture on Marie, who is said to have refused to depart in a small, fast coach, insisting upon a larger vehicle that could hold their children as well. Not so widely known is the king's unique culpability in the events of that fateful day. His insistence upon wearing a ridiculously huge powdered wig (left over from the reign of Louis XIV) draws the attention of a curious mountain lion, which has been left to prowl about the area by an inobservant traveling circus. Fascinated by the monarch's ludicrous headgear, the animal bats the terrified royals around like toys until the even-more-bloodthirsty revolutionaries can arrive upon the scene. Louis' execution on Jan. 21, 1793, brings about war with Great Britain, setting in motion a complex chain of circumstances that will one day allow pompadour fancier Gary Glitter to log a combined 168 weeks on the pop charts.

April 14, 1961 -- The final moments of Baltimore homemaker Stacy Sekowsky's life find her engaged in a familiar behavior: walking home from the beauty parlor. Outfitted with her first-ever beehive by regular stylist Edith Mezzo, the legendarily vain Sekowsky compulsively sprays her new 'do with Aqua Net. Momentarily blinded, she strides straight into a Polish-American Day parade float that's carrying the mascot of the Pulaski High Snow Leopards. The teary-eyed critter lashes out in a confused rage, taking down Sekowsky and several of the varsity team's slower, flabbier members. The anniversary of the catastrophe is thereafter marked with an annual candlelight vigil and inspires the formation of 'Hive Alive, a public-safety effort that aims to warn the public against using aerosol products in the presence of predators.

Aug. 23, 1970 --

In a notorious interoffice memo, J. Edgar Hoover urges his field agents to "Get the Panthers!" -- an ambiguous directive that eventually leads to a tense winter standoff between a Memphis FBI operative, the fugitive Angela Davis and a real, live black panther. The confused agent attempts to calm the panther down with jive talk: Bringing to bear his exhaustive undercover training, he chants, "Be cool, baby, be cool," until the annoyed beast rips out his larynx. Upon turning its gaze to Davis' mile-high Afro, the cat becomes so completely paralyzed with fear and awe that the wanted woman is able to escape without injury.

Dec. 9, 1986 -- A senile bobcat mauls mousse-dependent "Pretty in Pink" star Jon Cryer. All sobbed out from Live Aid, a weary nation sends a card.

Oct. 15, 2003 -- Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman defends himself against charges that he interfered with the previous evening's pennant-series game against the Florida Marlins. In a hastily prepared statement, the instant pariah explains that he was not reaching to catch a foul ball, but rather was warding off a wayward cougar that was charging toward another fan in the stands. Which one? "That Bible-thumping guy with the rainbow frizz," Bartman says. According to his theory (which ESPN does not bother to repeat), the cougar had already been driven half-mad by the delicious aroma wafting off a wandering ice-cream vendor and subsequently became convinced that the red stripe running across the flamboyant fan's skull was strawberry shortcake. Informed that cats cannot see the color red, Bartman promptly sells his home and signs up for an extended tour of duty in the Peace Corps.

Oct. 21, 2003 -- Still reeling from the Roy Horn story, an ad hoc group of aging teddy boys and ushers from the Grand Ole Opry forms the Big Hair Anti-Defamation League, launching a series of protests outside the offices of follicle-basher Steve Wynn. Placards hoisted by the crowd include, "Ban cats, not conditioner," "Bald-faced liar" and "Crew cuts are for pussies." Its successful demonstrations over, the group meets in the smoking section of a Frisch's Big Boy to set its agenda and adopt an official motto. Co-opting the famous slogan, "Big hair brings you closer to God," is ruled to be in poor taste, and the suggestion is tabled until Horn is off the critical list.

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