• Join marketing executive Hannah as she sets off on a romantic adventure with Bear Grylls. (SBS)Source: SBS
Hannah never thought she'd ditch her deadbeat boyfriend for a British dreamboat survivalist. Until now.
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1 Jun 2017 - 1:52 PM  UPDATED 9 Feb 2018 - 9:33 AM

A Bear for All Seasons

 Chapter One

Hannah sat on the plane, typing on her work laptop. She was supposed to be on vacation, but there were too many fires to put out back at the office, where she was in charge of the marketing department of Chevron Australia.

How could she think about work at a time like this? She was on her way to Hawaii to get engaged to her boyfriend of 15 years, Brian. Growing up in Sydney, all she ever dreamed of was working in marketing and marrying a boyfriend she had been living with for a long time to the point where they were extremely comfortable with each other. So comfortable that Brian had somehow arranged to upgrade himself to a Business Class ticket while Hannah was forced to stay in Economy. But that’s what she loved about their relationship. They could be themselves.

Of course, she had been wrong before about Brian’s proposal intentions on other trips. Tahiti… Laos… Ecuador… they all went by without a single marriage mention.

Nevertheless, she thought, this could be the one. The idea made her bite her lower lip. It was something super cute that she did when she got excited that made her seem extremely cute and likable.

“Jesus, will you stop biting your lower lip? It’s disgusting. You’re gnawing on that thing like it’s a gummy bear.”

Hannah turned. It was Brian, wearing the Business Class robe and slippers and sipping champagne.

Brian wasn’t what most people would call good looking. He had an enormous head and curiously flat face, where it looked like a Dali painting had been laid out. His eyes were tiny and his mouth was enormous. He had very few teeth and refused to wear dentures. He also had a double chin – but not because he was overweight. The chins were spread out sideways, pointing in opposite directions.

Brian wasn’t what most people would call good looking. He had an enormous head and curiously flat face, where it looked like a Dali painting had been laid out. His eyes were tiny and his mouth was enormous. He had very few teeth and refused to wear dentures. He also had a double chin – but not because he was overweight. The chins were spread out sideways, pointing in opposite directions.

And yet there was something that drew Hannah to him. An uncommon confidence maybe.

“Sorry babe,” Hannah said. “I’m just so excited about our trip. I just don’t want to do anything that involves too much nature. You know how I get. So if you’ve got something planned…”

“I’m really just hoping to get a lot of alone time, butterbottom,” Brian said.

The stranger seated next to her perked up. “Do you guys want to sit together?”

“Absolutely not,” Brian said and went back to Business, where Hannah (and the whole plane) could hear him shout, “More champagne! Does that curtain lock? If I have to lay eyes on any of that rabble back there I’m going to be sick!”

-----

When they arrived at the hotel in Waikiki, after Hannah had been forced to carry all the suitcases (she brought one; Brian brought three), Brian was his usual, assertive self.

“I want the sheets tucked under the mattress extremely tight,” he hissed at the concierge. “I don’t want to breathe under there. And I want chocolates strewn all over the floor so it hurts to walk around. And don’t mess around with the lighting – I want seven lamps added to each room in the suite. And I’ll need a smoke machine. For romance.”

Brian winked at the concierge. There was that confidence.

Hannah raised her hand. “Um, I wonder if I could request something.”

Brian rolled his eyes. “Oh God, will you give it a rest? What? What? What do you need?”

“I was just hoping that there would be no, um bugs, or plants or you know crazy nature around.”

“She hates nature, if you can believe it,” Brian said.

“You might have a hard time enjoying the natural beauty of the island then,” the concierge said.

“Oh, I’m not planning to enjoy any of that. I’ll be staying inside.”

Hannah had always been uncomfortable in nature. It may have had something to do with the fact that she had been trapped in a mudslide, avalanche and volcano eruption for months on separate, non consecutive occasions.

Hannah had always been uncomfortable in nature. It may have had something to do with the fact that she had been trapped in a mudslide, avalanche and volcano eruption for months on separate, nonconsecutive occasions.

“We’ll do what we can,” the concierge said as Brian made the “she’s nuts” motion with his finger and laughed.

Brian’s laugh always made Hannah slightly uncomfortable. It was an extremely high pitched version of Ursula’s in The Little Mermaid that shook his entire body. And it was usually accompanied by a creepy disco dance and a great deal of air punching and sometimes a bit of breakdancing. He was, after all, a real Aussie bloke.

Hannah’s usual grimace was interrupted by the doors of the lobby suddenly blowing open…

“These women need help!”

In marched a man carrying three bikini-clad women, who were holding on to him for dear life. Maybe it was the jet lag, but Hannah could swear the man seemed to be floating. He was bathed in sunlight from behind, so she couldn’t make out his face, but she certainly made out his muscular, superhero-like physique.

In marched a man carrying three bikini-clad women, who were holding on to him for dear life. Maybe it was the jet lag, but Hannah could swear the man seemed to be floating. He was bathed in sunlight from behind, so she couldn’t make out his face, but she certainly made out his muscular, superhero-like physique.

“Hey pumpkinhead, quit daydreaming. We have to get to the room before all the chocolate melts.”

Hannah looked at Brian, then looked for the man. But he was gone.

-----

Hannah stood in front of the mirror. This was going to be the night, she told herself. She and Brian had a dinner reservation at the fanciest restaurant at the resort. She had made it, of course, but Brian had a look that told her he was about to do something big and special.

“Do you remember this dress, babe?” she said. “You said you liked it and wanted to buy it for me? And then you asked to borrow the money and actually never repaid it… which, well…”

There was no response.

“Babe?”

Hannah walked into the bathroom, where Brian normally took his pre-dinner snack. There was no sign of him.

She looked behind the curtains, where Brian would often hide, nude, for days.

She found him in the bedroom, passed out on the bed, an empty bottle of gin tucked under one arm and a live chicken nestled under the other.

“Brian?”

“Brian!”

Brian grunted. The chicken clucked. This was going nowhere.

“I see. You’d rather get drunk with a chicken than take me out to dinner and… and… be happy for the rest of our lives…”

Hannah stormed out of the suite, a single tear rolled down her pretty face…

-----

That same tear, still finding its way down Hannah’s cheek, eventually dropped into her Mai Tai. She was at the bar. Alone. Again. She looked around. There were no fewer than 35 proposals in progress in the bar area.

“I hope this place burns to the ground,” Hannah said, skulling her cocktail. “I’ll take two more Mai Tais, please. And one Bahama Mama.”

“You’ve already had six cocktails, ma’am,” the bartender said.

“Thanks for the numbers lesson, professor. Now are you going to give me that Bahama Mama or do I have to beat it out of you?”

Hannah reached out for the bartender’s shirt, missed and fell off her chair. She braced herself for impact with the floor, but it never came.

She looked around her – she had been saved by a pair of muscular arms. Her eyes followed the arms, which were covered in tattoos of famous women’s rights advocates – Germaine Greer, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B Anthony, etc – up to the shoulders and neck and then the face...

She looked around her – she had been saved by a pair of muscular arms. Her eyes followed the arms, which were covered in tattoos of famous women’s rights advocates – Germaine Greer, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B Anthony, etc – up to the shoulders and neck and then the face...

Hannah’s mouth hung agape. It was the man from the lobby earlier. She could now clearly see his face, which looked like it had been chiseled from marble, like an ancient Greek statue. This guy was seriously handsome. Ryan Gosling looked like a common bush pig compared to this natural wonder. Seriously, you could cut glass with those cheekbones. And the teeth? Bright as the Bondi sun, without all the tourists.

He wore a Hawaiian shirt, which somehow accentuated his chest and shoulders. It wasn’t buttoned up all the way, leaving an opening that called out to her: “Jump on in, the chest hair is very soft.”

“My name is Bear. Bear Grylls.”

“I bet it is,” Hannah said.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Lioness. Lioness Stovetop.”

“Really?”

“No. That’s a joke.”

Bear laughed and it sounded like a song. A manly song of adventure and sensitivity and understanding. Who was this guy?

“Do you mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“So polite.”

“If you can’t be polite and respectful to someone, you should be put in prison. That’s just the code I live by.”

“That’s quite a code.” Hannah bit her lower lip.

“I love that you’re doing that right now. Biting your lower lip. I think it’s cute and charismatic. You must be very well liked and the envy of all your friends.”

“Yes, of course,” she said. “Like most people who drink and cry in hotel bars, I am extremely popular.”

“You’ve got a wicked sense of humour and the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. Majestic like the Sphinx, which I have climbed. Or Mount Rushmore, which I have also climbed.”

“You’re saying my face looks like rocks.”

“I’m saying you have the kind of beauty that makes a man set out up a mountain in search of himself. I’m saying that your warm aura feels like a place where a man can find some much needed shelter after a Class 6 river rapids course. I also love that dress.”

Hannah was speechless. Was he real? What was in those Bahama Mamas?

A drunken voice called out, “Hannah! Hannah where are you?! Have you seen my chicken?!”

Everyone in the bar laughed. Hannah hung her head. Brian stepped in front of Bear.

“Hannah, I’ve been looking all over for you for the last few seconds and I almost gave up. We have to find that chicken. It… knows things. We have to find it before it goes to the papers!”

Brian grabbed Hannah and led her away. But she never lost Bear’s gaze as he whispered her name... Hannah.

End of Chapter One

 

Follow Nick Bhasin, the author of this prized fan fiction, on Twitter.

Watch the Ben Stiller episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls at SBS On Demand:

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