Not Your Momma’s Tall Tales: Paul Bunyan

I love Tall Tales. They’re like history channel specials as directed by Michael Bay. It’s no surprise that the figures portrayed in these stories come from harrowing professions. Cowboy, sea captain, railroad spike hitter, hippie tree planter I guess? But of all the professions, logging has probably the greatest potential for producing tall tales. Seriously, it’s a bunch of dudes chopping down giant ass trees with hand axes and sometimes those giant saws you see hanging in frontier themed log cabin inns. Yes, logging has a long, proud history in America and nothing demonstrates that storied, masculine tradition more than Lumbersexuals. And also Paul Bunyan, the greatest, biggest logger that ever lived. So let me tell you about the very first Lumbersexual, Paul “Godzilla” Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan was born in Maine, making him the most interesting thing to ever come from there. He was already a giant at birth, with a beard and everything. Don’t worry, his mother didn’t push that monster out of her, five giant storks delivered him to his parents. Presumably, some giant family received a tiny human baby in the mix-up who became their version of Tom Thumb. Paul Bunyan was a huge baby. His mother had to comb his beard with a pine tree. World’s strongest woman Mrs. Bunyan also rocked little Paul to sleep in a lumber wagon and fed him with a bottle filled with two dozen cow’s worth of milk!

Course, having a baby that big caused a lot of problems and the Bunyan family had to pack up and leave when complaints started to pile up. Some say they moved to Minnesota, others that they only went a little ways inland toward the Ohio Valley. Whatever the case, Paul Bunyan grew up into a huge motherfucker and became a lumberjack probably because he hated how often trees kept hitting him in the face with their branches during his afternoon strolls.

One winter, it was so cold that people’s scrotums retracted into their abdomens and whatever the lady version of that is. It was so cold that bears went into double hibernation like some kind of bear Inception. It was so cold even the T-2000 called it quits and waited for spring before asking anyone if they’d “seen this boy”. It was really cold, is what I’m saying. Paul Bunyan didn’t give a shit, though, because he was out there in that world ending snowpocalypse doing Paul Bunyan things. While he was walking out in the blue snow (blue on account of how cold it was) he came upon a tiny mound of snow that snorted at him. Thinking this was odd, Paul Bunyan reached into the snow pack and pulled out a baby ox. Even for a baby, the ox was pretty dang big, and it was so cold its whole body had turned blue too. Paul Bunyan was no doctor, but even he knew what hypothermia looked like, so he took the baby ox home with him and warmed it up by the fire. Even though he nursed the baby ox back to health it retained its blue color, leading some to speculate that the ox was an avatar of Vishnu or some shit. Flexing his creative muscles, Paul Bunyan decided to name the baby blue ox, Babe the Blue Ox. The two became fast friends and Babe never left Paul Bunyan’s side.

Paul Bunyan met Johnny Appleseed once. Rather than an epic WWE style clash between competing philosophies like everyone wanted, the two got along okay. Even though he didn’t have to because, you know, fucking Paul Bunyan, he decided to brag to Johnny about his exploits, how he chopped down like a million trees once and built a railroad all by himself and so on. Johnny wasn’t impressed, as is usually the case with listless hippie types, and told the giant with the fucking giant axe as much. They should have called him Johnny “Huge Brass Balls” Appleseed. Paul Bunyan learned a valuable lesson I guess and Johnny Appleseed may have turned Paul’s axe into an oak tree or something, but after all that enlightened nonsense, Paul Bunyan went right back to killing trees across the country.

But even Paul Bunyan wasn’t immune to the unceasing march of time and one day a man of industry came to the woods with an impressive tree chopping machine that could beat any logger on either side of the Mississippi. Of course Paul Bunyan was like, “Fuck this shit,” and challenged the business man/inventor/playboy/philanthropist to a logging competition. Whoever had more wood at the end would be the champion (ladies…) and the loser would eat his weight in donkey balls.

The sun rose on a pristine, undefiled, just asking to be chopped forest. The two readied themselves. The starting gun was fired and the logging race began! The two were tied, with Paul Bunyan pulling ahead! But slowly, very slowly, the business man caught up. Then they were neck and neck. For a whole day they chopped. The environment was devastated, whole ecosystems destroyed, and at least one species woodchuck was made extinct. The unborn spirit of Al Gore cried recyclable, carbon neutral tears of shame.

Finally the day ended and the wood was piled up high and measured. The business man won by an inch. After making the obvious dick joke, Paul Bunyan demanded a recount. But the facts were facts and Paul was the loser. Hanging his head low, he grabbed his giant axe and disappeared from tall tale history. Some say Paul still lives, somewhere way up north where there aren’t any trees to chop. There he “wrestles” with his “pet” ox, Babe, rocking and shaking the glaciers of the Arctic causing the Aurora Borealis. And that’s why the ice caps are melting and Santa hasn’t delivered any presents for two hundred years.

Some Fun Paul Bunyan Facts:

Paul Bunyan’s mess hall was so big it took a week to pass the salt. Many lumberjacks died of starvation in Paul Bunyan’s camp.

Paul Bunyan’s skillet was so huge he needed a dozen guys to skate on it with shoes made of butter before he could cook. Good thing Paul Bunyan wasn’t a cannibal. Probably.

Paul Bunyan beat Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, and Yao Ming in a 3v1 dunking match.

Paul Bunyan once made sweet sweet love to Lady Liberty. And that’s a fact.

Paul Bunyan was the greatest lumberjack that ever did live and don’t you forget it!

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