I’m not saying I believe in Sasquatch. Then again, I’m not saying I don’t.
I hardly ever give him a thought until I see a Jack Link’s Jerky “Messin’ with Sasquatch” commercial. You know the ones. A bunch of cocky twenty-something-year-olds are messing around in the woods—munching, of course, on handfuls of beef jerky–when they happen upon a huge, ape-like figure. Completely unintimidated, they begin to tease him. They shake up a canned Coke and let it spew in his face. They pretend to offer him a ride in their Jeep. They convince him to lick a frozen flagpole.
Then they get what’s coming to them. Hooray for Sasquatch!
Truth be told, I haven’t ever actually seen the hairy humanoid myself. I’ve never even happened upon his twenty-four inch footprints. Maybe that’s because I live so far from the Pacific Northwest, where—thousands of years ago–prehistoric Sasquatches crossed the land bridge that once joined North America and Siberia.
Their descendents have been hiding in the forests there ever since.
At least that’s what cryptozoologists are trying to prove. Or disprove, as the case may be. They’re scientists who study animals that may or may not exist and which are known only from eyewitness accounts. Cryptozoologists seek to separate myth from fact when it comes to legendary creatures like Sasquatch (also known as Bigfoot) or the Loch Ness monster or the Abominable Snowman.
They spend hours listening to accounts similar to ones a woman right here in Putnam County told me many years ago. She was convinced that Sasquatch existed in middle Tennessee because something was stealing meat out of a freezer in her basement. Though she’d never actually caught the ape-man in the act, she knew he was the culprit for two reasons. First, she’d noticed giant footprints on the dirt path leading to the basement door. Second, and more important, meat was the only thing taken from the freezer.
Though I’m not a cryptozoologist or any other kind of scientist, I have to question the second assumption. Where is it written that Sasquatch only eats meat? Real apes are predominantly herbivores. Assuming that Sasquatch is a hybrid, why would he be exclusively carnivorous?
And what kind of halfway intelligent creature would prefer frozen hamburger to frozen blackberries? (Unless, of course, he had a gas grill squirreled away somewhere and was planning a cookout with a bunch of his friends.) More than that, how could he ignore a half-gallon of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream and steal a package of store-brand hot dogs instead?
It’s just not logical.
Then again, nobody has ever claimed that a fascination with Sasquatch is logical. That’s what so fun about him. And so fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that dozens of books have been written about him over the past century. A quick check of amazon.com showed more books with “Sasquatch” or “Bigfoot” in the title than I would have ever imagined. Three in particular caught my eye, all by Canadian illustrator Graham Roumieu: “Bigfoot: I Not Dead,” “Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir” and “In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot.” If anybody gives me an amazon gift certificate any time soon, I know what I’m ordering.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to stroll the woods of Tennessee, munching on dried beef and keeping a sharp eye out for unusually large footprints. But you can bet that if I happen upon a ten-foot tall, 500-pound hairy creature, I won’t give him a fizzed-up Coke or try to coax him into licking a frozen flagpole.
I’ll just hand him my sack of Jack Link’s Jerky and run as fast as I can.
(April 17, 2011)