On the trail of Mr. Bigfoot

You might have seen the news story last week: A couple of guys from Georgia told people that they had a found the body of a dead Bigfoot — and they were going to show it at a press conference, proving once and for all that such a creature really existed.

Except, it was a hoax. They finally admitted that the large, hairy carcass they had in hand was just an Internet-purchased costume that they’d stuffed with road kill so it’d be convincingly stinky-like. And so, true believers had been thwarted once again.

For decades, lots of people in our neck of the woods claim to have spotted the large, hairy beast called Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. For that to be the case, there couldn’t be just one, but hundreds of Bigfoots (or is it Bigfeets?) lumbering around the woods throughout the Northwest. (By the way, I apologize to all readers for the redundancy of the term “lumbering around the woods.” I should know better.)

Yet, in all these decades, not one such Foot — Big or otherwise — actually has been captured dead or alive or anything in between. A guy in Forks a few years ago claimed to have “heard” a Bigfoot stomping around in his backyard. When he went outside, he said the smell was “very, very bad.” Later, he said he found two sets of footprints, which he measured at 14 inches and 17 and a half inches. Was it perhaps a Bigfoot guy on a date with a Bigfoot gal? And if it was a date, why not at least slap on some cologne?

Years ago, a solitary Unabomber named Ted Kaczysnki (which is a last name that sounds like a sneeze) was hiding out in a tarpaper shack in the mountains, miles from civilization. Still, he was surrounded and arrested in no time. Meanwhile, multitudes of hairy hominids, with feet the size of canoes, have been rambling around the forest lands from Washington to Florida for decades, but nobody has quite caught up to even one of them. It seems a bit much to believe. On the other hand, who has really seen Dick Cheney for the past several years?

Perhaps the Bigfoot phenomenon really got going with the famous Patterson-Gimlin film footage from 1967. Some people think the fuzzy film simply showed a guy moving through the woods wearing a big, fakey, hairy suit. But other people say that, in fact, the real Bigfoot does look like a guy in a big, fakey, hairy suit.

I have to admit to doubts about this whole Bigfoot thing myself. That is, until three days ago when I got a phone call.

“This is an actual, what you call, Bigfoot,” said the voice on the other end. “I’m ready for an interview. But I don’t want a legitimate reporter. That’s why I called you. Meet me at the Chevron station just outside of Forks tomorrow at 10 a.m. And come alone.”

The next morning, I made the long drive past the towns of Spoons and Butter Knives, stopping in Spatula briefly for some pancakes. I arrived in Forks just before 10, as instructed. Seated on an old bench next to a wooded area behind the station was a skinny, very short fellow in a polo shirt, faded jeans and a Seattle Pilots ball cap. He waved me over. The interview began:

Me: “Wait a minute! You’re Bigfoot?”

Bigfoot: “You were expecting maybe Yogi Bear?”

Me: “You just look different than I expected, that’s all.”

Bigfoot: “I shaved. I always do when I come to town.”

Me: “And you can’t be more than 5 foot 9.”

Bigfoot: “I’m still taller than that mascot the Sonics have.”

Me: “Had.”

Bigfoot: “What, he moved out of town?”

Me: “No. But his employer did.”

Bigfoot: “Look, I just want to clear the air about a few things.”

Me: “From the smell of things, that’s not gonna happen.”

Bigfoot: “That hurts.”

Me: “Sorry. I don’t suppose you get much of a chance to shower in the woods.”

Bigfoot: “I’ll tell you what bugs me more than that. It’s the name Bigfoot. It’s mean-spirited and judgmental.”

Me: “Well, that’s probably because the only real visual evidence anybody has of you are your very huge footprints.”

Bigfoot: “So? How would you like it if I came up with a name for you based on the imprint you leave on a seat cushion?”

Me: “Fair enough.”

Suddenly, he pointed behind me and yelled, “Hey, what’s that?” I wheeled around to look, but it was a ruse. By the time I turned back around, the little guy with the oversized dogs was disappearing quickly back into the woods, shedding the clothes and ball cap along the way.

But as I turned to go back to my car, I noticed something else he had left behind: His footprints. One of them measured 14 inches. The other, 17 and a half.

• Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker.

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