Sometimes people ask me, “Hey, Mike, do you believe in Bigfoot?”
And I respond, somewhat hesitantly, because I know they’re baiting me and I don’t want to seem like a crackpot, “Yes.”
Now before you dismiss me as yet another Looney Tunes you’ll want to avoid on the bus ride to work, let me assure you that I don’t believe in every myth, fable, urban legend and rumor out there. Unicorns don’t exist except in children’s books and velvet paintings. Aliens don’t fly thousands of light years to perform routine physicals on humans. And the Loch Ness Monster probably has much more to do with scotch than Scotland. Scotland is a hard land formed from Aberdeen granite and ice water. Nobody wants to live there, not even the Scottish, let alone the descendants of a prehistoric dinosaur.
Oddly enough, however, Scotsmen are probably the best argument for the existence of Bigfoot. Most Scotsmen are big, brawny, covered head-to-toe in hair and reclusive. They often smell bad and make strange noises, too. In fact, about the only difference between the average Scotsman and Bigfoot, is that Bigfoot doesn’t drink whiskey and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a kilt, or even pants. Bigfoot is like a hairy nudist Mormon Scotsman.
There’s very little other evidence that Bigfoot exists, but people see them all the time. Unfortunately, many eyewitness accounts come from wild-eyed survivalists who live in trailers hidden in the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest, where they distill their own moonshine and write long manifestos calling for the immediate overthrow of the oppressive U.S. government. Many of these good citizens lack credibility, probably because they frequently bear a regrettable resemblance to my Uncle Earl, who fell down the stairs when he was an infant and now spends most of his free time cradled in a BarcaLounger watching cartoons and eating Pringles.
I keep hoping somebody will prove Bigfoot exists by capturing one, or least by finding a carcass. Last July, two Bigfoot hunters named Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton sparked a global media frenzy when they claimed they’d dragged the body of a dead Bigfoot out of a forest in northern Georgia and preserved it in a freezer. An out-of-focus video of the “body” was viewed thousands of times on YouTube, but it turned out to be a cheesy Halloween costume available for about $99 on Amazon.com. It was another disappointing hoax, and for all I know, Dyer, a former prison guard, and Whitton, a former cop, ended up spending the Christmas holidays in jail with a lot of big, hairy men who were probably even scarier and less sociable than Bigfoot.
There is a smattering of anthropological and scientific support for Bigfoot’s existence, of course.
Tales about oversized hairy ape-like creatures abound in almost all indigenous cultures worldwide, including among Native Americans here and in Canada, which is remote enough to hide large herds of Bigfoot. Or Bigfoots. Or Bigfeets. Whatever. Bigfoot enthusiasts don’t have to use proper grammar. Some of them can barely talk.
But not Sir Edmund Hillary.
Yes, that Hillary.
The well-spoken adventurer was scaling Mount Everest in 1953 when he and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay (my favorite Sherpa name), discovered footprints that appeared to have been made by a Yeti, Bigfoot’s smaller but equally elusive mountain cousin. On another climbing expedition in 1960, Hillary found some unusual, unidentifiable hairs linked decades later to another purported Yeti hair find. Hillary remained a Knight of the realm and staunch Yeti skeptic until his death last year. But he was also rich and well respected, so aficionados like me feel obliged to mention him authoritatively whenever we discuss Bigfoot.
“You don’t believe in Bigfoot, Mr. Smarty-pants? Well, Sir Edmund Hillary found evidence of Yeti in the Himalayas, not once, but twice. And he’s Sir Edmund Hillary, not my Uncle Earl, so that proves there’s something to the whole Bigfoot thing!”
There is no direct physical evidence of Bigfoot, not a single authenticated strand of hair or scoopful of scat. I admit that’s puzzling, mostly because it seems like a creature with the appetite and hairdo of a Wookie ought to produce plenty of both. But many people have stumbled on giant humanoid footprints, hence Bigfoot’s name, and some scientists believe some of the prints may be bona fide, which is virtually proof positive that Bigfoot exists, as far as its fans are concerned.
Bigfoot has also been filmed and videotaped, of course. Nothing escapes the camera’s eye these days.
Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin shot the most famous footage of Bigfoot in 1967 near Bluff Creek, Calif. Their encounter lasts less than 2 minutes, but has been the subject of countless films and TV specials about Sasquatch. Amateurs and experts around the world have sliced, diced and chopped the 16mm film frame-by-frame, viewing it more times than the infamous footage of President Kennedy’s assassination and generating about as much controversy as the second-shooter theory.
In the film, Bigfoot is shown ambling through the woods at a pretty good clip when it turns and glares at Patterson with what he later described as an expression of “contempt and disgust.”
I watched the clip, and I agree with him; Bigfoot is pissed off. I think I know why, too. It’s my opinion that the creature is female, and that she’s taking a walk because she’s got a chunky rump and is trying to slim down for an upcoming wedding or beach vacation. I believe she’s ticked off because she didn’t want her picture taken. The camera adds 10 pounds, and Ms. Sasquatch is full-figured enough. Whatever that creature is, it sits on a lot of cushion. Bigfoot got back. Bigfoot could star in a Sir-Mix-A-Lot rap video. Bigfoot or Bigbutt? Watch the video and decide for yourself which name seems more appropriate.
Not surprisingly, scientists disagree about whether the large, ape-like creature in the footage is a Bigfoot or a man wearing a well-made ape costume. Scientists are always arguing about evidence and proof and facts and tedious stuff that can deflate a party faster than a midnight police raid. But that footage, coupled with eerie sound recordings and other evidence collected over the years, led field biologist George Schaller, primate expert John Napier and anthropologist Jane Goodall, among other prominent eggheads, to argue that Bigfoot evidence deserves more study.
I couldn’t agree more.
If you also agree, and you’d like Bigfoot sightings to receive serious investigation, please send $100 right now to help me launch a new website, WilltheRealBigfootPleaseStandUp.com. Once it’s established and adequately funded, I will personally work very hard to see that the Bigfoot mystery gets solved by taking lots of vacations expeditions to places like the Pacific Northwest and Scotland, which appears to be the home of the missing link between Bigfoot and normal humans.
Bigfoot or Bust!