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End of the semester, here are some random essays:

Topic: Harry and the Hendersons

I have an irrational fear of Bigfoot.

This is an unfortunate truth about myself that I have learned to accept, like my affinity for 90's dance pop (Ace of Base), distrust of red-haired children (thanks, Child's Play), and the vicious bloodlust that pumps through my veins when a child in Heelies crashes into me at a grocery store (this is Publix, not a goddamn roller rink). My whole life has been colored by my fear of the mythical ape-man, from ill-fated camping excursions (which always end in me cowering in my tent, slightly nauseous and noting every cracked twig and rustle of tree limbs with the fervor of a paranoid schizophrenic), to the cold pit of dread that forms in my belly when the Silverback gorilla at the zoo stares at me through the glass with its cold devil eyes. It's just another ridiculous trinket to add to my charm bracelet of neuroses, wedged between porcelain dolls and looking out of windows at night; more ammunition to add to my family and friend's arsenal of things they can make fun of me about.

I don't actually remember watching Harry and the Hendersons. My brain has self-censored itself, autonomously deciding that this is too traumatic an incident to deal with on a conscious level, but through a series of educated guesses I have deduced that Harry and the Hendersons is in fact the origin of my fear.

My fear isn't completely unfounded. I grew up in a relatively rural part of Florida, my house situated on the peak of a steep incline, and the land around the house was densely forested. My backyard was swamplike and the rainy season brought inevitable flooding, dredging up a litany of snakes, odd looking fish, and in one instance a fully-grown, agitated alligator, and depositing them mere feet from my back porch. The summer that the swamp coughed up an alligator I was 6 and distinctly remember watching my grandfather, uncle, and two Animal Control officers through the kitchen window, standing 30 feet from the unfazed alligator, at a complete loss of what to do. The reason I bring this up is that at that moment I realized that if an alligator can thrive undetected in my own backyard for God knows how long, it is completely plausible that Bigfoot could do the same.

And so began the series of recurring nightmares that lasted maybe 5 years. In the dream (which was always the same), it is my birthday and I am celebrating with my two best friends. As I open my presents, chattering excitedly to my guests, I hear a resounding thump. Everyone in the room pauses, shrugs it off, and resumes talking. The thump returns, this time picking up the cadence of thundering footsteps. I look out of the window and lurching down the dusty dirt road is Bigfoot, heavy human-shaped feet pounding down on the packed soil with punishing force. My friends and I scatter. One of them runs to the bathroom to hide in the shower, the other to the hallway closet. For reasons I still don't understand I hide directly underneath the window, pressed against the wall, desperately hoping that the ape won't see me. The last thing I remember from the dream is an abrupt perspective shift: During the whole episode, I'm viewing things from a subjective point of view. However, in the last moment I am wrenched out of my own body and into a third-person POV. I can see myself pressed flat against the wall, eyes wild with fear. Through the window above me, Bigfoot is hunched over, palms pressed against the glass, gazing inside. (I got chills typing that just now.)

I don't know what I would do if ever encountered Bigfoot. I've thought about it before, while driving down winding, deserted country roads at 2am. What if Bigfoot walked out in front of my car? What if I hit him? Would I stop to make sure he's okay? It's in my nature to stop and try to help whatever it is that I've managed to maime with my car, but I'm pretty sure I would make an exception re: Bigfoot and just floor it, crying hysterically and vowing to never leave the sanctity of my home ever again. It would probably ruin my life and I would deteriorate to the status of Agoraphobic Cat Lady even faster than originally planned, spending the entire third decade of my life stockpiling bags of cat litter and fearfully peeking out from behind my drapes, forever anticipating a confrontation with the crytozoological conundrum.

My fear isn't based on the theory that Bigfoot does in fact exist. To be honest, I don't really care if he exists or not. It's the idea that something bigger, scarier, and undetected could be hiding in the shadows, just out of eyesight. I don't care if Harry was the protagonist in Harry and the Hendersons, or that I've seemed to miss the point of the film completely and walked away with the exact opposite viewpoint than the director intended. My fear is purely hypothetical: If Bigfoot is out there, what else is hiding in the dark?


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December 2009

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