Here’s something I think about: If a creature such as Bigfoot exists, why haven’t we found him yet? Why hasn’t any hard evidence supported his existence? No dwelling, no tracks, no scat piles one could look at and think, Wow. That is one weird-looking pile of scat. Nothing. And yet, people continue to believe that a creature such as Bigfoot either was or is alive, possibly living in the mountains of western North Carolina.
I am one of those people.
Take a moment and look at an aerial map of western North Carolina. Look how green it is; look how rocky. Don’t you think it’s possible that there’s a place in there somewhere for a very old, half-man, half-beast cave-dweller who’s smart enough to realize that life as he knows it would be over if he (or she) ever allowed himself to be caught? Sure you do. Do you think mountaineering explorers have traveled every inch of this territory looking for this creature? No, you don’t. These thoughts don’t prove he exists, of course, but they do prove one thing: He could. He might. You can’t know for sure.
I feel sorry for the guy. I wish he had a different name. Bigfoot. Couldn’t we come up with a name comparable to his cold-weather buddy the Yeti? Yeti is magnificent, mysterious, beautiful; Bigfoot is plain, offensive, stupid. Why couldn’t we just stick with Sasquatch? Bigfoot. Are his feet really that big? Are they so big that they become his most outstanding characteristic? He has other qualities that, to me, stand out more, such as being half-man, half-beast. How disappointed I would be if that were my name — Bigfoot Wallace. If my name were Bigfoot, and if that’s how people thought of me, I would hide away, too. I’d be humiliated. I’d try to make people think I didn’t exist.
I vote for his existence. I can’t prove it, but I believe in it all the same. The world used to be full of myths and mythic creatures; before science began explaining everything, we understood the world in terms of story. When the wind blew, Zeus was sneezing (or something like that). Now we know it’s a low-pressure system. Which do you prefer? It would be much more interesting if weathermen told the forecasts in the form of American folktales. Sun’s going to be so bright today that the squirrels might well go blind. So hot you might want to dig a hole, pack it full of ice, and hold out there for the duration.
Those days are gone, though, and all we have left is Bigfoot. Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster, the Himalayas have the Yeti, we have him. People have spotted him, on occasion. They took pictures, as late as 2007, of a creature that looked a lot like Bigfoot might look. Cryptozoologists (my new favorite job) believe it might be Bigfoot in those photos; others think it’s a bear with mange. Those who believe and want to be a part of the Bigfoot world can join BFRO: Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. The group has expeditions planned for this fall, and one is in North Carolina. I doubt they’ll find him, though. If Bigfoot has his own Facebook page (and he does), don’t you think he knows we’re coming?
Daniel Wallace is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Follow him on Twitter, @DHWallace, or visit danielwallace.org for more drawing, writing, and news.