Chapter 19: Youthful Passions
Adam's school years passed tediously. His grades were always
unimpressive, just adequate for passing, he was uninterested in
school. The only vital connection for him there was the music.
He had continued classical guitar lessons with Frank Espino for
several years, Steve Bonneville taught him many Blues and
Bluegrass tunes. He was playing in the school band until he
got too embarrassed about his size to get up in front of people--
the music wasn't that good either, the most noticeable thing
about the band was the Big Bigfoot.
He took up chorus, hoping to blend in with the other voices, but
that put him even more in the spotlight. For as Adam's voice
matured it became lower and lower until it was deeper than bass,
and the power and tone he generated carried out above all the
other voices, distinguished further by a very sweet tone. He
could really sing.
The music instructor became very excited and gave Adam all sorts
of lead pieces to sing, with the choir as backup for his powerful
voice. Adam was not into it, he wanted to hide, not be a star--
and yet, he had to have the music.
The school did a musical talent show every year and Adam had a
starring part among the 60 other singers. They performed Ave
Maria and it was stunning to hear Adam's super-bass bearing
the words that were usually sung by a soprano. But that was not
the kind of music he wanted to make.
Most of his summer vacations were spent out at Naked Lake. People
used to nudity weren't so critical about perfect bodies and the
regulars were also used to him, so he was comfortable there. But
he never went to public beaches any more, where crowds of strangers
would stare at his huge hairy body.
He also went on camping trips with Pokey and Juan. I drove them up
to Canyon Creek near Granite Falls and left them there for a week.
Adam enjoyed those trips, feeling comfortable in the wildest
nature, although he had to have his guitar along. Another year it
was up on the Tolt River. They got lost in the woods that time,
for a day, but came out of it feeling like heroes for having
Adam also survived junior high and went on to Monroe High School.
He was a student while I was also teaching English there, so we
saw each other a lot. We both enjoyed that, but were careful not
to make too big a show about it or overdraw on our relationship as
father and son. I made certain that Adam was not in any of my
classes, for example.
Adam had been nervous about starting high school, lots of new
people to gawk and stare at him and he tried to slouch around as
inconspicuously as possible. He did not join the school band or
chorus, tried to become a hermit.
The high school coach, however, wanted badly to get his hands on
Adam Leroy Forest, he had dreams of the greatest football season
in his life. By the second day of the new school year Coach Jabe
had personally cornered Adam and asked him to join the team. Adam
liked sports, but had always been too much bigger and stronger than
his classmates. He wasn't sure if it was fair for him to compete,
but the coach assured him that it was okay and he turned out for
the football team.
For a few days it looked as if Adam's high school years might be
those of a superstar sports hero, which would probably make him
popular and therefore happy with his lot in life. He barely
needed to practice: he could catch, kick, was faster than anyone,
and it seemed that nothing could stop his charge across a football
field--there was certainly no one going to stand in his way.
But no sooner had word got out that Monroe High School had a "wild
and wooly bigfoot" on their team, had court injunctions come
rolling in: not only from other school districts, but from local
parents as well. It was considered the same as having a trained
gorilla on the team and as for physical power, of course, they
It's too bad though: Adam could outrun, out-throw, out-catch and
most impressive of all, out-ram any professional football player
who had ever lived. His youthful clumsiness had been outgrown and
his physical control was very deft. But he had to be especially
careful not to hurt anyone. His physical abilities were more than
equal to the demands of pro football and all this was when he was
still comparatively small at only 7'5" and 430 pounds.
Coach Jabe told me that for those few days Adam was trying out, he
envisioned the Monroe High football team as the up-and-coming
State Champions, invincible--but when he found out that they
couldn't use Adam without several court battles, he resigned
himself to playing fair.
So Adam did not get to be the school hero, but that wasn't the
worst thing that happened to him, he could live with that. It was
much worse that he had to watch Peter Sinsley being the football
hero that he himself wasn't allowed to be.
But the worst thing Adam had to endure was falling in love.
Unrequited, of course.
It was bad enough that he was surrounded by all those beautiful
and desirable girls at school, whom he just KNEW could never
possibly ever want a big ugly thing like him--we've all lived
through that one, guys--but his infatuation with one of them in
particular had taken on gargantuan proportions. And that was the
most hopeless, the most foolish, the most obsessive heartache
You guessed it: he was infatuated with Lissandra Cunnings. That
beautiful bitch who had disdained and derided him all the way
through his school career. The girl who had told him to his face
that He Made Her Sick. The only girl, in fact, who had ever
actually TOLD him that he could never have her and that she would
call Rape and have him shot like a dog if he tried. That's the
only girl he REALLY wanted.
So he got depressed about it. He would rarely leave the house if
he didn't have to for school or to do some work on the farm. He
would just come home and play guitar in his room constantly. We
had to demand that he stop at night so that we could sleep. He
complained of aching hands and sore fingertips from too much
practicing, but he played on and on. He wrote songs of his own
but rarely played them for us. Lucky for us: the early stuff was
not very good, all about "poor lonely me" teen-age anguish,
unrequited love, etc. Some about Melly, and I suppose some about
At school he would always become clumsy and foolish whenever
Lissandra was around. And he was so obvious, clearing his throat,
scratching, shuffling his feet. He would never look her in the
eyes, although he watched her secretly as often as he could,
sniffed at her scent when she passed. Everybody knew it, even
Lissandra and she enjoyed being totally disinterested. Maybe
even rubbing it in, just how disinterested she was.
One of Adam's most embarrassing episodes concerning Lissandra
happened in his junior year, when he was 15. Lissandra had caught
a bad cold and was coughing and sniffing through the school day,
complaining of a sinus headache. Adam felt great compassion for
her suffering, enough that he actually approached her after class.
It was in the hallway, other students passing by, she was off
to one side blowing her nose.
"Uh, Lissandra, I...I can make your cold go away," he said,
truthfully enough, but quietly, for that was still a family secret
in those days.
"Oh, djust mabke yoursbelf go way," she said, miserable and
grouchy, not believing him anyway.
"I'm not kidding, sasquatch antibodies kill cold germs."
"Oh yeah? Great and how do I get sasquatch antibodies?"
"Well, I'd sorta have to..uh....kiss you."
She looked at him in absolute astonishment. Never had Adam been
so bold as to start a conversation with her and here he was
demanding a kiss. She almost laughed, but coughed miserably
"How stubid do you dthink I amb?" she said, with her plugged nose,
but I'll translate the rest of the conversation, "And even if it
was true, I'd rather have a cold than kiss a big ugly freako
pervert like you, Freakfoot! Yugg, how disgusdting!"
Lissandra spoke in a loud voice, deliberately attracting a crowd
so that their private conversation became a public humiliation for
Adam. He left without trying to explain himself further, but he
could hear her calling out to everyone, "Fuggin Fdeegkfoodt
thingks he can heal me widt a magicg gkiss!"
In defense of Adam's obsession let me assure you that Lissandra
Cunnings was probably the most physically stunning beauty the
entire town of Monroe had to offer at that time: golden-dark skin,
those amazingly bright silver-gray eyes, she appeared to embody
the perfect mix of every exotic, erotic and appealing racial trait
found anywhere on the planet. She had always been outstandingly
pretty and charismatic, but now she also had a knockout figure,
tawny and tall, in her arsenal of attractions. Lissandra had her
own style, leaning towards punk although sans piercings; her hair
often a jagged explosion of black, clothes outrageously mismatched
and tight, always showing a bit more toned belly and firmly bulging
bosom than was considered acceptable in high school. But most of all,
she was famous for her “awesome ass”.
As a teacher at that high school I was required to disregard her
sex-appeal and consider her just another student. I almost wish I
could say that she was just a silly airhead and that's why she
treated Adam so badly, but she wasn't. Besides being absurdly
beautiful, Lissandra was impressively intelligent and could have
been a good student--if she had ever bothered. Her sex-appeal was
getting too much attention.
So Adam was not the only guy who was hot for her and certainly not
the only one to whom she was unattainable. Lissandra was not really
interested in ANY boy in her own class. Once adolescent she had been
simply waiting to become sexually precocious, but only with Some Older
Man--which at that time meant at least a High School Senior. And the
guy she was most interested in was Peter Sinsley, football hero, who
Perhaps Adam's lowest point during his grueling infatuation for
Lissandra was when he (and she) was 16 years old. He rarely went to
the school football games, the sport had never really interested him
after he had been forbidden to participate. But Lissandra was a
cheerleader and he went once just to watch her spring and strut her
stuff in that cute little costume (he was not the only one). The
Monroe team won the game 7-4, a glorious victory over neighboring
Snohomish High. The star player of the event was of course, Peter
Sinsley himself, who scored four touchdowns and the virginity of
Showing intense team spirit, she had offered herself to the conquering
hero in a very public way and by the next day it was common knowledge
that Peter had scored the most desired piece of ass in Monroe, if not
the State of Washington. They had done it in a motel, a list of
intimate details revealed to all by Peter's bragging.
It rankled Adam that exactly those two should become lovers, although
that seems too good a word because they broke up within two weeks and
Lissandra was available again. Although still not to Adam.
I talked to Adam about love and sex as much as he would let me--
he was very abashed about that subject. I explained how I myself,
having not even been a sasquatch, had gone through much of the
same emotions when I was his age. How I too had been certain that
I was never going to be loved and how I had been more or less
afraid of women until much later, when I finally changed my own
attitude and then got laid lots and lots (okay, so I exaggerated).
So he asked me, "But who wants a big hairy old sasquatch?"
"Yeah, but that's different. We grew up together, she was used
to me. And anyway...well, that's over with."
"Are you sure of that? Melly seemed pretty devoted."
"Oh, she is...was. But...well, never mind." Adam was still not
talking about that.
"Well, anyway, there are more variations on the sexual theme than
you are aware of, Grasshopper," I said, then I told him how one of
my more liberated female colleagues had often commented about
what an impressive stud Adam would probably grow up to be. It
made him blush, but he enjoyed hearing that anyway.
What I told him was true. While I had been concerned about Adam's
eventual sexual relationship to human women as a future problem
for him, or even an unclear moral issue, I had discussed it with
some friends and colleagues. Several women I knew surprised me by
saying they imagined that sex with Adam would probably be quite
thrilling. Many of them did not see him as ugly or unattractive
at all: he had a nice face, a powerful body, beautiful in its own
way and probably also one very large and impressive whanger
(their words, not mine).
Then one day, everything changed. Adam received one of Melly's
voice-mails, which he normally kept to himself. This one he
had to play for us all. The message was this:
"Hi, Big Twin Brother: hope things are going good
with you. They are for me--especially now. There
have been some pretty bad riots in the streets of
Jakarta, you've probably seen them on TV. Anyway,
Dad has had enough of this place and so have I.
He's got a government contract job out of Seattle
developing software defense systems or something
like that. So we're coming home this summer! I
can't wait to see you all...
...oh shit, I have to say this: it's YOU I have to
see, Addy. After almost four damned years of
trying to get over you--I haven't. Still love you,
hope we can work something out. Bye."
The change in Adam was electric! He quit overeating, got out of the
house more and quit mooning over Lissandra or any other girl. It was
as if he suddenly grew up. Or perhaps it was merely that he was not
going to let Melly see him as a depressed, overweight, pathetic loser.
Adam had said that it was all over between them, but it certainly
didn't seem that way.