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 "survived". 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 were right. 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 of all. 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 Lissandra. 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 instead. "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 else? 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 Lissandra Cunnings. 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?" "Melly did." "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.
Chapter 20

Adam out of Eden