Chapter 21:     Performing

ART writes---

At sixteen years old Adam was still growing, although he never did
go through an adolescent spurt as humans do, but maintained his
constant average of 3 inches per year.  We were hoping his growth 
would soon peak out, his size was already a problem.  He had to 
bend over for doorways, and some rooms were no place for him to be 
at all.  Fortunately, the ceiling in our old log house was about 
10 feet up, and the high school also had high ceilings. But it was
difficult for him to get into a standard car, uncomfortable for 
him to sit in movie theater seats and even more impossible for 
him not to be noticed in a crowd no matter what disguise he was 

He maintained a good emotional balance about it. He actually began
to view us "humans" as being slightly inferior to him (which we 
were), but he was always graceful and polite about it. Truth is, 
now that he was so big, he began to like it. Instead of being shy 
about it, he enjoyed flaunting his massiveness.  Good thing too, 
since there was nothing he could do about it.

Over the years had both Adam and I been offered good money to give
guest talks about "raising a sasquatch".  Now that Adam felt 
confident about himself, proud even, we started doing a lecture 
tour of university campuses around the West Coast, from California
to British Columbia.  It was fun, we got to travel expenses paid, 
saw quite a bit of country and met a lot of nice people.

Our program was that I would tell my story, an acutely condensed
version of this one you are reading and then introduce Adam, who 
would tell the audience about his own experience as a sasquatch 
living among humans.  

I coached him in the essentials of speaking in public, which I
used every day as a teacher: voice level, elocution, evocation of 
mood, timing, elimination of irritating repetitions or unnecessary
clichés, advantageous usage of appropriate clichés and relevant
colloquialisms, etc.  But Adam didn't need much coaching, he was 
a natural talent. 

Actually, Adam's voice was also quite special: pleasant to listen 
to and easy to understand.  People tuned in to his talking, and were 
enchanted.  Doug theorized that Adam's voice was the natural legacy 
of sasquatch oral tradition over innumerable generations.

He became very good at public speaking, and rather adept at
presenting precisely the image he wanted: of himself as an 
impressively intelligent and erudite representative of the 
sasquatch race.

At first he was nervous about speaking before large groups,
naturally, but after observing how surprised most audiences were 
just to hear coherent sentences and polysyllables instead of 
apelike grunts, he relaxed.  He couldn't help but impress them 

He had the knack of an easy going conversational style, so he
worked on also being eloquent.  His vocabulary was impressive, as 
was his ability to quote from references, since he could remember 
every book ever read to him in his life.

We developed a stock routine which he did repeatedly and kept
refining until it was very much like a theater performance.  The
following is transcribed from a talk he gave at Reed College in 
Oregon.  I will only give excerpts, since much is already familiar
to you.
	"Hi, everyone.  My name is Adam Leroy Forest and I'm a 
	real live sasquatch living among you Homo Sapiens folks.  
	That's a pretty unique experience for me, and well, 
	probably for you too, since I seem to be the only Bigfoot 

	"But as you all know, experiences are only made significant
	by our perceptions of them.  And any two people can 
	perceive any same thing in different ways.  

	"When Art and I started doing these tours, I wasn't very 
	sure about my part of it.  Jeez, what was I supposed to 
	SAY to you people?  I'm just me, who cares what I think?  
	Well, Art tells me, just share your perceptions of the 
	experience of being what you are, a sasquatch among 
	humans, that's what people are interested in hearing 
	about.  So okay, here goes...

	"In my own mind, for example, I'm as human as you are.  
	Of another race, to be sure, with certain advantages and 
	disadvantages inherent in my sasquatch-ness, but inside 
	this great big hairy body I'm just your average American 
	teen-ager. I perceive myself as one of you.

	"And how could I not?  I grew up speaking English, living 
	in a house, learning the meaning of life from television, 
	radio, computer games, comic books--I used to be hooked 
	on "X-Men" because I figured they were something like me, 
	but I'm over that now.  I like movies, pizza, burgers and 
	modern music, all the same stuff you guys like.  Actually, 
	music is my primary passion, playing guitar and singing 
	is my hobby these days.  

	I've got one year more of high school to go, then I'll 
	probably go on to study Anthropology at the University of 
	Washington.  At home, I don't mind helping my dad with 
	the hard physical work on our Hacienda, but I hate doing 
	the dishes--I get dishpan hands. (holds up his furry hands, 
	audience laughs).  So looking at it that way, I'm not a 
	lot different than most of you.  

	"But I can't deny it: I AM different than everybody else.  
	Even though I feel like a normal kid to myself, I sure 
	can't pass for one.  I'm big and getting bigger every day, 
	7 foot 11, 476 pounds at present.  Which is impressive, I
	guess, although not yet beyond the human scale by any 
	means: Watusi are often taller, Sumo wrestlers can be 
	heavier, and the tallest man in history, according to the 
	Guinness Book of Records, was one of YOU GUYS--a 
	white American from Alton, Illinois--at 8 feet 11 inches.  

	"Actually, I should never even get that tall, it's guessed 
	that I may top out around 8 feet, and weigh about 500 
	pounds, although no one knows for sure.  Boy, I hope I 
	do stop growing, it's hard enough getting into a car now.

	"I can't help but feel a certain kinship with Robert Wadlow
	--that guy who had the honor of being the Tallest Man in 
	History.  He was born in 1914 with a pituitary malfunction 
	that caused him to grow just like me and back then medical 
	science couldn't fix it for him. He was apparently a pretty
	intelligent guy, healthy and happy while he lived--made his
	living traveling around giving talks about being BIG, just
	like I'm doing now.  But he never stopped growing, had 
	trouble with his feet--never designed to bear 490 pounds--
	which he died of in 1940 at the age of 22. Poor guy.
	"I have to wonder: what kind of life did he have?  You can
	see photographs of him on Internet, he's always smiling, 
	standing in a crowd of people who are looking up at him. He 
	was popular, liked, he was called the Gentle Giant. But
	how did he feel about being what he was?  Did he ever have 
	any love life at all?  Or were his smiles masking a tragic
	drudgery?  Well, the guy was a freak, what could he expect,

	"My life could be like that if I let it." 

Adam pauses here, and the audience almost stops breathing--his talk 
has been so lighthearted up to now, suddenly becoming serious, 
compelling them to feel compassion for not one but two giant freaks.  
And then he changes his mood again, and theirs, relieving the tension.

	"Except that I'm NOT a freak--oh, I may look like one to 
	you, but to another sasquatch I'm probably perfectly normal.  
	Or so I assume.  This is the way a Bigfoot is SUPPOSED 
	to be.  See, check out my feet..." 
(Adam exaggeratedly lifts up one of his oversized feet for everyone to see) 
	"...size 52.  So at least they are not my weak point." 
(everyone laughs again)
	"It's not always easy being different.  There was a period 
	when I got pretty down on myself.  But I've got a Little 
	Twin Sister--sort of, we more or less grew up together--and
	she's pretty smart about stuff like perceptions.  Back when
	I was feeling like a real outsider, basically depressed about 
	what a weird hairy freak I was, she grabbed me by the fur 
	and told me, "Addy, you're a Superman--but you think like a 
	Clark Kent!"  And y'know, she was right.  So I'm learning 
	to live with it.  

	"Anyway, being different is not necessarily a bad thing. 
	For example-I really AM a superman, no getting around it: 
	I'm not bragging when I say that I'm a lot stronger than
	anyone else in this room or that I've got more energy and
	endurance or a higher tolerance to pain.  Those are the 
	genetic advantages of being a sasquatch.  Maybe I should 
	become an X-Man-- Yeah, then I could wear a cape-- and 
	a mask, cruise around metropolitan cities looking for 
	criminals to thwart...after I finish high school, that is. 

	"Anyway, I like being strong, who wouldn't?  Although when
	I was younger people worried that I was WAY TOO strong, in 
	other words: theoretically dangerous, so I've always had to
	practice restraint.  I don't hit people, for example.

	"But there are also disadvantages to being me: besides 
	being too tall, too heavy, too hairy, the worst is that I 
	can't read or write.  I've tried to learn, but...well, I 
	just can't.  Mathematics lose me too--oh, I can 
	count, and all that, but don't ask me to calculate sets 
	of compound numbers, please.

	"However I'm considered a pretty good student anyway, 
	because I have what you might call "phonographic memory". 
	I remember WORDS better than most people can.  Where 
	you might write something down and then forget it--I can't 
	write it down and I can't forget it either.  Not every word 
	I hear, of course, I DO have to pay attention.  Good thing 
	too: can you imagine how much CRAP I'd be remembering?
Here Adam does a stand-up routine of 3-4 especially stupid TV and 
radio commercials, to laughter and applause, which I won't quote 
because it's all borrowed copyright material.

	"So, what about your perception of me?  Okay, I'm speaking
	raw-ther erudite English, am obviously highly intelligent and 
	am wearing properly chic clothes, so you're probably all 
	thoroughly charmed and impressed...  

	(dramatic tone change) "...but what if you stumbled upon me
	in the deepest darkest woods, say just after sunset, and I 
	was not wearing these clothes, which I don't need any way 
	since I'm all covered with hair like some wild animal...
	(now crouching, snarling, looking ready to spring)

Some people in the audience usually seemed to become uneasy about this 
point in the presentation, which signified to Adam that his delivery was 
right on.  Then he would alleviate the tension by standing up straight 
and smiling.

	(relaxed tone) "Okay okay, that's no fair--I'd be spooked 
	too if I met a wild sasquatch.  Or any strange man with a 
	hunting rifle... 

	"Y'know, I have to wonder: what if I had NOT been raised 
	by Art and Elaine or any other human family?  What if my 
	mother had not been killed by that hunter that day and I 
	had been raised by the sasquatches?  Would I be who I am 
	today?  Answer: obviously not.  

	"Because for each of us, WHO we are is the result of our 
	own Perception and Perspective.

	"Perceptions: I'm not just me, I'm also the only sasquatch
	you've ever met and therefore a representative of my race.  
	I can impress you with how much like yourself I am and 
	leave you with this message: sasquatches aren't apes, but 
	people; don't shoot them, folks.

	"Perspective: I'm not just me, I'm also YOU, or someone 
	like you.  When I DO meet up with my own sasquatch 
	people--and I do believe that I will one day--suddenly I'll 
	be representing Mankind: you guys, Civilization.  And I may
	have to apologize for a LOT.  But I can leave THEM with 
	the message: those humans aren't really hairless Chihuahuas,
	but people; don't step on them, please.

	"Anyway, I'm glad to be the guy perceiving this experience,
	sharing this moment with all you nice people, here and now.
	Thank you." (applause)

These presentations became more informal as Adam became more adept
at them, and when he opened up to a crowd it was amazing how 
quickly he could win them over.  He had a repertoire of jokes that 
always broke the ice.  He even began to play his guitar as part of
the show.  He quickly got over being shy about performing for 
crowds when their honest response was always "more, please!"  

He usually played three numbers, warmed up with a short classical 
number, then one of his own compositions, and finally sang some 
standard song that everybody knew. They were always enthusiastically
received, and he was always tempted to continue playing, but we 
were engaged to do an oral presentation, not a concert.  Nor was 
he yet bold enough to sing his own songs back then, so the music 
was just an extra frill to the show.

The college tours were a success all the way around.  Besides the 
good will they generated towards Adam as a person, they also
awakened an interest in sasquatch research.  We were offered more 
speaking jobs than we were interested in, we could have toured all
of the USA and Canada if we wanted, maybe Europe.  It was even 
pretty well paid.  But although it was fun once in a while, 
neither of us was interested in it as a grueling full-time job.

The money earned from those talks went into a fund for Adam's college education, which was evidently going to be focused toward music and anthropology (we joked that he could be the sasquatch expert to replace me), but Adam eventually decided that he wanted to spend some of the money on equipment and start a band. I wasn't so sure about the wisdom of that, but couldn't deny him his half of the money we had earned together. He bought an amp system with two loudspeakers, mixer with effects, Shure microphone, guitar pickup. Even an electric guitar, a Stratocaster copy for which he had made and mounted a hand-made extra-wide neck. So then he had equipment, but no band. There was the usual process of trying to find other high school kids to play music with, and soon enough he had a drummer, a bass player and a keyboard player, but they never practiced enough, or weren't proficient enough, or didn't show up. He always ended up sounding better by himself. We finally posted "The Official Adam Leroy Forest Home Page" on Internet. There were several web-sites about him done by squatch enthusiasts, but this was "the official" with e-mail and advertising for his services as a musician rather than as a professional bigfoot. He started playing gigs as a solo performer, for free at first, private parties, schools, even churches. Then found himself getting paid doing between breaks for professional bands. It was easy for him to get gigs once he started, venues called him: just being who/what he was guaranteed a crowd, no matter how good or bad he performed. A Singing Sasquatch was a show in itself. But his performance was always appreciated beyond the freak show. It sounded good, at least. Although he hadn't really settled on a personal style yet, his material was varied standards; folk, rock, blues, still none of his own songs back then. For some people his music might have been too classical, his voice almost operatic, but most found it pleasant to hear. Then he met Smokey Chesterson, brother to Eugene Chesterson, Chief of Police in Monroe. Smokey played electric guitar in his own country western band, was about 45 and alcoholic, but somehow Adam and he got along marvelously. Smokey had heard Adam play at Pelosa's Restaurant and immediately offered Adam a slot in his band, called Guesswork. Smokey was a shrewd showman, and having a singing and playing Bigfoot in his band would be a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. But it was also a good band with professional musicians who wouldn't put up with any member who wasn't up to their standards. Adam rehearsed with them several times before he was allowed to play on stage with them. Elaine and I went to one of their first gigs at a tavern. Legally, Adam should not have been allowed into taverns at all because he was still 5 years under 21, but nobody ever asked him his age. He was so big that he was assumed to be old enough. Or maybe no one really knew what the rules were for sasquatches. He never drank alcohol anyway, only played in the band, so no bartender ever had to challenge him to show ID. We were prepared to be disappointed, figuring he was only being exploited by this band of grown men as their PR mascot, playing their music rather than his. We also knew that Adam was not a whiz at fast electric guitar solos, he was best at a good steady beat and acoustic melody. But we were pleasantly surprised. Sure enough, there wasn't much room for Adam's special beat in their routine, although they did play some songs in Adam's own repertoire, such as a couple of his crowd-pleasing scat-singing “vocal instrumentals”. In fact, Adam really came to shine as a singer. Smokey was the lead singer and not about to let anyone take Hank Williams away from him so Adam backed him up nicely with harmony and some very impressive yodeling. But they traded for the Frankie Lane songs and Adam's vocal power was unleashed at last: "My God, everyone was saying, hat's better than the original!" Guesswork had something going for them here. He became a member of the band, they played weekends around the state, became known as the band with the "Singing Sasquatch". Adam was earning money playing music to enthusiastic audiences, becoming moderately famous while he was still a Junior in High School. Did all this go to his 16 year old head? Oh yeah, it certainly did. He was starting to become insufferable, "Adam Leroy Forest: Star". He was making plans to go off touring the USA with Guesswork, when Elaine reminded him that he had to finish high school first. Adam was somewhat indignant about that. I then also reminded him of his quest to bring enlightenment to the sasquatch masses, to which he replied that he could do that later--this was the chance of a lifetime. Eventually even he realized that it wouldn't be that smart for an underage kid to travel with a band of incorrigible alcoholics. Besides, Melly was coming back in the summer and he wanted to be home for her.
Meanwhile, back at Monroe High School, Adam became "popular" at last. People saw him walk by, erect and mighty and famous, and thought to themselves, Hey, this is my chance to get to be seen with somebody who is cool and who's gonna get even more famous! If Adam had been afraid that he could never get a girl friend, he soon found that his options were better than expected. There were several who made it clear that he could get lucky, but he still had his inhibitions in that respect. But none of that changed that he was still hopelessly focused upon Lissandra Cunnings as the one girl he had to have, to whom all his success and fame seemed to make no difference--he was still just "Freakfoot" to her. I would have thought that Melly's approaching return would have alleviated his yearning for Lissandra, but when I asked him about that he merely shrugged and said, "Actually, I'm better off being hopelessly screwed up over Lissandra than Melly." What that meant, he wouldn't explain. So he finished the school year with no girl friend even though he was constantly being flirted with. He was waiting. Summer came and so did Doug and Melly Wielson.

Chapter 22

Adam out of Eden