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 wearing. 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 favorably. 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 around. "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, right? "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.
Adam out of Eden