Saturday, November 17, 2007

On the Non-Existence of Bigfoot, Part I

I've wanted to write about this since 2002, but haven't gotten around to it. In that year, on Mother's Day weekend -- the last Mother's Day when my wife wasn't technically a Mother, and I could in mixed conscience go on a road trip -- two friends and I flew out to Portland, Oregon for the Western Bigfoot Society's annual conference.

Let's just say I had to settle something in my mind before I was responsible for raising kids. Does Bigfoot exist?

For the first sixteen years of my life, I was pretty sure it did. Next decade it was more of a tossup. To age thirty-three I was tempted to give it a little credence. After all, from native tradition, to tracks, to hair samples, to purported sightings, to spurious but famous filmic evidence, people have been claiming that Bigfoot is real for hundreds of years. It seemed there had to be SOME possibility.

This was important to me as a parent-to-be. Before I got started, I wanted to establish for myself what kind of world we live in, so that as a parent I would give the kid the appropriate contextual feel. Was it a magical world, which would allow for a giant north american forest ape that had so far eluded capture or conclusive evidence of existence? Or is the world mostly the no less wondrous one we see around us...the one where an unseen brush-crunching shadow in the woods is a bear, and where a snapped tree is the result of a nearby deadfall?

I used to believe that Bigfoot exemplified the old adage that you can't prove that something doesn't exist.

Until I met the people who were making the claims.

Part II tomorrow. In the meantime, Bob Ross.

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