THE TALE OF THE SMILIN’ SASQUATCH

Arnie was a carefree soul, always smiling, laughing, cracking a joke, or some combination of the three. The only problem Arnie faced, however, was a Big one- he was a Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. At ten feet and five hundred pounds, with a mouthful of sharp fangs and body covered in brown fur, he resembled a wild creature you wouldn’t want to run into in a darkened alley, or a darkened forest, or a brightly lit alley or forest, not to mention welcome into your living room. But the truth of the matter was that Arnie was as gentle as a kitten, sleeping soundly on a soft pillow floating serenely in a swimming pool filled with feathers from friendly fowl. By which I mean he was really very gentle. Still, most people were put off by his frightening appearance and so he was forced to go into hiding, living off the land in the woods of Washington State, and giving up a very nice rent-controlled apartment in Eugene, Oregon. This made the normally happy-go-lucky Sasquatch sad-go-unlucky, and an ill-timed snapshot by an amateur photographer who spied him lumbering through the woods one morning didn’t help his reputation much, either (you’d be growly too, if somebody took a flash photo of you before your morning coffee.) However, a few months after this incident, Arnie met Bananas Foster, a Monster Anthropologist who treated him with the respect and good humor that he so richly sought after. Not only that, Bananas Foster introduced him to the other monsters he had met in his travels, and not only did he find kindred spirits, but almost all of them were friendly, intelligent and witty. There was Beverly the Sea Serpent who could cook a mean Chicken Pot Pie, Chazz the Tree Troll who was also an expert on the Civil War, and Manuel the Spanish Skeleton who danced like Fred Astaire. And many others, all of whom resided on Bananas Foster’s estate in Cape Cod. Finally, after years of hiding out, they all agreed to hold a press conference and show the world they were nothing to be afraid of. Arnie led the conference and gave a speech in which he passionately argued for Monster Acceptance in human society. The overall response was positive, but not everyone felt comfortable allowing these creatures to coexist with the humans. The monsters decided, also, to show their generosity and intelligence, to found a University. The University of Genial Monsters, located on Skull Island just off the coast of Maryland, is the top-rated school for Not-Quite-Mad-But-Pretty-Unusual Sciences and Swashbuckling. And appropriately, their mascot is modeled after Arnie, the Smilin’ Sasquatch. Their football team invokes fear in the opposition but plays fairly and modestly. These days, Arnie is retired from teaching and lives in a log cabin in the hills of Skull Island, where he knits scarves that can be bought in the local convenience stores. Most people who buy them use them as quilts, since Arnie uses his own body to make the measurements. And he still guest lectures on occasion, since he can’t stay holed up by himself for long. If you ever venture out to Skull Island, give Arnie a smile as you pass him by, and he’ll be sure to return it. But don’t ask Louisa the Banshee for directions. Trust me, you’ll regret it.

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