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THE BIGFOOT

    Once a Bigfoot headed straight for the trees.
    The decision wasn’t made lightly. It had been building for some time, taking shape in a gathering disquiet and then demoralization. Until one day a moment arrived when something snapped inside, and the Bigfoot bolted from its men’s group into the woods without explanation or farewell.
    It needed time alone to reflect upon the developments that had brought it to this pass. Things had begun well enough. That first weekend retreat it had joined along with a few of its mates from work had even been enjoyable, the Bigfoot was forced to admit. The chanting, the beating of drums, the staring into campfires while listening to “initiation stories,” the running naked through the dark to release “the warrior within” all stirred the Bigfoot with novel and rousing emotions. 
    But as it attended more and more of these gatherings, joining larger and larger crowds of those who called each other “children of the ancient ones” and “spirits of the sacred grove,” the Bigfoot began to have misgivings. And as it rode back in the car each Sunday night with its companions, those misgivings only grew.
    The others had developed larger jaws and at least a token stoop during the weekend’s doings, to be sure, but there was something unconvincing about their transformations. As though when they parted with the usual “secret handshake of the primal self” and returned to their everyday lives, all the bonding they had done with the Bigfoot would fade into just another male fantasy to fill the void between Monday and Friday. Or maybe just between beers.
    In a decade or two, how many of them would remember any of this without flinching in embarrassment? If pressed to explain to their sons what they’d been up to with a bunch of other guys out in the woods, would they hem and haw or would they still have it in them to declare they’d been pounding their chests and yowling at the moon?
    This sense of the shallowness of its companions’ commitment came to a head for the Bigfoot one weekend as it watched a pudgy fellow who claimed to be a former “person of consequence at the highest levels” run naked and out of control for hours. “Is this me?” the Bigfoot asked itself. “This has-been old blow-hard crashing through the underbrush and bumping into trees, all the while grunting heavily when not stopping to pass out his business cards between breaths? What a fraud! They’re all frauds!”
    And that was when the Bigfoot decided to go it alone. Somebody had to keep the faith. So it stood up, turned from those it now considered its bogus peers, and took off into the darkness. There it has remained for years now, receding into a figure of myth and dispute. Its very existence is doubted by some, while others cling to the most farfetched proofs of its whereabouts.
    There is no way of knowing, therefore, whether it is true that the Bigfoot occasionally came down to the edge of the trees at night and watched the clumsy exertions of its former comrades, shaking its head in disbelief at what lost men in boyland they seemed.