I believe a man should do his civic duty. He should get out and vote when it isn’t raining, show up for jury duty before trying to weasel out of it and agree to impersonate a hairy beast when it will benefit his town and fulfill his contractual obligation to write a weekly newspaper column.
So, when I was asked to don a Bigfoot costume for promotional photos and videos to spread the word about the WNC Bigfoot Festival, I immediately said, “How much money do I get?” When I learned that I would get no money but a free beer at the end of the day, I enthusiastically said, “Well … all right, I guess.”
I’ve had experience portraying cultural icons, with mixed results. A dozen or so years ago I agreed to be Santa Claus for the public library’s holiday children’s party, climbing into the red suit, stuffing in a pillow, strapping on the beard and hiding in a back room until, right cue, I bounded into the kids’ area with a hearty “Ho, ho, ho!”
The response was not what I expected. Several toddlers misinterpreted “ho, ho, ho” as “I’m here to murder you and your entire family.” They screamed and burst into tears, either clinging to their parents or trying to escape and hide among the Seuss books.
A couple of years later, I made a guest appearance as Michael Myers, the killer from the “Halloween” movie franchise, stalking the sidewalks during what was our family’s annual Halloween celebration. It was a role usually reserved for my brother, but I subbed in the coveralls and mask that year, posing for photos with trick-or-treaters and frightening about as many children as I did as Santa.
So, I figured with that experience I was well suited for the Sasquatch suit. My handlers took me to the welcome sign at the edge of town, we retrieved the borrowed costume from the back of the car and I climbed in (the costume, not the car.) Here’s something not everyone knows about wearing a Bigfoot costume around the end of August — it’s hot. It’s very, very hot.
While the cameras rolled I strolled out of the woods, Bigfoot-style, and up to the sign, did a little dance, sort of a modified hoochie coochie, then a Ric Flair strut to top it off.
“Let’s try that again,” said the director, whose artistic vision was less hoochie and more coochie.
By the second take I was bathed in sweat (my sincere apologies to the rightful owner of the suit). The hairy full-body costume was bad enough but the mask was sheer torture, restricting vision and blocking air coming in and going out.
I wanted to quit, but I focused on this instead: WWBD.
No, not “What Would Bigfoot Do?” It was “We Want Beer Dammit!”
So, into town we went for shots of Bigfoot at the crosswalk and Bigfoot on the sidewalk and Bigfoot peering into storefront windows.
Here’s something else not everyone knows about wearing a Bigfoot costume around the end of August — it’s an attention-getter.
Drivers at stoplights smiled and waved, from what I could see through my eye holes.
People emerged from restaurants and pubs to get a look at Bigfoot and have their photos taken with the great beast, or at least a shorter, sweatier stand-in for the great beast.
“Hello there, little one,” I said to a child, resisting the urge to yell “ho, ho, ho” to see if it still retained its terror-inducing power.
Before I knew it, my day as Bigfoot had come to an end. I had done my civic duty, my sweaty, sweaty civic duty.
And here’s a final tidbit not everyone knows about wearing a Bigfoot costume around the end of August — a free beer when it’s over tastes so good. So, so good.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.