Friday, May 02, 2008

Stupid Things That Scare Me

(cross-posted at the Intrigue Authors blog)

Screeching in late today due to a dentist appointment. And I just have to say, my hygienist was running about 40 minutes late--would it KILL that surly blonde at the front desk to let me know and not act like I'm some sort of leper when I come up to politely ASK when I'm going to get my stupid teeth cleaned?


Anyway, I've been fussing with a new proposal, and I've been thinking about what scares me--after all, a good Intrigue should scare you, at least a little, right? And I feel some of my personal-best suspense scenes tend to be the ones where I take my own fears and just let my imagination have at them.

So all of this thinking about what scares me led me to start thinking about Stupid Things That Scare Me. And let me tell you, there's one really stupid fear that I have that I just can't get over....

Superman has kryptonite. Indiana Jones (19 days, 10 hours, 13 minutes, and counting!) has snakes. And I have ... Bigfoot.

Stop laughing. Just hearing the name "Bigfoot" gives me a MAJOR case of the heebies. Just watch:



OK, I guess you'll have to take my word for it that my skin just crawled into the next room and hid behind the sofa, but I have a deep, irrational fear of Bigfoot that rivals my arachnophobia, and no amount of telling me that it was all just an old guy in a gorilla suit is going to make me feel any better. Said deep, irrational fear is due to a convergence of traumatic, Bigfoot-related events in my life.

1) There were alleged Bigfoot sightings near my hometown when I was in the third grade and regularly WALKING HOME ALONE from school. I'm not kidding--just google Bigfoot and Wisconsin or La Crosse Tribune, and you'll probably find at least part of the Trib's series of articles from 1976 talking about a cluster of Bigfoot sightings in Cashton. Cashton was about a 20-minute drive from my hometown of Wilton, but word on the street (there were 500 people in this town, so the word was literally only on one street) was that Wilton farmers were seeing the big hairy beast on their land, too.

How do I know this? One of my classmates was the son of the town sheriff, and he would oh-so-generously come to school and yammer on about how his dad got called out to yet another farm because someone was having a staredown with Bigfoot. He also swore that his dad chased down the Big B and fired off a few shots at it, but I suspect he was just being a dude and embellishing at this point. Why? Because I'm guessing Bigfoot would have had Sheriff Evans as a tasty snack if it were true. According to BFRO (that would be the Bigfoot Research Organization), Bigfoot doesn't react well to aggression.

But that doesn't mean the rest of this kid's stories weren't true, and it's enough to make my hair stand up and frizz even more than it already does. I remember him telling us how his dad talked about the awful stench that Bigfoot gave off. A few days later, the Tribune printed an article about yet another Monroe County Bigfoot sighting, with a headline that referred to the big B as a "stinker" and several references to the Bigfoot Stench in the body of the piece.

When I walked home that day from school, someone had made a giant footprint in the snow. I just want to go on the record and say that it really wasn't funny.

2) About this same time-ish, Bigfoot had a recurring guest role on my favorite show at the time, The Bionic Woman (right up there with Wonder Woman, Electrawoman and Dyna-Girl, and The Secrets of Isis! I'm totally showing my age here, but I loved strong heroines even then.). He was big. And hairy. And mean. And I didn't like the way he swooped his arms around like he could lop your head off with one swing. So thanks to my favorite TV show, the unseen horror in my head suddenly had a face. A big, hairy, terrifying face. Curse you, Lindsay Wagner!

3) Then my best friend Terri went to see the movie Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot in the theater. She came back and kindly gave me a blow-by-blow of the piece, which was by no means a literary art-house film. Her recounting of Bigfoot's terrible roar, his hunting down and slaughtering at least one of the seven men who were camping in the Pacific Northwest, and her accompanying imitation of those Awful. Swooping. Arms. nearly sent me over the edge. Seriously, what kind of best friend DOES THIS? It was also allegedly a true story, which I remember she informed me with considerable glee. I was probably cowering under my Wonder Woman book bag in a corner of the lunchroom.

4) Sure, you may think that Ray Wallace's family admitting that he faked the famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film footage and footprints puts an end to this horrible, horrible legend. But the fact is, Bigfoot sightings have been documented since 1840 and probably earlier. Ray Wallace and his gorilla suit were not around then. And not only do many Native American tribes have Sasquatch legends dating back to Heaven Knows When, but there is actual forensic evidence that point to the fact that some Bigfoot footprints are real. One scientist points to the "push-mound" in the middle of the prints, which is created by the horizontal push of the first part of the foot before it leaves the ground. Fake feet can't do that, he says.

The enormous step interval measured between several tracks (in excess of three feet), this scientist says, would also be very difficult for hoaxers to create without making a mistake. Variations in toe positions would also be difficult to fake, he says. And another researcher named Henry Franzo compared 550 Bigfoot prints to each other and found that their measurements varied on a curve very much like how a similar group of human footprints would display.

What can I say? I like to research things that scare me. Although it really didn't help, in this case. You should see me on

So, yeah, I have a very strange and irrational fear of Bigfoot. Which some people, I am sad to say, exploit for their own personal enjoyment. One of my college friends found, to his great amusement, that all he had to do was slouch a little and swing his arms in that swooping, knuckle-scraping motion made famous on the Bigfoot episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, and I'd immediately bury my face in the nearest pillow and start whimpering. Fortunately for me, he also had an irrational fear of Bigfoot, and if he did this too often, he scared himself. Instant karma, baby!

BFRO and other organizations still report Bigfoot sightings today. In fact, a January 2008 article in the West Bend Daily News says there have been some new sightings in the West Bend area. That would be West Bend, Wisconsin. That's a FIFTEEN-MINUTE DRIVE from my hometown, people! My PARENTS are there, and I'm headed that way in exactly two weeks.


Sometimes, I think it would be better just to move to Loch Ness. THEIR monster just paddles around a lake from time to time and doesn't EAT PEOPLE.

Anyone else have an embarrassing, irrational fear? Or am I all alone here?


Cathy in AK said...

I can sympathize with the Bigfoot thing. I used to live in Oregon, where apparently BF, serial killers and militant groups prefer to live. Now, I just have to deal with the occasional bear. I feel much safer : )

Like Indiana Jones, snakes do me in every time. Even little, harmless (yeah, right) garter snakes that I KNOW aren't going to swallow me whole. Heck, a giant python would have a rough time doing that. But still. Snakes. ::shudder::

Gimme a bear any day.

Tracy Montoya said...

Oooh, staying away from Oregon. Ick.

Snakes don't bother me--I'm a spider girl. A stupid daddy long legs will send me over the edge every time, no matter how many times I tell myself their mouths are too small to bite humans. Someday, they may evolve, and by God, I'm going to be ready for it.

Totally on the bear!

Cheryl Norman said...

I live in Florida! I'd have to move if snakes scared me, right? Okay, I'm brave about snakes, but only if I see them first. I don't want a snake to surprise me.

My irrational, stupid fear is children. Large groups of little tykes, like a Day Care field trip or a kindergarten class send me shrieking in the other direction. It's like they're Lilliputians and I'm afraid they'll tackle and immobilize me. Don't try to analyze it. I've given up.

BTW, I just finished I'LL BE WATCHING YOU. Fabulous book!

Cheryl, who never had children of her own (Hey, fear of the unknown ya think?)

Amy Jandrey said...

Tracy! I didn't know you were a fellow Wisconsonite! Cool, eh? Born and raised in Milwaukee, doncha know (only a few blocks from Leon's Custard, the place Al's Hamburgers on Happy Days was patterned after!) Also hung around a lot in Mayville in th' day. Bigfoot (I saw that ::shudder::) I can deal with, snakes and spiders I CANNOT! EWWWWWW! Especially those big, hair Washington state garden spiders or whatever he hell they are. My son is my knight in shining armor when it comes to them.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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