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Joseph Shelton
bigfoot

joe sheltonJoseph Shelton is a freelance writer who graduated from Montana State University with a degree in English Literature. He lives in Bozeman, where he enjoys hiking, reading, and being a misunderstood artist-type. 

I have a tattoo on my left forearm of a cave glyph from California which is known as "Hairy Man" by the locals.  It has become a kind of visual shorthand for Bigfoot, amongst those who follow that sort of thing.

My own relationship with Bigfoot, or Squatchy, or whatever you may want to call him/her is one of fascination and/or reserved belief.  It makes sense to me that an intelligent bipedal ape might be able to hide in the woods.  It also makes a good deal of sense to me that a Western subculture that used to value hardiness, closeness to nature and independence would think up a bogeyman to invest with those qualities, even if he didn't exist before.  So whether Bigfoot is a real man/animal or a symbol for the dreams of rural America, I believe in him.

Anyway, Bigfoot expert and local figure Kelly Berdahl happened to notice my tattoo, which eventually got me invited to a taping of one of the "Town Hall Meetings" that lend the Animal Planet program "Finding Bigfoot" all their drama and pathos.  Afterwards I ended up at the Cats Paw lounge in Bozeman, getting sloshed with Bobo, Cliff, and Matt Moneymaker. 

I had secretly hoped to find Ranae Holland there, owing to a nice compliment she earlier paid my vintage coat (not to mention a passing resemblance she has a to an ex girlfriend I still can't get out of my mind), but alas, she was off searching the local woods for Squatches.  Still, I managed to force Bobo to buy me a drink, and to talk shop with Cliff and Matt.  It's one of those memories that I will be able to amuse myself with for years.  The time I got snockered with professional monster hunters from the television.

The really surreal thing was seeing myself on television when the episode came out.  I didn't say a word, and in fact only appeared in about two to three seconds of screen time.  There is a shot of the back of my head, which I was able to recognize as myself despite my lack of familiarity with my rear, as well as a really regrettable shot of me in profile in which my facial hair looks like some kind of hairy animal clinging desperately to the underside of my face.  Still, it was pretty exciting, the culmination of a lifetime of thinking that I really oughta be in pictures.

 Perhaps someone at the the network will see me and, impressed by my obvious gravitas, say "let's make a spin-off with that one kid we see briefly in the Bozeman episode".  If so, they can reach me here. 

And as a note: in all seriousness, I met some very cool people on the shoot that day, including "Finding Bigfoot" crewmember Tyler Bounds, who I still plan to interview at length someday, and who also appreciated my tattoo.  I look forward to seeing whatever monsters he finds, and the same is true of the cast of the show, which was very kind to suffer the company of a fan on their set, not to mention buying him drinks.

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