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Honey, I am Only a Big Foot

by Mark Spencer

Dear Woman,

Last night, I was out there — my keen vision obscured only by the poster of the fat $1.99 beef burrito. You took orders, played the cash register with your scarlet-nailed finger tips,made change — all with that wonderful, full-lipped smile of yours, your sexy overbite offered for the pleasure of strangers. You leaned toward the microphone, caressed it, brought your lips close, and your tongue tapped your teeth as you spoke: “Two tacos, two tostados.”

Yes, with the chill autumn breeze teasing my fur, nipping at my toes, I crouched in the shadows of the overflowing dumpster, and I watched. A tear drop froze half way down my cheek.

In a day or two I will have to go into hibernation. Sprawled on the floor of a cave, I will drink a case of Budweiser. The dark months to come will be full of feverish visions of you.

The last time you and I were together you denied me your overbite. You denied me your eyes. You focused on my furry feet, stared at them as though you had never noticed before that they were size twenty-eight, the corners of your mouth stubbornly turned down.

I was still there last night when you shoved through the glass door and out into the parking lot. I was only feet away. I could have pounced on you, ravished you, but you sighed, and I hesitated. Were you tired? Or free from the distractions of Taco Tasty, were you suddenly assailed by thoughts of your apartment dark and silent, all signs of me gone except maybe for a hair ball or two hidden in the crevices of the sofa cushions?

Your name tag caught a street light or the moon and glimmered like a jewel for a second, as you made your way across the asphalt, the air pungent with dripped motor oil, exhaust, Taco Tasty, and your perfume and sweat. Remember how I bragged on that first date set up by the good folks at that my sense of smell was better than that of any creature on earth? I was trying to impress you.

Do you recall, my love, how I mutilated the restaurant’s silverware in my clumsy, nervous paws? But you didn’t seem put off. Or by my line as I walked you to the door of your apartment: “If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

Crossing the parking lot, you seemed to sense my presence. You looked toward the dumpster, and I smelled your fear, and my heart fluttered ambivalently. Your slim legs and hips and arms pumped hard toward your pick-up. I thought of your nearly hairless white body, your taut muscles, the way everything is close to your tissue skin, the veins blue in your hands, the tendons in your delicate neck, your elegant ribs, your provocatively protruding hip bones.

What happened to us, Woman?

I know I can be a bad boy, but wasn’t it the bad boy in me you loved?

Loved? Is the tense correct?

Tell me this, darling. Illuminate me. How can I go from being the smartest, the sweetest, the most romantic, the largest — the only one you’ve “ever truly loved” (note that I’m quoting here) to being someone (or is it something?) you can “never see ... again”?

You argued that it was you, not I — your problem, not mine — that I did nothing, that you merely need your space, that you need to prove to yourself that you don’t need a man or a Big Foot in your life. But I’m not buying it.

Was it the tiny mites that live deep in my fur, that I sometimes pluck from my nesty underarms and slowly crush between my teeth, savoring the chickeny flavor?

Was it my lack of income? My having no car, not even a driver’s license?

Was it my past, my checkered past of hikers in the forests, often thrill-seeking co-eds, some times thrill-shunning hitherto devoted and saintly wives overwhelmed by my ability to elicit their subdued passions, make warm and flowing their juices that had grown viscid by chilly routine and icy husbandly hands? Honey, I can’t help it that I’m a stud.

Did I wear you out, baby?

Or was it the incident with your sister that time she showed up at your apartment-complex pool in that French-cut bikini?

Was that it? The sister incident? Honey, I am only a Big Foot.

You complained once that I ignored you when I read. Was that it? My affection for Flaubert, Kafka, Camus, Faulkner, Twain, Salinger, Shakespeare? Was it that I disagreed with you about The Old Man and the Sea? Maybe I cannot be objective about Mr. Hemingway. In 1936, in Montana, he did, after all, try to shoot my grandfather. A madman with a gun, a drunk with a pencil, a scribbler. Babes, how could you let literature tear us apart?

Was it my jealousy? What I did to Pretty Boy, that former recipient of your sugar, plier of your high-school flesh? He should have known better than to show up at your class reunion — I even wore a tie for you and let you trim my face and did not flinch when you told old classmates that I was a corporate attorney or that my Jaguar was in the shop or that my father had been ruler of a small Asian principality. Pretty Boy should not have hugged you. He definitely should not have kissed you, even on the cheek. He deserved to be bitten. And it’s not like I have rabies.

You won’t respond to this letter, I know.

I suppose that the last glimpse I may ever have of you was watching you hurrying to your elderly, primer-gray Dodge pick-up with its list to the driver’s side and its illegally tinted windshield, at the top of which in red block letters is the word “BITCHIN.”

You hurried as though terrified. The driver’s door creaked, banged shut; the lock snapped down, and the engine fired. You were hidden inside, the cab of that truck as dark as the chambers of your heart where you hide all the reasons for destroying me. You turned the truck toward my dumpster, and the engine roared, and your transmission clunked and whined into second, then third, like you were a bat on the freeway out of Hell.

I wanted to step into your path, leap upon your hood, beg you to come with me to the great redwood forests where we could unleash our passions hour upon hour, live on nuts, berries, and abandoned tourists’ picnics, free from your interfering friends with their malevolent admonishments about mixed relationships, your controlling mother (who really did make a pass at me in the kitchen on July 4th), your nosey neighbors (who assumed I was a member of Hell’s Angels), that unreasonable apartment manager (who had the gall to send you a letter saying NO PETS ALLOWED! I should have bitten him, too!), and let’s not forget that slut of a sister of yours.

Paradise — my turf for a change. Just the two of us, baby.

But, no, you made your choice. If I had jumped in your path, I have no doubt you would have simply mowed me down as though you were a drunk redneck and I a mangy dog on a dark country road.

Don’t worry, Woman, my love. I will vacate your life with dignity. If we ever meet on a hiker’s trail, do not worry. I will simply tip my hat and continue on my way. And I know you will refuse to flash me your overbite.

Perhaps the word on your windshield has too many letters.

My fingers stiffen in the cold as I write this note. A case of Budweiser awaits. And hibernation. And nightmares.

I must remind myself that in the spring a new life will begin. I will need no Internet dating services. That was a lark. I am through with your human technology, so overrated, so unimportant.

But I will think of you, if only fleetingly — surely fleetingly — whenever I summon the passions of the hundreds of grateful women hikers my future holds. Their shrill cries of pleasure will remind me — fleetingly, fleetingly, fleetingly — of you.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Spencer

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