Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Local "Swamp Ape" Draws Stares

We have a local story here in Lakeland that has gone national, sort of, if you count publicity on paranormal radio shows and Weird News sites. A woman using only her naked eye has spotted some really scary looking hairy creatures at the edge of a local swamp. They were of human size and posture and liked to spit a lot. I think she basically discovered members of the Boston Red Sox having a good time before spring training begins next month. Center Fielder Johnny Damon in particular has been confused with Bigfoot whenever he takes public transportation, so it is entirely reasonable that other members of his razor-impaired team would be hanging out in a Florida swamp. Also, the Banana Splits' "Bingo" character has not been seen in several decades. Perhaps if we start seeing a Swamp Elephant and a couple Swamp Giant Upright Dogs, the mystery of that 70s Hair Band will be solved. But what all the radio hosts are interested in is the connection to other Mystery Creatures such as Bigfoot, also known as the SSSSZZZZzaaaaaHsqwaaaaaaaaaaaHTCH. It is an ancient Indian term meaning you've had too much too drink. Our local paper takes the story entirely seriously, even providing a color-coded map of Florida showing by county how many sightings of Swamp Thing have been reported. We have had quite a few right here in Polk County, with 3-7 sightings. So far the area around Tampa has had none, which seems odd because that is where the zoo is located. To be fair, not all the radio stations in question have been treating this story with the anthropological seriousness which it deserves. They think the Lakeland woman who saw Swamp Thing might herself be a little cuckoo. She herself says the story is totally true and not something she just made up to distract her husband from a dented fender or large clothing purchase. She describes the creature as being two-legged, approximately eight feet tall, with light circles under (His? Her?) eyes, and enough hair to cover a four-piece sectional couch. It appeared to be "foraging" and was making off with some DVD players and Rolexes. (I made that last part up. We don't know what it was foraging for.) Now she spotted this critter a couple days after Hurricane Charley hit, so I suspect she could have been dazed. And heck, some residents could've been so disheveled by the hurricane that we could've passed for Sasquatch. After reading this woman's account, ANOTHER local woman described her encounter a couple decades ago with a flesh-colored creature about five-feet tall that ran really fast away from her and her husband. (I am wondering, did they have beer-drinking teenagers at the time?) She said it hopped like a kangaroo, but still. Well I have my own theory about Swamp Thing. I don't think it is a unique, Florida-based monster. I think it IS the Sasquatch, and it has simply decided to retire to Florida like everyone else! I mean, why not? It probably has a condo here in Lakeland, and relatives that it visits on the coast, thus causing the other sightings. Why should Sasquatch be stuck in the Pacific Northwest or the Appalachians when he could be sunning himself here? I will try to be more alert when I grow grocery shopping. If I bump into Florida's Swamp Thing I'll be sure to let y'all know.

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