Cryptozoology is not something I am really into.

The belief in monsters, fairies, giants, etc. is fun to read about, in my opinion, for the sake of finding out about the lore of different cultures. But that’s as far as it goes with me. I have enough on my plate trying to deal with reality, without worrying about cryptozoology—a word that is described as “anecdotal stories and other claims rejected by the scientific community.” 

Wikipedia’s definition is carefully worded and explains that science comes up with new critters all the time. (“Critters” is my word, not theirs.) At that point, these critters become “real.” Interesting, yes? I mean, were they there before?

In other words, there is, arguably, a spot between reality and the unknown that could be as narrow as a razor, or as wide as Kansas.

I’m not trying to make a case here, for any imaginary creature. I gave that up when I was 10 or 11. (Yes, Puff the Magic Dragon.)

What I am trying to make the case here for is my wife. She speaks frequently of these things as if they were her pets. She wears T-shirts that advertise them. She loves movies about them.

She really needs help.

I guess I first noticed this little tendency of hers when we were just friends, Danielle and me. She had a Bigfoot T-shirt that I thought was unusual for a young lady of her education and bearing. I asked her about it, and I spent the rest of the evening hearing about Bigfoot in all his incarnations: Skunk Ape, Yeti, Yowie, Sasquatch, Wood Booger, and many, MANY more. These days, when I give her a hard time about knowing so much about Bigfoot, she just smiles slyly and says, “Remember who I married, and try to connect the dots.” It’s that “try” part that really burns me up.

The next of her crypto obsessions that I became aware of was the Loch Ness monster, “Nessie” as she calls it. Most people are familiar with the story of the English physician who photographed the alleged monster, only to be revealed as a hoax years later. However, since that time—in the 1930s—scores of people have taken photos, given eyewitness testimony, and sworn their blood oath that the monster was right there, in front of their eyes. There are some who refuse to give up on their belief that Nessie is some real, uncatalogued biological species of earth’s fauna. My wife being one of those (people, not uncatalogued species). Personally, I believe those people could have quite possibly been more in the proximity of some good scotch than of the Loch Ness Monster. Just a theory.

Then came Godzilla. Not necessarily a crypto critter, but to the extent that in Danielle’s mind he is real, not imagined, he still works for this story. To me, oaf that I am, the entire Godzilla franchise was merely a scornful joke. A shameful side note about bad cinema. An entire genre that could be, with much relief, dismissed out of hand. That is an attitude that will not fly around my beloved partner.

She, somehow, is a critic of the Gojira (Godzilla in Japanese) body of work and is capable of educating you (or me) way beyond your capacity on the subject. She knows every year that a Godzilla movie was made; every twin-billed movie, like Godzilla vs. Giraffe Man (or whatever); and every time they tried to “improve” one of the movies with technology. This is a sore subject with her, being a purist and all. Because somehow, to her, Godzilla is a pet. Once I asked her what her perfect dream job would be, and Danielle, with no hesitation replied, “I would have loved to be in the movies. I would be wearing the Godzilla suit.” I thought she was kidding. She was not.

We have had many discussions over the years about Moth Man, Chupacabra, the Lake Champlain Monster, leprechauns and other territorial critters, but, in my estimation, Danielle’s favorite by a good margin is the Hodag. Since 1893, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, has been the home of a strange little being called the Hodag. It has the head of a frog, the face of a giant elephant, thick short legs, huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end. It has no knees, according to local legend, and must lean against a tree to sleep.

Eugene Shepard, land surveyor—and known prankster—turned out to be the fabricator of the Hodag, leading a bunch of townspeople on a wild Hodag chase before fessing up. But, in Rhinelander, they still have a Hodag festival every year to celebrate it. 

There’s also a small party of Hodag fans in a certain town in Texas. 

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  • Andy Chase Cundiff

    Artist, singer-songwriter, music producer and humorist Andy Chase Cundiff spent many years traveling the U.S. and abroad, but calls Amarillo his home. A longtime resident, Andy’s house is on a red brick street in Oliver-Eakle that is lined with elm trees.

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