09 April 2012

Easy Rider Meets Werewolf In a PBS Station Lobby (a true story)

My sister and I are sitting in a PBS television station lobby in Tacoma, Washington. It's very 1970s. Wood paneling. Blaring television (PBS, natch). Regional magazines on the coffee table. It's ideally nondescript; it feels like it should be a dentist's office in a Coen brothers movie. To one side of the room, four or five employees are having a low-key meeting about programming.

I'm waiting for a producer will come out to get me--they've invited me to be on one of their shows to talk about my book. I rehearse my stock answers in my head, over and over.

A guy walks into the lobby, a guy who definitely doesn't fit your standard public broadcasting archetype. He's your classic Harley Davidson rider, wearing a denim vest with a Harley logo and the word HAWKS on the back; on his legs are black leather riding spats. He is a presence.

The meeting falls silent. My sister and I eye him, wondering what's about to happen. One of the employees in the meeting finally pipes up, her voice pert and professional and irrepressibly Church Lady-like. "Are you here for one of the shows?" she asks.

Thus begins one of the most amazing conversations I have heard in my life.

"I'm looking for the editorial department," he brays. I wonder what his complaint is. I wonder if he's packing heat. I wonder if the upholstery on my chair might, just maybe, conveniently, be made of Kevlar.

"I need to drop off some video," he continues. "I just shot a video of an actual werewolf!"


What do you say to that?

Answer: You let the guy continue.

"Seriously," he says. "I know you think I'm crazy, but you've gotta see this, you're gonna freak out, man. And I got footage of a mother sasquatch nursing a baby. I ain't even kidding! We gotta get this on the air right now--people are gonna flip!"

Church Lady: "Well."

Pause. Everyone blinks a dozen times. My sister and I nearly bite through our lips to avoid making a sound.

For real: What do you say to that?

Church Lady continues, finally: "Well, you can drop it off here and we can give it to the program director."

"ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? No, man, this is too important! I can't just leave my video. I gotta explain some things, tell you what's going on. And just trust me, as soon as you see this, you're gonna flip and put it right on the air."

"Well, the program director is busy right now and ..." Church Lady looks around to her colleagues for help, but they are all still dumbstruck.

She's trying her very best not to sound too patronizing, not to laugh, not to tell him he's crazy, not to tell him that the station is, you know, PBS, and not exactly the sort of venue for werewolf footage, even if it is the real deal.

"Aw, you're KILLING me!," the guy says. "I got a werewolf on camera! An honest-to-God werewolf! I wanted you guys to have it--I'm not gonna go to Seattle and give it to 4 or something. It's all for you. A werewolf! I'll wait for the program director." He sits down emphatically, sending his message. "Go get him out here."

"Well, I'm sorry, I ... I just can't. He's busy. But there's a form that you can fill out for dropping off video."

"For real? This is legit, man! A freaking werewolf on tape! Okay, okay, where's the form? I've gotta write down some long stuff about what you're seeing and what to look for and stuff."

He's not angry, not really--just deeply disappointed, let down by the world, incredulous, unable to fathom that no one believes him. A freakin' werewolf, I ain't lying.

He gets to work. Some ten minutes later, when the PBS producer calls me back, the werewolf hunter is still hunched over the desk, sribbling furiously.

When I return to the lobby after filming the show, he is gone. I wish I'd given him my card. I wish I'd asked him to show me the footage right then and there.

It's the kind of story that you know is great--not the werewolf per se, I mean, but the guy. He's so earnest, almost adorably so, kid-like in his sincerity, in his efforts to make us believe. What's his story? Is he the type who spends hours in the woods looking for this sort of thing, an amateur cryptozoologist on a Harley?

You know there's more of a story there. Gotta be.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you had given him your card because I would love to know how the story comes out. Don't be put off by bikers: I've only spent time with a few of them, but they all seemed to be doing their best. And maybe PBS will scoff, but History Channel (alas) may be more receptive.


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