Again I was surfing the cable, looking for something entertaining. It was like trolling for bass in a flooded cornfield.

What I settled on was a feature about people looking for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and other "bigger-than-us-things."

And it was kind of a hoot because the alleged photo of a sea monster being investigated in this segment was discovered to be a hoax several years ago. I guess some program director didn't do his homework on this one.

But then people watch professional wrestling over and over as if it was real, so maybe there's a case for the repeats.

I'm not sure what they call these people who are in constant pursuit of things that go bump in the night -- what I mean is, I don't know what they call them in front of children.

Anyway, it should be accepted by now that there is no Puff the Magic Dragon or one would have gotten tangled in a net by now. There is no Bigfoot, or someone would have come across a carcass, or one would have wandered into town in search of a Tootsie Roll and a Mountain Dew.

And by the way, that infamous photo of the big gorilla-looking-thing trotting out of a timber patch that became the poster child for these "In Search Of" mysteries also was proved to be bogus -- contrived by a photographer whose family must not have allowed him to celebrate Halloween when he was a kid.

And since there is no Bigfoot, there also are no Yeti, Abominable Snowman nor Swamp Thing. Outside of grizzlies and Sumo wrestlers -- neither of which are real dangers or mysteries to us if we don't attempt to hold either in our laps -- we just don't have anything bigger out there to pursue.

Well .... there is that big honker of a national debt that's bigger than all of us, but seemingly it's not all that mysterious, and no one really seems to be interested in pursuing it, hairy as it is.

If you take away the eerie music and the manufactured fog on the sets, about all you've got left in these "In Search Of" features is something akin to cardboard cutouts from fourth graders.

Maybe there is something in some folks' genetic makeup that causes them to pursue these things, knowing down deep that they will not find them but they like to dress the part and talk about strange phenomenon.

I can relate to that just a little. When I was growing up and the famous "Rattlesnake Roundup" was begun in our little community of Whigham, rattlesnake hunting became somewhat of a rite of passage for many of us boys. We had to say we had been rattlesnake hunting to pass through that vortex. Mostly we did not expect to catch one.

And on that first day we walked up to a gopher hole and there was a five-footer stretched out in the sun asleep, just waiting to be picked up and put in the barrel.

We just kind of stared at each other. It wasn't supposed to work like that. It wasn't supposed to be that easy. We were really looking for Bigfoot or the Swamp Thing, but our community club had saddled us with rattlesnakes which do exist and which can be very dangerous.

Maybe these "monsters" have been invented in peoples' minds because we realize that we have pretty much run out of frontiers and their associated adventures -- outer space being the exception, but still out of reach in a conventional sense. That's not to say, however, that we don't run into people who are "out there in space." They've had out-of-body experiences and couldn't find the door to get back in, which was once a way to try to avoid the military draft.

But for some of these folks, don't try to tell them that Big Foot isn't real or that the Loch Ness Monster is really a log drifting in the moonlight. And don't try to convince them that professional wrestling isn't real or that it isn't Bullwinkle's real voice. They'll try to fight you.

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