Welcome to Freaky Fridays: War on Christmas edition! From now until Santa has murdered all the naughty children and Krampus is doing a jig in their guts, we’ll be talking about the weird old paperback novels that put the “ow” in snowman.
Normally, I don’t start these columns talking about the cover art, but look at that guy. Just look at him. What you’re seeing is the online dating profile used by the Abominable Snowman when he’s looking for a mate. First, he thoughtfully tells us his age (“thousands of years”) so that we understand he’s a sugar daddy looking for a sugar baby, then he makes sure we know his interests (likes to stalk the earth; is a foodie) ensuring his dietary preferences are front and center because, as we all know, most sugar babies are body conscious and wouldn’t be comfortable feasting at all, let alone on the flesh of humans, since they’re mostly vegan.
OKCupid says men’s profile photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile. Yeti’s on it. You should be doing something interesting, preferably with your pet. Yeti is hiking, and he’s his own pet: done. eHarmony advises that your profile photo be flattering, genuine, and accurate. Check, check, and check again. He’s even listed his full name (Norman Bogner) under his username (Snowman). Okay, Yeti is ready to fire his proton torpedoes into your thermal exhaust port, so what’s stopping this hairy snowman? Turns out: everything. YETI IS TERRIBLE AT DATING.
“It had been impossible to foresee that Bradford’s search for the Snowman would terminate in this devastating spectacle,” begins Snowman, giving us the 4-1-1 on Bradford’s first date with the big Y. “Ten sherpa porters and nine men in his party were already dead— hacked to death, their dismembered bodies consumed by a beast with an insatiable hunger for human flesh.”
I think eHarmony and OKCupid would both agree that you need to get to know the target of your affections before showing up with a bunch of sherpas. Bradford has clearly not done his homework, and the result is a definite dating don’t. Now, frostbitten and mauled, he’s found refuge in a cave in the Lhotse Face of the Himalayas, where the armless, legless, mutilated victims of previous bad dates with Yeti are holed up. These lamas know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of Norman’s affections and they bring out their holiest of holy men, a living human trunk, sheared of limbs, to lick Bradford from head to toe, using his warm tongue to save his frostbitten flesh.
If only Bradford had scrolled down and seen Yeti’s likes and dislikes.
Yeti is a hater, not a lover. He hates light, he hates noise, he hates humans, he hates animals, he hates everything so much that he’s probably in the comments section of YouTube right this minute. He even hates snow. Yeti needs the weather to be cold, but not too cold. In ancient times he lived by the ocean where he enjoyed eating sharks and whales, but thanks to global warming he’s had to ascend into the higher altitudes where it’s always snowing and sleeting on him which makes Yeti cranky. Bradford’s intrusion is the last straw, and ten years after their awful date, the Yeti hops on board an iceberg and sails over to America where he winds up in the High Sierras, CA.
Great Northern Development has bought a failing ski resort and in an attempt to spice things up, they hire Janice, a car model, to be Miss Great Northern Resort’s Snow Queen of 1977, but the whiny model can’t ski. She gets sent up the slopes with a studly instructor where they stumble across the Yeti who’s just minding his own business and he decapitates them with one mighty swipe of his paw.
“Janice was no longer anybody’s headache.”
Simultaneously excited about the PR, but alarmed about the decapitations, Great Northern digs up Bradford, who has been expelled from the Explorer’s Club and now builds roads with his bare hands for Yaqui mystics on a Ute Indian Reservation. Given to deliriously screaming, “I want to kill the Yeti!” when not whispering “The lamas call him sogpa— Satan.”, it’s clear that Bradford is still not over his bad date with Yeti, but at least he realizes that this time out, he needs a wingman or three. He stops off to pick up Packard, a pissy Vietnam Vet with a failing horse farm, Spider, an African-American demolitions expert now working as a Vegas hustler, and Pemba, the only sherpa to make it out of Bradford’s first death date alive. They’re going to go into the Sierras to woo Yeti…or die trying.
Shouldn’t be hard to find Yeti. 20 feet tall, he leaves pentagram-shaped wounds on his victims, and his footprints shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow for some reason. But sealing the deal is harder than you’d think. First off, the Yeti can imitate the sound of any animal, even the noise of human chit chat, to lull you into dropping your guard. Also, his eyes shoot…heat beams? For some reason? And he drools black pus, just in case you needed to be completely grossed out.
Bradford’s Man Squad need to bring their A-game so they decide to pack two M-79 grenade launchers, a couple of flamethrowers, an M-60 machine gun, and AK-47s for everyone. No way, Bradford says, and Pemba backs him up. If they fire a weapon amidst the icy mountain cliffs they risk an avalanche. Instead, Bradford has an even more tubular plan: crossbows. And not just any crossbows, but crossbows with telescopic sights that fire custom-made arrows armed with…miniature nuclear warheads?!? And, because it’s almost the Eighties, each man gets an Uzi, too.
Thus armed, the dudes head out into the Sierras with loving on their minds. Unfortunately, they keep bumping into Kodiak bears who are just the worst. They eat most of the team before they even find the Yeti. Ultimately, only Bradford and Pemba square off with the hirsute object of their desire. They blow his arm off with a nuclear arrow, but this Yeti is operating at maximum grumpiness due to a recent snowstorm so they have to take some damage and get totally grossed out by Yeti’s terrible breath (he hasn’t flossed in 400 years) before nuking his head with an arrow that gets him right between the eyes.
Then, Pemba and Bradford sit on their icy mountaintop, battered, bruised, badly beaten, but alive. And as they realize they are miles from civilization, without a radio or equipment, and very likely to freeze to death, Bradford looks into Pemba’s eyes and realizes something else. Maybe while running around the world looking for the Yeti, he missed that special someone who was right in front of him all the time.
Grady Hendrix has written for publications ranging from Playboy to World Literature Today; his previous novel was Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and his latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist.