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I’m skimming just under the surface of dark waters, trying to get my bearings. Every now and then I pop my head out and survey the scene above, looking for just one landmark that I recognize. But nothing takes. More swimming, more scoping, and still, the complete unknown. Each dip, farther and farther from home.

What happens when you lose the thing that defines you?

Can I still be the Loch Ness Monster if I am lost outside the loch?

It’s not like a search party is ever going to find me. They’ve been trying that shit for years with all of their latest contraptions. I guess when you are an introverted sea monster who makes sporadic appearances, it’s sort of in your nature to be missing for long stretches.

Meanwhile, my therapist says I need to stop calling myself a monster. She hates that word and says it’s loaded with preconceived scorn. “Nessie,” she scolds at every session, “The first step in others seeing you as a caring being, deserving of love, is for you to see yourself as a caring being, deserving of love. Stop calling yourself a monster.”

She talks a lot about the way I carry myself, arching my neck higher, to present more grace and confidence. But I just wonder how much she really listens to me. I’m a swimming, talking, state secret, so obviously “presenting myself” isn’t really my thing. I mean I’ve done enough reading into celebrity social media strategy to understand that I still need to make enough appearances to garner curiosity and attention. I wouldn’t dare come out far enough to draw a line in the sand, but if I did, that’d be it.

Instead of presenting myself, maybe, I need to be rebranding. And if I’m rebranding, maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Instead of ditching the monster part, I embrace this new scenery, this new lake. Maybe I become one of those people who relocates to Colorado Springs and suddenly my whole life looks like a Patagonia ad. The Loch Ness Monster is a blurry question. A thesis. Barely even a conversation. I guess I could give people a little bit more of a taste of what they want. Civilization probably only has a few more generations anyways.

But Nessie, the Traveling Sea Monster could be HUGE. A couple high-def photos around the United Kingdom, and the papers may start using words like “gallant” and “quixotic” to describe me. My therapist might ask me: Is that how I truly am? Or just how I want to be seen?

OK, new plan. Step one: Find out where the hell I am. Step two: get to London, where they have the most intrepid paparazzi. Step three: Quick glow up. Step four: Talk to Ted Lasso’s people about a guest starring stint. Step five: reclaim the throne of most beloved natural mystery.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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